This weekend was two months since Larry died after his year-and-a-half battle with cancer. It’s still hard to deal with and reckon with. To allow myself to really let it sink in just brings in the emotions and tears, which happens quite a lot still. This past week was notably more painful for some vague unknown reason – Fran had the same heightened emotions as I did. Maybe it’s just that it’s been two months, and it is not a temporary thing, like he’s just been gone back east and I had to stay here. There’s no un-doing of what happened. Larry has died and I am alive to deal with the fact that he is absent from the world. I am talking with a therapist one-on-one every week or so, and later this year, I hope to be joining a therapy group for people who’ve lost spouses. These things are all good and necessary, but they don’t undo the fact that the love of my life is gone. I tell myself frequently that he’s free from suffering, which helps me to cope, but what I really want is to believe that somehow his presence is still around us, in some way. He’s in my heart, I know that. He’s not forgotten. But it would make me feel better to know he’s some kind of angel or ghost. I don’t know why that would matter – maybe it’s to know that maybe he’s able to be happy when I do something he liked. It wouldn’t feel so empty.
I am trying to make things work for me here in reality. I’ve been fairly proud of myself in attempting to cook meals much more fancy than I ever would have pre-Larry. They’re not fine cuisine, but still, I cooked a filet mignon yesterday and that is pretty cool, right? Cooking has been the thing that for me is what makes me feel closest to Larry, so I’m not keen on stopping. I have his recipes that he used to make all the time, and I’m going to dive into those. The Instapot has been amazing too, and Nicki got me a Mediterranean Instant pot cookbook that has some delicious-looking recipes I can’t wait to try. If the coronavirus doesn’t kill us all. That’s another thing – I am honestly glad Larry isn’t around in his weakened condition during this pandemic scare – I hope it ends up not being a complete disaster, but it’s impact probably isn’t going to be minimal, regardless. And with a compromised immune system, if he had gotten coronavirus and that would have been the factor that caused his death, I’d be even more devastated than I already am.
So yeah, I’m just trying my best to make him proud, and to make myself not hole up and surrender. I’ve been doing a Yoga program on Youtube (Yoga with Adriene – I LOVE IT) every morning and I do feel better doing these things – notably in my lower back, as I think it’s helped undo a lot of the tension-building the last 43 years of my life have stored. We’ll see. I’m also trying to be up for going or doing whatever friends are suggesting, within reason. It’s been good to get out.
This week is tough as it’s when we move mom into the new home. It’s for the best, and will give some peace of mind. But I just need a fucking break. But I don’t think one is coming. C’est la vie. In the meantime, here are some pics from the last week or so with friends and at home. Enjoying life as best I can. Larry is never out of my mind and I miss him so fucking much. Sometimes it makes me smile, but a lot of times it just makes me sad and cry.
Pot Roast – March 3:
Nicki si ready for some pot roast!
Firefly dinner with Barb – March 6:
Barb and me at Firefly with a photobomber
Barb owning portrait mode
Seeing “Couples Therapy” comedy show at The Virgil with Nicki – March 7:
Waiting for Couples Therapy at the Virgil to start
Obviously my last year and a half have been difficult, because obviously what Larry was going through and doing what we all could to fight for his survival and then make his death as comfortable as able. There’s been another aspect of my life that has been very hard to deal with that ran concurrently with all of the above, and that’s about my mom.
Last January (in 2019), she ended up having to get fairly emergency surgery on her neck as the discs in her vertebrae were pressing against her spinal column. It had manifested already in her having numb hands and feet, but it wasn’t sure what was causing that. It could have been carpal tunnel and docs weren’t quite sure. But when she went to the hairdresser and was getting laid down into the hair sink, her legs gave out as something pressed just too much on the spinal column during that action. At the hospital, the neurologist was able to see surgery was necessary to release the pressure on her spinal cord or else much worse damage was to come. The surgery to replace the discs and reduce the pressure was successful, although it didn’t really undo the numbness in her hands and feet. Recovery was unfortunately necessary but it couldn’t be at the hospital, so we had to find a convalescent acute care facility for her. Needless to say, that was a lot of stress for her. 2 weeks of that, and then she went home. By then, she was already stressed out about her neck and head, and had a collar to keep her from moving it too much.
Going home was a whole scary event, but Stacie and I had gotten a caregiver service to be there 24/7 for her while she recovered. Well, that basically kept her going but her anxiety and paranoia only got worse and got to the point where she stopped eating and sleeping because she was sure a piece of cheese was stuck in her throat and that if she slept, she’d stop breathing and die. A trip to a psychiatrist got her drugs that calmed that anxiety down. This was in March and it had been an exhausting time for all of us.
Throughout the rest of the year, instead of getting better and feeling more secure, she only got more scared about everything. It took 2 months before she let us take the collar off her neck, which had absolutely not been necessary that long. She refused to go upstairs and sleep as it was scary. So she lived on the ground floor in the living room, sleeping on the couch. She started to forget short term things, things that we had just talked about. She couldn’t manage her own medications anymore, and wouldn’t go out with the caregivers to the store as she was afraid of falling. She became utterly dependent on the walker we had gotten her, and her posture became the worse for wear and she wouldn’t walk upright as she was afraid she’d fall. She stopped doing physical therapy, she stopped going upstairs at all for the shower, and she won’t watch anything but a few channels of TV as that’s I guess the only things she will watch where she won’t feel bad? No movies, none of her other regular shows, just game show network and HGTV.
Visiting her was always bittersweet this year. She does have memories and does know who we are. But she’s been completely crippled by her fear, and some obsessive compulsive behaviors about food, sleeping, and moving that we are helpless to break at this point.
I’ve sped through what has happened this past year because it’s not necessary to detail the decline each day. Who she was last January compared to now is shocking. Stacie and I had talked about a home, but it wasn’t a giant priority at the time as I had to deal with Larry and Stacie was out of town starting her new career. But now it’s time to act. We visited some assisted living homes this past Friday, and found one that we both think she’ll be good in. It makes me so sad to even realize I have to do this for someone who is only 71, but it’s no longer safe or beneficial for her to live at home and have a caregiver there. I went yesterday, meeting Stacie there, to talk to mom about this decision. We’d had discussions about it with her before, and of course the conversations were never great, but I think she always understood it was for her safety and benefit, even if she really wasn’t a huge fan of going. But it’s time now. She listened and understood, although of course you could tell it wasn’t great news for her.
I don’t really have any other options except to do this. It will sound defensive of me to say, but fuck any of you who think this is me pawning off some kind of responsibility to give up my life and become her caregiver. To be frank, I made a choice with Larry, and I had to do all that with him at the end. I’m done with that. I’m not qualified or willing to be a nurse, clean her shit, shower her and feed her. Maybe there are others who would happily do that and to them I say god bless. But fuck you if you think I’m now obligated to have to basically end my life doing this for the rest of what “youth” I do have. I welcome your judgment though, and can’t wait to tell you, if you do have that thought, to go fuck yourself. Where have you been this last year to help? No one has been there for her, not her sisters, no one besides Stacie and me. So yeah, get the fuck out of here if you think you’re going to judge me.
Having said that! Yesterday after talking with mom, I left with Sveta. She had come with me as I needed a witness for some paperwork to sign, and on the way back, we thought maybe to go grab some food. So we went to Burger Basket, a place from our Monrovia childhoods. Then after that, we made our way to Pasadena for a brief Starbucks stop, meandered around the Best Buy, and then drove to Michaels for some craft stuff as I’m trying to figure out what to do with me and Larry’s rings. We then drove to Old Town Pasadena for a nice afternoon drinking at Rocco’s and shopping along the street. We both got new sunglasses, and I got a new duvet cover for the bed, and bought some clothes at Lucky Brand. All in all, a nice afternoon for what had been a pretty stressful week. Then that night, I went to an absolutely hilarious improv show at the Largo called Middleditch and Schwartz. Best improv I’ve ever seen, and ridiculously funny.
Anyway, I love you, mom, and I’m sorry what this last year has been for you. I honestly think there’s a good chance you’ll be happy at this new place when we do this, and you’ll get some good chances for socializing, security knowing someone is always there, and just having that comfort.
When we went back in January for Larry’s funeral, one of the first things I talked about with family back there was I’d like to go to Miami for the annual Burger Bash. I actually wasn’t sure if it was going to be too late to make this request, but it ended up not being the case. Jamie, Brad, and the family all made it happen, and to them, I say thank you so much. They hooked me up with a flight and hotel and admission to the Burger Bash, which was amazing. I’m definitely going to break down the weekend with pictures, naturally, but just the fact that they were so kind and able to make this happen was wonderful. Enough preamble, let’s talk about the weekend!
I flew out on Thursday afternoon from LAX, getting there in the evening. Jamie and Rachel were already there as Jamie was part of helping get everything going as the Schweid & Sons company was helping present the Burger Bash event. Brad and Tina were not in town yet and would be there Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, my late request did mean I wasn’t able to stay at the same hotel as them, but I ended up at the Nautilus, a few blocks north of where they were at the Lowe’s. It was fabulous, and the room was wonderful as well.
This min-bar was something else
Room 542 has a dick peephole
THe lobby of the Nautilus
Me alone at my restaurant the first night
This wine glass got filled up a lot
Rachel and Jamie already had dinner plans, so I was on my own the first night. I didn’t know Miami and it was already 9:30 so I was content to just eat at the hotel, and so I went to the hotel restaurant which was closing at 10. They were accommodating though, and after sitting at the bar, I was chatting up the bartender and the manager like some kind of chatty cathy. It made the time go by and Evan, the bartender, gave me some intel on interesting places to visit in Miami outside of Miami Beach, which is basically their Times Square and meant for tourists. That helped me on Saturday when I did go sightseeing! Evan and the manager definitely had a DGAF attitude by the end of the night, and I may have paid for one glass of wine but they easily poured nearly a bottle’s worth of it in my glass, even letting me pour my own glass once. Needless to say, I got a LOT o’ wine.
Anyway, the next day I wasn’t feeling as bad as expected, although a little dehydrated. I went down to the restaurant again for breakfast, sitting in the outdoor area to enjoy the weather. It wasn’t too warm which was appreciated, and comfortable enough for shorts. Rachel walked over by the time I was finishing breakfast, and we then proceeded to walk north up the shore, with Rachel giving me a tour. It was nice to catch up with her as we really don’t have a lot of time for that typically. She’s also noticeably pregnant at this point, which is so exciting. Here are some pics from that walk along Miami Beach:
My view the next morning
Topher in Miami
Outdoor table for breakfast looking towards the pool and beach
Beautiful path from the back gate
Rachel and I hung out that morning and walked up and down the beach
Colorful lifeguard stations
The clouds rolled in and out all day
Baby on board
The venue where Rachel and Jamie were going to get married
The Faena is an insanely posh hotel
It was around 1 or so when we had walked back to the Lowe’s to meet up with Jamie, as well as Brad, Tina, Zach and Jake, who had flown in and arrived by that point. Always a joy to see them, and of course my Tina, and we all had some lunch in the Lowe’s restaurant, at which point Donna and David also arrived. They live in Florida a big chunk of the year, so they’re about an hour away by car from Miami. After lunch, we then wandered around the beach a little, and I took a fantastic pic of Continue reading Miami with the Schweids!→
Going through each week is definitely an up and down experience. I’m blessed to have the friends I do, as they are happily keeping me engaged and doing stuff. As you’ll see in these pictures, I do have fun. And I can at times not think about Larry’s death, and I don’t feel bad about that, as I know it’s good to embrace life however I can. There are points of each day though that still break my heart and I need a moment. Like today. I decided to do another little bit of cleaning. Last week I worked on streamlining some of Larry’s stuff out of the bathroom cabinets. I thought that would be the easiest to do, and it probably was, but it was still emotional, as there were still some medicines and things that he had to use during his cancer fight. There was also stuff from before that, like LONG before that, that Larry should have thrown out years, if not decades ago. So at least I could laugh at times. Today though, I tackled the top of the dresser in our bedroom, as it was stacked with the clothes that he could wear at the end. It hadn’t made any sense to try to organize the while he was alive and needed them, as sometimes it was necessary to grab a quick change of clothes to keep him clean.
Obviously, this was harder than cleaning his bathroom stuff. I did clean it up, and decided which things really weren’t worth keeping, but I couldn’t get rid of it all yet. I kept some things for myself, and some things I folded and put away. Larry’s side was on the right in the dresser, and just opening those drawers up was painful and caused me to cry. I really don’t know when I’ll be able to move to the phase of getting rid of his stuff. There’s obviously no need for me to immediately, but I also recognize it has to happen some day.
I then was in the office trying to just straighten some stuff up down here as it’s admittedly a small mess here with a lot of paperwork and things kind of anywhere there is a flat surface. I looked in his small drawers there and found a small Hallmark bag – apparently he had gone and bought a few cards for me, including a birthday card, a Valentine’s day card, and an anniversary card. That did the trick, and I had a full-on meltdown. The cards hadn’t been written in yet. But it was nice. Then of course at that moment, work called about some bullshit thing that just was like, thanks for reminding me I hate everything. I’ll never get rid of some things, and those cards definitely aren’t going anywhere. Glad I was able to see the Valentine’s day card today – yesterday sucked but it was never a holiday that Larry and I went crazy for, but still, a “holiday’ about loved ones still hurts a lot.
Anyway, I had a full week at work, although I only made it into the office once. Had a few days where I just couldn’t make it out of bed early, which is not good. One night I had a full on panic attack about everything going on, so yeah, couldn’t quite get the energy to go in. But as I was getting to at the beginning of this post, my friends are really my rock and my strength at this point. I don’t want to take advantage nor become solely dependent on their presence, but some days it’s just good to be with them. I am on my own again at this point, and I am finding the strength to be okay with it. I’m sad of course, as I don’t really see me finding anyone else with how I look and my age, but I can still find things to occupy my time and be happy with, especially with friends, and hopefully just find some kind of meaning or purpose until it’s time for me to die.
So here are some pics from the last week or so – there’s been some really fun stuff. To start, here’s what I was doing last week with friends. Rekha was celebrating her birthday in WeHo a little belatedly, but it was a blast. Started at Rocco’s WeHo for a drag brunch, and it was flamazing. A few hours later, we walked over to the Abbey to enjoy the ambience and fun. Can’t deny by the end I was a little drunk and got melancholy, but my friends were there to help and support, understanding exactly what was happening. Just miss Larry a lot.
Rekha’s WeHo Birthday Fun – February 7, 2020:
Bethany and Rekha
Rekha and Nicki
My favorite picture of Nicki
The drag queens came out into the crowd – it was delightful
She was the host and stunning
Rekha got to go up
Made it to the Abbey
Bethany and Jamy
with Carey and Paras
Way before it got crowded – normally you pay the table costs
Gogo boy fun
The next day, I was a bit dehydrated from Saturday’s activities! Nicki and I had gone to dinner afterwards, so it wasn’t like I had been drinking until the late night, thank god. But still, a lot of beer (which is what I focused on that day) has consequences. Anyway, on Sunday, it was the Oscars, and Ken had invited me to his annual party. It was a lot of fun and I got to see the whole family, of course. Before then, I had been assembling my Lego Empire State Building (which is massive, btw) and making my world famous chocolate chip cookies for the party, while watching Arrival. What a movie that is, and it keeps rising in my rankings. It’s easily in my top 15? Such an emotional movie, and even more so with how I’m feeling. What a weird thing to contemplate – would you go through something having the knowledge of how it will go and end? I know I would, and that’s why I know that the 11 years I had with Larry were magical and worth it all. I wish the cancer hadn’t been part of his story, but that’s neither here nor there.
Oscars Sunday, February 9, 2020
I enjoyed the Academy Awards – very glad Parasite won. Sveta and I watched that a few weeks ago and it blew us away.
This past week, work kept me busy and in the evenings, I did usually have somewhere to go, which was nice.
On Monday afternoon, I did go into DTLA for work, but mostly so I could have lunch with Barb. We went to the Joey’s DTLA which is the same restaurant (but in Woodland Hills at the Warner Center) that Larry & I took Fran and Joel to one of the first times they stayed with us when we had moved in here at the Glen. Always fun catching up and talking with Barb, and one of those people I’m so glad to have in my life. You never know when a new addition to your friends is actually going to stick, and she has.
On Tuesday night, I met up with Nicki down at the Century City mall to eat at the Din Tai Fung there. It’s huge! We wisely got there early enough and found a seat in their bar area. But it gets packed, even on a Tuesday night. That mall is a trip too – so much money there. And lots of attractive guys?
On Wednesday, Sveta came over and I had a puff too many on the weed and got pretty fucking high for a brief moment. I braced for a NYE 2014 situation but happily the wave crested and I came back down. I think if I was expecting and aiming for super-high, it would be fine, but I am really aiming for just chilling out. So yeah, two puffs is my max in a session. That gets me to a nice place.
On Thursday, I went to a PwC going-away for a cool associate, Danny. It was at this Korean BBQ in a mall in Little Tokyo I’d never known about – it was a lot of fun. We walked over to the Angel City Brewery and played an epically long game of Sorry, which really is a bitch of a game. Very funny though. Mel and I won, of course. And I was out till like 12, on a school night!!! WTF. I can’t hang like that too much. Was way tired on Friday.
And yesterday, on Friday aka Valentine’s Day, Nicki took me out. It was very sweet, and I appreciated it, as it is a hard day to not be doing something, especially with it being so close to Larry’s death still. We first went to dinner at El Coyote near her house on Beverly. It tied together with the second part of the date, as we saw Once Upon a Time in Hollywood at the New Beverly Theater, which is owned and run by Quentin Tarantino. Kind of a cool thing. Plus, in the movie Sharon Tate is shown having dinner with her friends at El Coyote (the real one) on that fateful night. The movie also shows Cliff and Jake having dinner that same night at Casa Vega, which is also a place we’ve now been to. I’m such a hipster. It was a blast of a night and that movie does not get old, and if anything, it just gets better for me. Still can’t get over how insanely violent that 10 minute section is.
Valentine’s Day with Nicki – Feb 14, 2020
Ralphie and Eeyore miss Larry
Delicious food started the night off at El Coyote
Inside the theater
Finally, to end this ridiculously long post, I’m sharing this video that makes me ridiculously happy and has motivated me to even buy the Just Dance 2020 game for my Switch, just so I can play this and learn the moves. In the 2000s, some of you may remember how obsessed I got with Dance Dance Revolution – who knows if it’ll enter that level, but still, watch this video and be amazed at the dancing skill of the group and chuckle at how awesome the “Rasputin” song is!
It was a good day to share memories about Larry with friends and family out here on the west coast. The loss is still so raw that I still find myself dumbfounded that this is happening. I wait to wake up and discover this was all a terrible nightmare, but that isn’t the reality. My reality is that Larry lost his fight with cancer after giving it his all. There’s no turning back time. His goodness and spirit no longer have a body to live in and, I am choosing to believe, are now out in the world with us in some form or fashion. I have to believe that. I need to believe that. I need him here still.
So that’s the mindset I find myself in now, and it was the mindset I still had this past Sunday. Regardless of the loss and grief, having this event with loved ones was wonderful. Barb and Jack completely went above and beyond hosting us at their gorgeous home in Newbury Park, and my friends dove in and provided the goodies and the work to get everything ready on Sunday. I am a very lucky, blessed guy that this was all done for Larry. it shows the impact he had on so many.
We had time from 10-3 on Sunday, and during it was just a good time catching up with folks I hadn’t seen in a while (the Barnes family! NBC friends! Larry’s coworkers and friends! ) and just being there with everyone. I did want to say something while most people were still there, so here’s what my notes were from that day – I cried many tears trying to get through this:
Thank you for being here – I wrote something for Larry’s funeral that isn’t right for today. While I still feel a lot of those emotions – the rage, the sadness, the loss – I know I can’t dwell endlessly on them. So I grieve day by day, with some days easier than others.
What I want to share instead is just that I was so filled with love when I was with Larry. And with his death, there’s a hole in my heart that I don’t know how to deal with. But each day, the love from my friends and family helps. I know the pain won’t really ever go away but with time, there will be healing and so I hold on to that and smile when I think of things Larry would have loved or try to cook a meal knowing Larry is probably shaking his head at all the things I’m doing wrong.
There are still going to be tears and I don’t try to avoid them. All I can do now is try to convey what I’ve learned – please embrace and love those in your life as often as you can. None of us know the time we have left, so try not to let life slip by without appreciation. And for the love of god, take care of your health and be proactive. Don’t hide from the colonoscopy because it makes you uncomfortable. Not that it would have saved Larry as he was still too young for it to have been done, but don’t ignore your body. We caught his cancer too late, so please, just don’t ignore your body and put your head in the sand.
I love you all and thank you for coming and thank you so much to Barbara and her family for letting us enjoy this day at her lovely home, and to my friends who helped make this whole event happen.
There were some clever and emotional ways that people were asked to contribute while there. Two guestbooks were there for people to write messages in – one for me, one for Fran. There are also letters that people can write messages in that will be sent to me and Fran. Also, people could paint on rocks and Mila will assemble them for something like a memorial we can have on my roofdeck. Tim also provided me a frame with one of his student films with Larry starring as “The Maestro” and it’s amazing. Just seeing his face in action in much younger, happier days was so nice.
Anyway, I am thrilled at how it all turned out. I’m torn though as part of me feels like this was a way for most people out there to have closure on Larry. I’m only just starting on that journey – there will never be closure. I don’t even know how to imagine life without him. I’m living it, I guess, but it’s a nightmare. All I have are memories now and to think about somehow “processing” them all away depresses me. It’s all just so fucked.
Here are pics from the day – pretty fantastic. Weirdly enough, the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant happened literally while we were driving through that area to Newbury Park, as it happened in Calabasas right before 10am. It was so foggy that day (and it was cold the entire day while the day before and the next day it was sunny and great). Insane how life can be just so fucked for any- and everyone.