an anniversary to honor but not celebrate
Over the past year, I’ve peppered my generally upbeat, happy blog with some very sad posts due to the death of my boss/mentor/best friend, Alan. Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of his death. This time last year, I couldn’t begin to fathom the pain that would result from losing someone who was such a constant in my life for so many years and someone I loved unconditionally. For more than a decade, barely a day would go by when we didn’t communicate—whether in-person, by phone or by text/email. So to say going cold turkey was a shock to my system would be a gross understatement. I found myself reaching for my phone to text him at all hours of the day from different locations. Not for anything important. Just because. And then without warning, or perhaps a warning I didn’t heed, I couldn’t.
The urge to text him was so strong. I had so much to say! One afternoon, about a week after he passed, I made an impulsive decision while watching Huey Lewis perform at City Field that if I wanted to write Alan, I would! Rather than send him texts, I began writing him notes using the notes application on my iPhone. And I’ve been writing these notes regularly for the last year. There is no schedule to the “when”—during work, before bed, while out with friends etc. And there is no pattern to the “what”— I tell him how much I miss him, I recall a private joke, I express a fear etc. I thought after a year, I would read the notes back and see how far I had come in coping with my grief and accepting the permanence of his death – character development so to speak. The truth is I’ve read through them more than once because it makes me feel close to him and whenever I do, I cry because each note brings me back to that moment in time and is a reminder of what I was feeling in that moment. The notes are more hysterical at the beginning mixed with a lot of anger, both at the situation and, yes, with him too but even a year later, there is a lot of repetition. A lot of asking why he had to die and whether I’d ever fully recover it, I’ve come a long way but I’m nowhere near “healed.” I told my sister time doesn’t “heal” all wounds but hopefully it will “soothe” them.
It has been suggested to me that I publish these notes and I do wonder if others would appreciate such honest and raw expressions of grief. I also considered the possibility of donating much or all of the proceeds of sales to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. After giving it, admittedly, not much thought, I’ve decided it’s just too soon. I’m not ready to share my inner most emotions as they were expressed in real time with the world. Additionally, I’ve decided to keep writing them whenever the mood strikes. It does strike me less often than before. As Alan used to say, “Baby steps, Merrybeth.” However, in honor of the one year anniversary of his death, I’ve chosen to share a few of them:
I’m so pissed that the drug worked on 6 of 7 people and then killed you. Angry!!! You are so wonderful. Why? I’m sorry. I know you’re thinking: don’t dwell; being angry doesn’t change anything. I know. I know. I always hear your voice in my head. But I’m just so fucking sad. I miss you almost every minute of every day. I hope so badly you’re here with me- someway, somehow. Please jump in my head so I can hang with you in my dreams. 7/15/2014 10:41pm
“The mornings are the hardest. Knowing I have to go an entire day without hearing from you by text, phone is unbearable and the thought of no Alan for a lifetime is breaking my heart. I love you and hope you’re ok wherever you are.” 7/17/2014. 8:24 a.m.
You were in my dream last night! You were responding to tweets on Twitter which is weird since you weren’t on Twitter. I didn’t get any direct interaction with you which was disappointing but it was so good to see you. You were still dead (ugh I hate saying that!!!) but you were ok. Come back again please! I’m so sad. Dragging myself to spin class. I also got a weird vision that said “you’re prettier when you smile” and wondered if that was a sign from you. I hope so. 7/27/2014 9:34 a.m.
So, I went out to dinner with Abbe, Hilda and Jules tonight and actually had fun for the first 2 hours. I cracked jokes and everything. And then we had a drink somewhere after and it hit me that you were dead and I just wanted to go home. I keep thinking I can text you or you’re going to visit me somehow. I do believe you will but knowing I can’t control the when or how is so hard. And so is knowing that it won’t be the same. It will never be the same. I’m so sad. 8/1/2014. 11:15 p.m.
Today was a toughie. Alice is coming this week to start packing up your office. I don’t think I can stand it. I’m afraid I will lose it. Why can’t they just retire your office like Jeter’s number 2?? I miss you so much. It still aches. I still don’t underarm why you died. I feel like a child. People die. But I loved you. I wasn’t ready to lose you. Spell check changed “understand” to “underarm.” I’m keeping it. It’s funny. Like you. Like me when I was with you. 9/29/2014 11:02 p.m.
I miss you. I’m scared I’ll forget your voice. I still can’t quite accept that I’ll never see you or talk to you again. I get through each day at a time but when I try to think long term, I panic. I know I have no choice but to deal with it but I keep thinking it’s all a big misunderstanding. Like Three’s Company. I hope you’ll visit me again. Please be with me tomorrow when I go to the doctor. I’m very scared. I remember last time I did this. You asked Rachael Benz to come with me. I bet now you would come with me yourself if you were still here. I love you and always will. XO. 10/12/2014 8:33 p.m.
Happy almost birthday. I was walking to the subway and got this urge to text you and I realized that, for me, texting you was like breathing. I didn’t think about it. I just did it. Sounds silly but it’s true. That’s why I can’t breathe sometimes when I think about you. 10/26/2014 10:48 p.m.
I lost it today. Some corny Dan Fogelberg song made me think of you and I cried. It’s ok. I’m used to it. Flying to Kentucky tomorrow. First time flying since you’ve been gone. No one to text “landed.” So pitiful. 12/10/2014 6:20 p.m.
“The dead can hold a grudge better than most scorpios.” Line from American Horror Story. Made me think of you because you were so damn proud of being a Scorpio. I hope you aren’t holding any grudges. I got a 3 star review from a reader who said she enjoyed Blogger Girl from the first page to the last and would read my other books. Go figure. Oh well 🙂 LOVE you. 1/2/2014 11:17 p.m.
I’m on a date. I kinda like him…1/9/2015 10:33 p.m.
Remember when we used to thumb wrestle? You always won and I always tried. We were so cute! I have a cold, tomorrow is my ultrasound AND my first book reading. I’m scared. I miss you! 2/11/2015 10:35 p.m.
Today is the eight month anniversary of the worst day of my life so far. 3/8/2015. 6:31 p.m.
OMG everyone on that show Nashville is so good looking! Like Sawyer times 50!!! I miss you L ./11/2015 11:38 p.m.
You used to make this silly sound “ba joobie joo.” I make it sometimes and think of you 🙂 Like now. 6/23/2015 12:34 p.m..
A beautiful way to remember a dear friend. Way to go, Meredith.
Thank you, Arleen!
It’s a beautiful tribute. He sounds like he was an amazing person!
He was, Erin. Best man I’ve ever known.
I don’t know where to start with my comment other than to say, I’m so so very glad that you are writing these notes. It’s hands down, the BEST thing you can do for your grief. I wish I had started sooner, seven years sooner, but I have only just been able to start recently. It took a second loss before I even got sick. Severe depression, anxiety, panic, PTSD…you name it. Nobody grieves the same way. There’s no right or wrong. I’m just so happy for you that you’re able to get your thoughts out. As for making them all public in a book, only when you know in your heart that you are one hundred percent ready. I’ve been told to start a blog just to tell my story but so far, my stories are only on paper.
Thank you so much for sharing the entries that you did. They were so real. So relatable. I for your pain, your anger, and your frustration. Keep doing what you’re doing, and I will too. Maybe someone in our shoes will read this and so the same. It’s very helpful in the grieving process.
I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you once again for sharing with us.
I felt your pain – not I for your pain. Smartphones, mmmhmm.
Thank you so much Melissa for the reassurance that I’m doing the right thing. I do hope it helps others realize they are not alone. I’m so very sorry for your losses and your pain.
Meredith – these notes are beautiful…. What a great way to honor him and keep him alive… And reading them I really feel your love for each other. I know how hard today will be but I know he is looking over you and is with you in spirit. Hang in there… Love you!
Thanks, Hilary. Love you too!
Courageous and generous of you to share your experience. Sending healing vibes your way. 🙂
Thank you so much.
These are so beautiful, powerful, and courageous, and by posting this, you are reaching out to everyone who has suffered a crushing loss. I am thinking about you a lot today, and I love you very much.
I hope you’re right, Sam. thank you and I love you too.
Ohhhhh… deep breath…tears. Thinking of you. ♥
What a beautiful tribute to your friend. I’m sure he’s reading this and figuring out a way to comment. Thinking of you today.
I hope you’re right! I’m looking for the signs – always am. Thank you for the comment,
Wow. That was a really powerful and heartfelt post. It hurts to see you going through this grief and heartache, but I like how you’re writing out your thoughts to him. I hope he’s sending you signs that he knows you’re thinking of him.
Thank you, Melissa. I love you. XOXO.
I love you, Meri. Thank you for sharing your feelings with us. I know it will help many who struggle with loss. Holding you close today and always. XO
Thanks Jen. I love you, too.
Hi Meri. These made me cry. I’m so sorry that you lost Alan (and that the world lost Alan…) Sending you much love to get through the day.
Thanks, Natalie – I’m sorry I made you cry, but I guess it shows how honest these notes really were. I was always real with Alan and can’t stop now.
Thanks for sharing such a personal part of you. These notes are amazing. Maybe when it’s not so raw you could do some sort of publishing thing. Maybe not. Whatever you decide, you have these notes and it’s a wonderful way to deal with such sorrow. All the best for moving forward.