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Weekend Shenanigans: The sun must set to rise addition

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In the interest of containment, I’m combining the last two weeks into this Shenanigans report.  So, if you do the math, we’re looking at the last two weekends here and it’s going to be a rambling Cliff Notes version. 


I’ve spent quite a bit of time with Date Chick.  It’s cool but still taking some time to get used to.  I was lucky enough to spend almost ten years with my wife and I took for granted, like most married couples do, how easy it was to be myself around her.  To not wonder if I’m talking too much, if my jokes are funny or not (of course, they’re hilarious).  When it’s okay to drop a deuce in my own house with a female around.  Yes, I’m in the early stages here and lucky for me, Date Chick is fully aware of all the space I might need and knows I’ve been through quite a bit the last year or so.  The weekend was marked with me telling Date Chick exactly what my wife went through and what all I had to do to make her as comfortable as possible.  It wasn’t easy but I thought it fair for her to know what she’s dealing with here...


A step-by-step breakdown of how I learned of the new tumors on New Year’s Eve from my doctor friend.  How my wife had to get a spinal tap so the docs could rule out MS.  The surgery to get a pathology on the new tumors.  The staph infection from the surgery requiring home nursing and $5000 of antibiotics.  Almost daily trips to the pharmacy, wondering if the pharmacists think you’re some sort of addict.  Another surgery to properly seal up the infected wound.  Chemo.  Avastin.  My wife getting poked with needles while the nurses try to find somewhere, anywhere to draw blood to make sure it’s safe to administer the chemo and Avastin.  Sitting in the chemo center, waiting for the results while all privacy goes out the window.  The depressing and silent drives to and from Cedars.  The looks from strangers as I help my wife walk:  “Is she wasted?  What’s wrong with that woman?  Why doesn’t she speak up...I can’t hear her.  I think she’s wearing a wig...it’s crooked.”  The radiation treatments.  My doctor friend pulling me aside and telling me my wife only had 2-3 months to live.  Feeding my wife because she couldn’t move very well, thanks to a new tumor on the brain stem.  The steroids that kept her alive because they allowed her to swallow.  Her looking me in the eyes and whispering, “Help me,” and not being able to do a damn thing.  The night she passed and the horrible call to hospice and the late night nurse visit to take vitals and confirm her passing.   The arrival of the morticians at 1am.  The stretcher taking my wife away. 


For years, you have a girlfriend then she is a wife and she is always there.  A phone call or text away.  And then, just like that she’s gone.  Zipped tight in a thick plastic bag and driven from the driveway in a windowless van as you walk back into your home and then it’s just you and a cat who knows something’s up but you can’t explain it to the cat because you don’t know what’s going on yourself.  Full freight.  And then you look at the time and it’s 3am.  You don’t want to go to sleep because you don’t know how you’re going to start the new day in an empty home.  Where once there were two now there is one.


This is what drives one to wonder what the hell they’re supposed to do on a Friday night.  You have a world and then it goes away and you need to build another world.  So, you motivate yourself to start some shenanigans as a survival technique.  Friday Night Shenanigans are born.  Get out of the house and do something...anything.  Don’t let the walls grow closer around you.  Push them away and move.


I realized about halfway that I was explaining everything more for myself, so I wouldn’t scare Date Chick off if I were having an off day.  I’ve come to terms with my wife’s passing.  What I haven’t entirely come to terms with are the awful flashbacks I get when I think of some of the stuff my wife had to go through.  I explained that when I have days where I think about it more than others, than I’m not the happiest man in the world.  Just sad.  It doesn’t help that I have to see a physical therapist to help get my back to where it was before I carried my wife more frequently than either of us would have liked.


One of the trickier moments in the last couple weeks was explaining to Date Chick how I had plans to go out to dinner with my in-laws.  They think very highly of me and I understand that I am a direct link to their daughter.  I have a responsibility to keep them in my life.  Date Chick understood why I’d go to dinner with them and, as is often the case with the human psyche, I’d made a bigger deal of it in my mind than the reality of the situation necessitated.  But it was a good barometer as to what kind of woman/person Date Chick is.  She didn’t make it about herself and didn’t need an explanation. 


Before that Sunday dinner with the in-laws, I had spent the weekend with Date Chick.  We went to Greenleaf and split a salad ($12 for a bunch of lettuce and some chopped stuff in a fancy bowl...it was good, but I coulda made the same thing for $2). 


Now that I’ve got my Apple TV set up and rigged to Netflix, we decided to try something neither of us had watched before.  We settled on “House of Cards.”  It was excellent.  Date Chick was a Political Science and Journalism major so it was right up her alley.  If you haven’t seen the show, and you like political gamesmanship, this is your show.  We watched five episodes over the weekend.  (The show is a likely representation of today’s American government.  Win at any cost, and never let your ego lose.  Keep on message even if it’s the wrong one.  Repeat non- and half-truths even when you know it’s not right, or correct.  If it gets you what you want, that’s what you want...sound familiar?) 


How great is it to find a show where you need more and find yourself on a binge?  The last show that did this for me was “Breaking Bad.”  That’s a pretty good show too, if you haven’t heard.

Knowing I had an early dinner on Sunday, Date Chick cut out a bit early in the afternoon.  Probably a good move because I was getting anxious.  I had pangs of guilt before and during the dinner, almost like I was cheating on my wife and keeping a secret from the in-laws, but I didn’t think it appropriate to talk about Date Chick at this time.


Sometimes, I feel like my wife gives me signs that she is looking after me from above.  It’s not an everyday thing, but out of the blue, I’ll get a coincidence or a nod that gives me pause.  After Sunday dinner, I walked out of the restaurant and into the night. 


For my wife’s funeral, I was asked about the music:  What would I like to be played by the pianist and vocalist?  At that point, I couldn’t really focus on music, but I did want “Ave Maria” since it was performed a cappella at our wedding.  I vividly remember it bringing my wife to tears.  We were on the altar, standing silently as the song filled the church, built from stone in the 1200s.  The singer’s voice bounced off the walls and flowed towards us like a river.  I looked over at my wife and she was crying.  The acoustics were perfect and so was the song.  It made her so happy.  Whenever she heard the song from that point on, she would cry.  No matter where we were.


The other song I picked for her service was a non-vocal piano version of Coldplay’s “Paradise.”  It was my wife’s last favorite song.  She played it over and over on her ipad.  I didn’t think much about it but then, but soon after she passed and I was by myself late at night, I played the song on youtube.  I thought about my wife and wished she were next to me singing the song.  I studied the words:


When she was just a girl
She expected the world
But it flew away from her reach so
She ran away in her sleep
And dreamed of
Para-para-paradise, Para-para-paradise, Para-para-paradise
Every time she closed her eyes

When she was just a girl
She expected the world
But it flew away from her reach
And the bullets catch in her teeth
Life goes on, it gets so heavy
The wheel breaks the butterfly
Every tear a waterfall


In the night the stormy night she'll close her eyes
In the night the stormy night away she'd fly

And so lying underneath those stormy skies
She'd say, "oh, ohohohoh I know the sun must set to rise”


I realized that the words spoke to her and her situation.  It immediately became an obvious choice for her service.  Of course, every time I hear the song now, I think of my wife.  This is probably all sounding a bit depressing and sad, and it is.  But the point is to give context to the present, where I am now.


And so, as I walked out into the evening after putting away a steak, relieved to get through the in-law dinner without fumbling too much over my words, worried that I had ‘cheater’ written all over my face...the speaker system outside played “Paradise.”  Once again, my wife was looking out for me, telling me it was okay. 


I texted Date Chick when I got to the car.  She asked if my wife’s parents were okay.  I thought that was pretty nice. 


I treated myself to a self-serve frozen yogurt on the way home (from America’s Cup), noticing they had put out their pumpkin flavor like they do when fall hits.  That was my wife’s favorite.  She loved when the pumpkin was put out for the fall season.  Again, I paused and thought my wife was looking over me.  Not a perfect weekend, but one filled with necessary adjustments and accompanying road signs directing me to where I might need to go, based on where I’d been.


The following weekend, Date Chick and I did more of the same.  I read while she worked on her laptop.  I recorded the last Angel games, explaining that I was disgusted with the team but you never know when something awesome might happen in baseball, and the one time I didn’t record a game I would miss something spectacular.  Nothing spectacular happened other than the Angels getting swept.  The Angels hitting all the notes to finish an abysmal season. 


Sunday was the weekend’s highlight.  Soon after we had our first dinner, Date Chick asked if I would go to an awards show with her.  The awards show finally arrived on Sunday.  It’s an event honoring Orange County’s food industry:  best new restaurant, best sushi, best dessert, and my new all time favorite:  BEST MIXOLOGIST!!!  Or, as anyone else would call it:  BEST BARTENDER!!!


Since Date Chick was presenting an award, she had to get there early, so I drove myself.  I used to hate going to these sorts of events by myself.  But now I don’t care.  I just walk up, get my wristband and walk around like I belong.  The key is to remember that most everyone else doesn’t know anyone either. 


It was a good party.  Very Miami Vice-like.  A couple of OC Housewives and a face or two I recognized from the Food Channel.  I had two personal highlights:  Alan Greeley was there.  I like his restaurant, The Golden Truffle.  Few people know that he was once Elton John’s personal chef.  I’m told that if you pour him enough of a good wine, he’ll tell you some pretty good stories.


The other highlight is that at my table, Frank Buckley from KTLA’s morning news was in effect, sitting with his wife.  I catch him most every weekday.  I used to watch Steve Edwards on Fox, but I couldn’t take horse face Gillian Barberie no more, so I ditched the bitch and made the switch. 


I was stoked that Mr. Buckley was as nice as I expected.  He presented an award then split, explaining that he had to get up at 4am. 


The party reminded me slightly of the Miami Vice episode “Death and the Lady,” where there’s a really cool outdoor party scene on top of a hotel.  I’m pretty sure most everyone else at my party made the Miami Vice connection.  How could they not?


I’ve been dreading this week.  Tomorrow would’ve been my 7th wedding anniversary.  I was a mess when my wife’s birthday came around and she wasn’t here to celebrate it.  I stared at her picture all that weekend.  I’ve made no plans for October 3.  I’m going to wake up and probably wonder what might have been.  That’s just plain ol’ human nature. 


Perhaps I’ll get some sort of sign from my wife.  Maybe she’ll give me some good Shenanigans this weekend.  She’s made the last few pretty good.



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It's impossible to not get choked up while reading this stuff. Everyone was been touched by cancer, sadly some more than others. Reading this brings back horribly sad memories but important memories, at least for me. What I am truly fascinated by is the journey in DR's life while still staying true to his past.

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Thanks DR......for making me tear up. This really took me down memory lane.


I still see very vividly my wife being taken from the house and placed in the van. I was horrified when I realized that there were other bodies in the van as well. I thought she deserved better than that.


October sucks. Your wife, October 3rd, my wife October 9th and my fiancee lost her husband October 25. October is not a rip roaring time for us.


Keep your chin up bud.

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Great one DR, wow, I teared up a bit thinking how tough it was on you both, and how strong your wife was going through everything.  I experienced all that too, with my Dad, and its rough seeing a loved one like that. I knew my dad was a tough, strong SOB, but it's on a different level when you see your wife, mom, or sister going through it. Hope you continue to find strength in each day.

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Thanks DR......for making me tear up. This really took me down memory lane.

I still see very vividly my wife being taken from the house and placed in the van. I was horrified when I realized that there were other bodies in the van as well. I thought she deserved better than that.

October sucks. Your wife, October 3rd, my wife October 9th and my fiancee lost her husband October 25. October is not a rip roaring time for us.

Keep your chin up bud.

I don't remember whether or not I was there when they took my brothers body away, I'm guessing I wasn't. I had no idea that they would have other bodies in the van.

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You have a way of conveying what you are feeling and making others feel the same thing. That is a gift. Many people can put words together. Not everyone can elicit an emotional response in the process.


Another great job. Hoping for the best for you.

I completely agree.  Your stories make me feel like I'm right next to you witnessing the events as they occur.


Although I still have my wife with me, I lost both my parents to cancer years ago.  I still feel the loss after all these years.


So far, it sounds like you may have a potential winner in Date Chick.  I wish the best for you two.


I look forward to your next entry/chapter.

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talking about the illness and all you and your wife went through put tears in my eyes, and i'm sitting here with a bunch of kids in study hall who have no idea what i'm reading. it's hard to keep my strong outer appearance going while reading about your tragedy.


i hope this writing is a good outlet for you. i also am very impressed with date chick. seems like she's a solid person all the way around.


God bless you, buddy.

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Thanks for all the support.  This mostly anonymous board is pretty much the only place I 'talk' about this.  I don't want to burden friends and family too much.  It's hard for others to understand why I might want to talk about it without coming off as a whiner, etc.  My family has a pretty strong 'get over it' constitution which is usually helpful but this is new ground.


The best was when my well meaning brother told me he'd help me look for a one bedroom apartment a couple weeks after my wife's passing since obviously, I wouldn't need all this space any more.


What I might be interested in is a one bedroom/TWO BATHROOM joint.  Then I could blow it out in total confidance with Date Chick around.  To satisfy YK's scatilogical questioning:  Yes.  I couldn't take it any more and I was trying to be sly about it.  Of course, thunder struck and I tried to cover it up by 'clearing' my throat which of course only draws more attention to the situation.  Date Chick didn't say a word and didn't move away from me when I lit a candle and sat back on the couch.  It's a major test, isn't it?

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DR, Date Chick was probably laughing hysterically inside, but she kept her composure.  She sounds like a winner.


When I was dating my wife many years ago, we were watching a football game with a friend of mine and I got up to cheer and accidentally let out a loud one.  I laughed as well as my friend.  When I turned around and looked at my wife, she was giggling.  That's when I knew we were meant for each other.

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