I will never stop.

Today marks the four-year anniversary of the day I lost my best friend, Alan, to cancer.

July has been hard for me since he’s been gone. The long Fourth of July weekend has become less about day drinking and fireworks than it is a reminder of the day I spent getting drunk with a friend at the Seaport blissfully ignorant to the fact that Alan was on his death bed and I’d never see or speak to him again. During this month, the anger returns (why him?), the memories are more vivid, the sadness deeper.

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There are people I can talk to freely about this—others who loved Alan, folks who have also lost someone they truly loved and “get” it, and people who simply love me and hurt when I hurt.

Still, there are others who probably don’t get it. People who change the subject each time I bring up his name, as if the fact that I still miss the man after four years means something is wrong with me. Maybe they think there is a timeline for grieving and I’ve surpassed it; that our friendship had its time and should be put to rest like he was.

I don’t think these people mean me any harm, but it’s something I simply cannot do. I will always remember Alan as someone who truly made my life better. I will recall the day he died as one of the worst days of my life. (THE worst so far, if I’m being honest.) I will forever wonder what he’d say/do/think about the things I say/do/think. I’ll never stop laughing when I think of an inside joke we shared. I’ll never stop thinking of him whenever the clock says 10:27 (his birthday).  I will forever include him in the acknowledgements of my books. I will keep changing my profile picture on his birthday and the anniversary of his death. I will cry every July 8th and October 27th and whenever I watch The Long Island Medium or the subject of Leukemia comes up. I will never EVER forget him, stop cherishing the role he had in my life, or cease finding reasons to mention him in conversation. It’s my way of keeping him alive.

If you don’t like it, my advice to you: get ear plugs.

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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..

My late, great best friend and boss of almost two-decades. I miss him every day!

My late, great best friend and boss of almost two-decades. I miss him every day!

A House of Cards

I have a full plate.

I’m not only referring to my Passover dinner plate, which was very full indeed. And quite delicious. I’m referring to my increasingly busy schedule. As you know, I have a full time job as a trademark paralegal in addition to being an author. With being an author comes marketing and promotion responsibilities. Even though I have a publisher, much of that role falls on my shoulders so it’s a good thing I enjoy it. I also have a lot of friends, am close with my family, and exercising is a big part of my life. Throw in standard maintenance activities like food shopping, cleaning, laundry etc. and I’m a pretty busy chick. I’m not suggesting there aren’t plenty of people who are equally swamped or even more so, but sometimes it’s overwhelming and I long for a less active lifestyle. I covet downtime. I’m not shy or withdrawn but like most authors, I’m an introvert at heart. It takes a lot for me to get cabin fever and as a result, I often wish I wasn’t addicted to working out because running/spin classes take up a huge chunk of my weekend that could be spent just relaxing with coffee and a book or binge watching TV. I sometimes even wish I wasn’t a writer because that takes up several evenings a week along with chunks of my weekend and I struggle for time to get my errands done, especially when I have plans with friends or dates. If I removed exercising and writing from my plate, I would have so much more of that downtime I crave. BUT exercising makes me feel strong and healthy and writing makes me happy even when I’m sad and positive happiness is unattainable. So, for me, giving up exercise and/or writing is not an option and I’ve learned to balance my life accordingly.

I can't stop writing!

I can’t stop writing!

view from my run

view from my run

But lately I’m finding myself taking on even more. My dream is to someday quit my day job and write full-time. Since it’s unlikely I will ever make enough money on my books to live in the style to which I’ve become accustomed or even close to it, I’ve taken on manuscript critique/developmental editing clients on the side as the first step to increasing my writing-related income. The time I devote to this is not instead of writing, marketing, running, friends etc.—it’s in addition to.

My friends supporting me and my books!

My friends supporting me and my books!

On top of that, I was asked to join the executive committee for Light the Night – a fundraising initiative of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Leukemia is a cause very close to my heart because it stole the life of someone I loved so much. I’m having trouble saying no because it feels like saying no to Alan and I can’t do that. And I would love to support the cause to find a cure in any way I can. Accepting this additional appointment means more juggling of my existing responsibilities as well as more sacrifices to that coveted free time.

My late, great best friend and boss of almost two-decades. I miss him every day!

My late, great best friend and boss of almost two-decades. I miss him every day!

But wait, there’s more. I’ve decided to redo my apartment. I looked at it the other day and it was as if I was seeing it for the first time and I hate it. Suddenly I am determined to make it better: a new kitchen set (because mine is more than ten years old and falling apart), a new dresser (see above), a new coffee table (because I hate the glass top and can’t stand the smudges), and maybe a small desk (because leaning over my coffee table to write is not comfortable). Shopping for new furniture is another activity I will need to juggle with my writing, food shopping, friends, TV watching, editing for clients etc.

And if that wasn’t enough, I’ve told my publisher I would be interested in taking on an additional role should they think I could add value. In response to my offer, I was told they assumed I was too busy working full time and writing. I am probably too busy and I question my sanity for even bringing it up, yet I’m passionate about the book business and know anything related to it wouldn’t feel like work.

My awesome publisher!

My awesome publisher!

As you can see, I’m currently in no hurry to remove my plate of any of the above things or slow down,  but I am afraid I’m nearing my limit and something’s going to have to give. What happens when I take on even more? I want to make sure there’s room in my life for something or more specifically someone else and I worry with each new activity/interest/responsibility I add to my life, I’m nearing my threshold.  If my life could be compared to building a house of cards, what will it take to make the house fall down? I like to believe the aspects I consider vital to my happiness now is indicative of my life at this moment in time and that at such point in time my lifestyle changes, what I consider vital to it will adapt accordingly. As with most questions, the answer will come with time. In the meantime, I secretly (or not secretly) hope my current passions will lead me to the most important passion of all—love.

And I just remembered baseball season is starting tomorrow! Go Yankees…

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