Tag Archives: family

Larry’s Los Angeles Memorial

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.

Diversions: Sveta in the City

The next day, on Saturday, we checked out at 8am, and headed right into the city.  The weather was unseasonably warm for NJ/NY in January, with the temps hitting the high 60s, which followed the prior days being in the 30s and 40s.  It was a perfect day to show NYC to Sveta, as there was no traffic going into the city and very little tourist traffic in the city.   We parked at 53rd & 6th, then walked up 6th to look for a breakfast place.  Walked by Rue 57 and had to laugh as we were there around 8:45am and the hostess inside just glared at us while we futilely tried to open the door, realizing it wasn’t open till 9am.  We strolled up another block to see that Jam’s Restaurant was open, so screw you Rue 57.  It was a delightful breakfast and had mostly nice ambience to give Sveta a taste of fun NYC restaurants, although the shrieking toddlers in attendance made us want to do horrible things.  Ah well, you can’t have it all it seems.

After a nice, leisurely breakfast, we continued walking up 6th and into Central Park, meandering around the lower section of the park, with me pointing out the area landmarks that I knew, and reminiscing about Larry’s love for running there.  Seeing all the runners around made me miss him more.  He loved his weekend runs there.  Made it to Bethesda Fountain, then headed west to 72nd St, where we were able to see the Strawberry Fields area, the Dakota, my old apartment, and then turned south on Broadway to walk back to Midtown.

At 50th, we headed to Rockefeller Center to visit the Top of the Rock observation deck.  I think it’s the most spectacular view of NYC over all the others.  Got some great photos in.   Saw the Rink, we went to Magnolia Bakery so Nicki could get some banana pudding, and by then our feet were exhausted.  It was time for lunch by this point, and while sitting by a fountain out front of Rock Center, I realized Ippudo Westside was nearby, so we continued over there, enjoying the sights.  Happily, no wait to get seated there for lunch, and dammmmn it was good.  Didn’t have time for more activities as they were flying out that afternoon at 5, and we managed to get back to the car right at 2, with them dropping me off back at Fran and Joel’s around 2:30pm, and they headed off to Newark.

At Fran and Joel’s I was pretty fucking exhausted, and I ended up taking a short nap while Fran and a bunch of her girlfriends were talking.  Joel’s brother Herbie and his wife Aileen were also there, and I got to chat with them.  Pretty much there was gabbing going on until about 10:30pm, and by that point I was done, D-U-N.  Managed to sleep pretty great on the couch this time.

Today, Sunday, I was flying back home, but not until 4pm.  Joel, Fran and I had a nice talk over breakfast about the future and what it holds – I do feel that I was wrong about my initial assessment and I feel terrible that I ever said it to Larry.  This family is my family, and they’re not casting me out.  I am relieved, as my own families (by blood) are just really not a big aspect of my life anymore, regrettably.  Stacie called and during the call, got a chance to talk to Fran.  I guess Larry’s watch is going to Trent.  That’s good with me.  A second shiva was being hosted today at Fran’s, starting at 2.  But people came over earlier of course, with Herbie and Aileen coming over late in the morning, David & Donna stopping by briefly and then heading out as they were flying home to Florida today.   Jon & Alyssa, Brad & Tina were over earlier too, and I was glad to get to say goodbye to them again.  I headed out at 1:45pm and now I’m on a flight headed home.  Some part of me is relieved for this weekend to be done, but I also can’t help but brace for what is to come in the months (and years)to come.

Pics from the flight home to LA:

Laying Larry to Rest in New Jersey

On Wednesday, we arrived in New Jersey and got back to Fran and Joel’s apartment, all of us exhausted.  We were hungry though and made it over to Cafe Italiano just up the road, where David, Donna, and Brad met up with us for dinner.  It was obviously hard to see people now in person but it was also good that Fran’s family was all there for her.  I managed to invite myself to the Burger Bash in Miami though, as I know I just need to make myself get out of the house over this next year, and it’s an event that Larry and I kept talking about doing and never did.  I’ll hold him in my heart when this happens.  Didn’t sleep well that night, as while the couch there is better than that weird daybed in Joel’s office, it’s still not my bed.  I made plans to spend the next few nights at various places as I couldn’t bear to be at Fran’s the entire time.

I took some pictures from the plane that I think Larry would have enjoyed:

So on Thursday, we had the morning together; spoke to the rabbi who was speaking at the funeral so she’d have some facts to talk about regarding Larry, and then Fran went to a hairdresser to get her hair back to what she expects it to be — Jon and Alyssa picked me up in the early afternoon as I was spending the night at their house that day.   Nicki and Sveta were flying in this day too.   It was nice to spend time with Jon & Alyssa – they swung by Wendy’s to let me get some lunch, and then we headed back to their gorgeous house in Livingston for the evening.  It was obviously very hard to see Alyssa in person – she’d seen Larry shortly before his death, and it was hard.  We all have the relief he’s not suffering anymore, but still, Larry was her brother and she’s now lost him.  Their daughters Rachel and Stacey were picked up from school, Nicki and Sveta landed and headed over there, and we ordered dinner for all of us to have.  Did drink a few too many glasses of red wine, but that’s what you do when you’re paying tribute to your loved one; Looked through a ton of pictures that night too, and Jon ended up printing out a lot so that there were 3 poster boards of pictures commemorating various points of Larry’s life.  Alyssa and Jon were going to host the shiva the next day after the funeral, and wanted to have some visuals for people to look at along with the printed out pictures and albums we collected.  Slept that night in their guest room in the lower level of the house, and while much more comfortable than a couch, it was still difficult to sleep.   It was mostly from knowing that the next day we were going to bury Larry.

Friday was the day we all were bracing for and hoping to get through.  Woke up and had some breakfast, and then got ready.  I wore my suit from the wedding – I had given Larry’s suit from the wedding for him to wear in the casket.  They covered up all the mirrors in the house for shiva.  I then rode with Jon, Alyssa, and Harlan to the cemetery, while Leslie stayed behind to watch Rachel and Stacey and also be there for the caterers.  Pulling into the cemetery was hard, and to then walk around the foyer and realize it was really happening was surreal.  We were there early, and Fran and Joel joined us shortly.  After that, the stream of people steadily continued and a lot of greetings and condolences were made.  My friends made it, as did some of the team from PwC (Gabriela, Gracie, and Aleshka), which helped me a lot as many of the people there were family and friends.  Finally, the service was to begin and the attendees all sat, afterward the immediate family walked in to the front pew.  Larry’s casket was there up front, and that’s when I kind of had to catch my breath.  Not an open casket, but still, that’s where his body was.   After the rabbi had some opening prayers and remarks and songs, three of us spoke.  I went first.  I had written a eulogy so that I wouldn’t ramble as I knew ahead of time if I hadn’t it would have been a mess.   I like what I wrote, and I will post that somewhere if I do end up transferring this journal to my site.  I balanced my thoughts between sadness, anger, regret, and love.

I’m here to bury my love, my husband, my Larry.

I do this with sadness – thinking of all the things he won’t be able to do because cancer cut his life so tragically short.  All the things we won’t be able to celebrate or enjoy as a married couple, because of a disastrous aggressive disease.

I bury him with anger – I resent the fact that he wasn’t one of the lucky ones to beat cancer.  It’s not rational to feel this way and I understand that, but I am angry at what I’ve lost, what his family and friends have lost, and what the world has lost.

I lay him to rest with relief – Larry fought so hard over these past 18 months.  He was heroic, and he was brave beyond anything I could ever imagine – the pain and discomfort the chemotherapy brought on him didn’t keep him from wanting to fight and persist against cancer.  But it wore him down, and as the neuropathy side effects ravaged his fingers and toes, they took away his passions like his ability to run and the confidence to work with his hands; he also lost the satisfaction of enjoying food, which hit him hard emotionally as cooking was something he truly loved.  Larry was worn down.  The last 3 months of his life were some of the toughest ever, and to just be a witness and help him through it broke me, yet Larry was the one who kept going. Even with close to no treatment option remaining, he still said let’s go forward.  Larry was my hero, but he’s now finally free from his suffering.

I say goodbye with love – Larry was the one I’d been hoping was out there for me.  I was the lucky one who found him – and I think it was almost immediate I knew he was my true love.  Larry expanded my life in many ways that have changed me for the better and I hope to continue living in a way that would make Larry proud.  But with his passing, my heart is completely broken today, and it’s hard to consider a future without him.  But I know Larry wouldn’t want me, or any of us, to give up.  So it’ll be a day by day process – and each day, I’ll continue to celebrate and remember the memories we made together, with friends and with family.

Thank you for being here, and please just embrace those in your life and appreciate what we have.  Nothing is guaranteed, and when there’s love out there, celebrate it.  I love you Larry, and will miss you.

I made it through but it was difficult and I know I wasn’t able to keep my emotions in check.  Joel spoke after I did, and it was a lovely speech about Larry’s life and his relationships with his family.   Alyssa spoke last, lamenting the loss of her brother.  The rabbi concluded the service with more prayers and a small recap of some of the events in Larry’s life.  It was nice but also just felt like an incomplete accounting of it, but what else can you do.  We then all went to the cars to drive to the graveside.  It was there that it actually ended up being the hardest part for me, as that’s when Larry’s coffin was lowered into the ground.  Prayers followed along with a ceremonial act of attendees shoveling dirt into the grave.  That part broke me.

Note that in the Jewish tradition, the gravestone reveal is done at a much later date, about 6-9 months after the burial.  At that time, possibly around September of 2020, we’ll return and I will have a better picture of my love’s final resting place.  I just couldn’t bear to take a picture of the casket or the still-unfilled grave.  Today wasn’t a day that I felt like taking pictures as most of the events will be seared into my brain.

After that, there was a slow trickle of people leaving to head towards Alyssa and Jon’s.  I went back to the gravesite a little, but by then it was already that the funeral team were filling the grave completely.  It felt odd to stand there.  We then drove back to their house and began the shiva.  It was a much needed second half of the day.  It was just everyone eating, drinking, and comforting each other.   A lot of laughs and videos, and I was very appreciative of all the love that was in the air.    So relieved to have Nicki and Sveta there as well, as I needed my friends there too.  Not really easy to recap that except to say it was lovely, I cried a lot, and Larry hopefully felt all the love and care that so many family and friends had for him.  I didn’t take any pictures of folks except for one video, which I kind of regret now (writing on Jan 31, 2020). Although Jon had created some photo collages which were hung on the walls and I took pictures of those as they’re amazing:

Nicki and Sveta and I went to dinner ourselves at Sweet Basil, a nearby restaurant, as I wanted time alone with them and away from the main group.  That night I had also booked a room at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Teaneck that Nicki and Sveta were both staying at, again, as I just needed a break from the grieving of the family.   I know that both Fran and I are going to have a long process ahead of us – but I will honestly say that we are each going to need some space to grieve.  It was a nice hotel, and we spent some time hanging out but all realized it had been a long day and we needed to crash.  What we did come up with though was a plan to go into NYC in the morning and spend a few hours there as Sveta had never been!

A hotel bed was more comfortable, and I think I did sleep, but still, it’s very hard to deal with the fact that Larry is truly gone.  It’s been that way, truly, for at least a month considering how much he was suffering, but still, there’s no more knowing he’s downstairs or might crack a smile even while miserable.  It’s over.

Rest in Peace, My Love

Larry died on Tuesday morning, Jan 7, 2020, at 1:20am. Monday, we were basically waiting on him to finally surrender.  Sveta came over, and we all started listening to the many favorite tunes of Larry’s while waiting, which helped make the mood a bit more celebratory than the dread it had been when it was silent or the TV.  I think I managed to get every song in that he’d have loved, with singing and crying and laughing throughout.  By the time 9-10 pm was reached, Kathleen had left and Edison had replaced her.   We started falling asleep and Edison encouraged us to go sleep in our beds, ensuring us he’d come get us before Larry passed.   Around 1:15 am, Edison woke me up and any momentary confusion was immediately gone as I remembered we were expecting this.  Larry’s strong heart kept him going far longer than what would have been expected of someone much older, but finally he had stopped breathing, prompting Edison to get us.  We were there then as Edison continued monitoring Larry’s heart, and we were holding his hand and head when it finally did stop.  It’s so difficult to write this now – I’m not even sure I can.  He’s gone.  He’s finally free from his suffering of the past year.   I can’t be selfish and want him here still – he truly suffered this whole last year and it was easy for us to look past it and still want him here, but it is a relief that he can be at peace.  I just can’t process having to continue life without him.  We were a pair, and not having my other half leaves me devastated.  For Fran and Joel, it’s obviously the same intensity of loss.  For so many others, there is a profound loss recognized too, as Larry just was special for so many.

The rest of the day was hard.  Joel had made the arrangements with the mortuary here in California that would then coordinate transfer of Larry’s body to New Jersey.  They arrived about an hour later to pick him up – Edison had arranged Larry to be covered except for his face.  A little grin had formed on his face and it broke my heart but also gave me hope that perhaps he was finally okay again. Seeing him get wrapped up and taken away was devastating.   I talked to Stacie and Mila in the early morning, then passed out a little longer back in bed, and then got up and showered as I knew the day had to continue.  Tears and talking followed in the morning.  Sveta came over around 1pm with El Pollo Loco, and then later Nicki and Mila joined us.  It was a time to just sit and be, laughing about stuff and crying at times, and getting things organized for the following days, as we had to go back to New Jersey for the service.   The service will be on Friday, so Joel, Fran, and I flew back on Wednesday.  Nicki and Sveta are coming out Thursday evening, and then they fly back to LA on Saturday while I’m staying till Sunday.  I’m then taking the next two days off and returning to work next Wednesday.  I am not sure how I’m going to do that, but I kind of have to having basically run out of leave.  I’m not taking the unpaid caregiver leave extension after all, which will definitely help financially.  The mortuary is getting the paperwork handled for the death certificates, and then I’ll have to start all the processes of taking over Larry’s accounts.   It’s going to be a long process, emotionally and legally.  But the next few days are going to certainly be the hardest in a while, as laying him to rest still makes me uncontrollably sad.  Another memorial will happen in LA later, but not planned yet.

So we’re on the United flight back to NJ on this Wednesday morning, with Fran and Joel having packed up all their stuff and heading back home.   I’m unspeakably tired as it’s not easy to sleep yet.  Day by day, I guess.

Right Before the End

We’ve started 24-hour hospice care.   Later on Saturday, Larry started moaning and we realized that we needed to call the hospice number.  I told them what was going on and they agreed, sending Edison, an LVN, over at 6pm and through to 8am the first night, to be able to take care of Larry.  Larry really stopped being responsive at this time, in terms of being able to communicate.  He could grunt and react in pain or surprise to certain things, but we don’t hear words anymore.  That Saturday night, Sveta came over.  It was nice to have her there.  I used that time for us to go through the many pictures I’ve taken over the last 11 years – a nice trip through memories.  We also just drank wine, cried, and helped each other get through the night and this new experience of having someone there all the time.  Sveta drove me to Carl’s Jr. to get some dinner, and then went home.  It was nice to get out of the house.  A happy surprise was that my cousin Rich and his wife Su sent a framed print of the doppelgänger we found at the Norton Simon museum.  It was amazing, and provided a much needed smile.

On Sunday, we then met Kathleen, who was taking the 8am-8pm shift.  Both of these nurses have been very kind and are able to take care of Larry – and I think there’s only been one time the diaper needed changing, and I’m still thankful to Noel, the bather, who came over on Saturday morning to help us out as Larry had filled the diaper that morning and while I had been able to at least get Larry out of it and put a new diaper kind of on him, it was not a solid job.  Noel showed how to do it effectively.  I’ve not had to do it though as we now have 24-hour care.  During the day on Sunday, we watched a couple movies (Casino Royale, Inside Out) and then in the evening, Nicki came over and we all watched the Golden Globes ceremony and had some dinner from Maria’s.  During this time, Larry was basically unconscious and sleeping, although we’ve learned that hearing is the last sense to go, so he is able to listen. His understanding isn’t known and he barely responds now.

It’s Monday now, and it’s getting worse.  His breathing is very labored and his vitals are certainly dropping more and more.  I can’t imagine he will live beyond today, but because his heart is so young still, he may fight longer than he would if he were in his 70s or 80s.  He’s getting morphine and Ativan every hour to try to help calm his breathing, but it really isn’t working.  So we’re bedside most of the time now.