Tag Archives: family

Coronavirus Diaries – The Beginning

All things considered, I decided to title this post ‘the beginning’ as I know that from all indicators out there, this social isolation we’re doing is likely not going to be short term.   That frightens me quite a bit.   I have the resources to get through this, but so many don’t.  I am lucky to be able to work from home, but I recognize that there’s so much uncertainty out there, who knows how long things can maintain?  We’re in unprecedented territory – the entire world is basically shutting down, for an unknown period of time.  Our government leadership is a fucking mess and are far too late and far too incompetent (accidentally, willfully, and/or arrogantly) to be trusted to manage the situation, with headlines bearing that out every moment.   A day feels like a week.  It’s just….unbelievable this is happening.

I’m relieved Larry isn’t here.   I think I mentioned that elsewhere in a post?  Maybe it’s just in conversations with others – the idea that if Larry were undergoing treatment now, and him having a weakened immune system because of it, and that if somehow he caught coronavirus from me or someone and that was what caused his death?   It’s utterly inconceivable –  my mind literally can’t deal with that.   I miss Larry so much, and I do wish I had healthy no-cancer Larry here as I am definitely feeling quite lonely and isolated.   I’m obviously not alone in that regard as everyone is feeling that, but a lot of people still have some kind of roommate or family to comfort or be comforted by.  I don’t.  I have my friends via text messages, phone calls, and that helps quite a bit.  But god I miss having my husband here.   Of course my first caveat stands – cancer Larry is not someone I could deal with having here at this moment.

Last week, Stacie and I moved mom into an assisted living facility.   Not much has gone right in my life this past year and a half, but in this case, we got that process started at the exact right (and as it likely turned out, last possible) moment.  She has her own room, all the cable she needs, her own bathroom and shower, and a big closet.   It’s a very nice set up, and there’s someone available 24/7.  She had a few nights where she was able to partake in going to the dining room and meet people, but obviously the older population (especially over 70) is at risk, so they’ve quarantined everyone into their room for safety and they get meals in their room now.   I know it’s not ideal but knowing she’s there versus being by herself at her house when the caregiver isn’t there would have also been a giant amount of stress for me.   Our timing couldn’t have been more critical in getting her there before this all started.   Mind you, the last week was very hard and there were some seriously annoying bumps doing it, but in the course of a week, I can barely even remember something that before might have driven me to still be angry about.  She’s there, she’s safe, and I was able to see her Saturday as I brought some additional things she needed, but now I know I won’t be able to see her again for a little while.

It’s crazy.  How is this happening?   I mean, I literally can’t believe what life is right now.   I watched my husband die just 2 months ago.  I buried him and tried to mourn and grieve him.   I thought that was the lowest I’d have to be, but guess what, my intuition was right.   I knew I couldn’t say ‘things can only get better’ as there’s no bottom in this world anymore.

I persist though and try to occupy my time:

  • I continue to work as hard as I can at my job – I don’t want to lose it as I’m supporting more than just me now.
  • I stay in touch with my friends, but god I miss actually seeing them and giving and receiving a hug.
  • I’ve been playing video games to pass the time.   The new VR set I got earlier this year is pretty fantastic and helps pass the time in a really immersive way (No Man’s Sky in VR is ridiculously cool).  I’m also playing The Division 2 (although the setting is a post-pandemic USA, so maybe I shouldn’t?), Dead Cells, Anno 2250 (ah, a future where things are so nice)….yeah, video games are definitely a way for me to forget the world a little.
  • I find myself falling down a Twitter hole and that is no good for my psyche.   It’s good for staying informed but the emotions there are all extreme, good or bad.   I have to take a break after a bit.
  • I’ve been very consistent with doing yoga every morning with the Yoga with Adriene Youtube channel – she’s amazing.   I found her when looking for lower back relief exercises and I have been a follower ever since.   It’s a wonderful and much needed way to start each day.  If you’ve ever thought of doing yoga, she’s super chill and a very friendly guide who is easy to follow along with.   I contrast it with Rodney Yee, whose ‘beginner’ series I bought, and man, that is false advertising, as his routines are very difficult.   So it was good to learn there are other approaches.
  • I’ve been reading.   I read Tom and Lorenzo’s book “Legendary Children” which covers LGBTQ history through the touchstone of Rupaul’s Drag Race.  It’s fantastic.  I learned so much about our history and the world of drag from it’s beginnings through to its evolution and persistence.   They’re good at telling the history and making it compelling, not that it needed all that much help.
  • Of course television is a mainstay:  Schitt’s Creek‘s final season has been fucking incredible.  I finished the latest season of Project Runway (very enjoyable!).  Just started Westworld Season 3 and am intrigued.  This latest season of Survivor (Winners at War) is epic and I love seeing an all-winner season where everyone is there to fucking play.  There’s others, but this is just me riffing.
  • I picked up the guitar again!  Larry bought me a guitar a few years back after the one I did have in NYC was stolen from our Duarte storage unit (along with my Transformers and childhood Legos, ugh!).  I never got the motivation back to get back into it as like any skill, it takes work and practice to be good at it.  But now I have time and I remember that working at the guitar was a nice way to calm down.  I found an app that is probably a little too simple but honestly, I’m here for slow and steady.   It’s interactive so it can hear what you’re playing and let you know if it’s wrong.  Kinda cool.

Just, fuck.   I was talking with folks at work on a conference call (obvs – we are all required to WFH now) and this truly is a moment that will be changing the world.  Just like 9/11, things were different after, forever.  Things will definitely have to change after this at a government preparedness level as well as how work and business function going forward.   Even just thinking about when finally we get to see other people in person again, it’s like, until there’s a cure/vaccine, you’ll be paranoid.  And then if another virus comes up, which of course it will, is the world going to be prepared and ready to do what needs to be done to prevent the world from stopping like it kind of is now?   So yeah, just, fuck.  Ha, as I write this, it sounds like I’m commanding you the reader to go fuck.  Maybe that’s not a bad idea either, if you can.   I know I miss Larry for that comfort too.   Having someone to hold and hold you, warmly and/or passionately, is something that I miss so much right now.  I didn’t know that feeling as a man in the closet, so when I did get to finally know what that was, and to now have it taken away for who knows how long?   It’s kind of awful.  I don’t know, it’s just all so much.

So why not some pictures?  Here are some from my first few days of social isolationing:

In Los Angeles, we’ve been getting TONS of rain.   There is occasional breaks which is good so it can kind of dry out, but we have a lot of rain still in the forecast!   And with less people out and about, our air quality is quite good.   I’ve seen news reports that the pollution around the world has dramatically improved due to this – maybe the coronavirus was the planet’s way of making us chill the fuck out on pollution.

Miami with the Schweids!

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.

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:

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 Brad & Tina’s family on the beach, and then we took a peek at the Burger Bash venue from the outside, although not allowed in just yet.  It was a good time.  Obviously what was missing was that Larry wasn’t here to celebrate, but I sincerely and truly hope that in some way, he was, whether it was mental or spiritual energy from us bringing him there.

The rest of the group was going to do other stuff after that, and while the Burger Bash wasn’t starting until 7 or so, Brad and I decided to walk around the famous part of Miami Beach that you always see on TV and movies.  Places you’ve definitely seen, like in The Birdcage, run up and down Collins Blvd.  It’s awesome.  Lots of eating, drinking, and merry making.  I never made it back to see it at night due to how things played out, but that would be fun one day.  Plus, it’d be fun to go back and see the gay scene once I’m in a bit better state.

After Brad and I got back, it was time to clean up and change for the Burger Bash.   I met up with Rachel and David to get our badges at the back entrance of the venue, and we were able to walk around a bit before the major crowds came in, and believe me, they did.   So what the Burger Bash is is basically a bunch of restaurants come to the event to show off their proud burger creation.  A panel of judges gets to sample all the entries, and after a few rounds of judging, one entrant is judged the best of the year.  It’s all very scientific!  🙂   I managed to try about 5 of the burgers before I was basically done.  I wish I had been able to get one of my friends to come as I think it would have been more fun, as the Schweids really had to work during this event.   I really missed Larry at this point as if he and I had been there together, we could laugh about it all or at least keep each other company.  So it did get a bit emotionally exhausting to be there after a while, and I did take off before possibly getting to see or meet Rachel Ray, the presenter of the winner (who turned out to be a place called Butter – I am pretty sure I tried their burger and it was great).  Here’s an article about it:

https://www.miamiherald.com/miami-com/restaurants/article240470016.html

Here are my pics from around the event!

The next day, I wasn’t sure what the plan was, but I didn’t really have anything mapped out for most of the day except for at night when Jamie had invited me to dinner with Rachel and his friends. I didn’t want to just putt around at the pool or beach, as that’s not really my thing and also the weather wasn’t quite right for that.   So I remembered that Evan the bartender from my first night had recommended the Design District and the Wynwood Walls as places worth seeing, so I was like, let’s do that!   I downloaded some walking tours that helped me plot a route to go along, although it wasn’t Rick Steves quality with explanations of what I was looking at.   But that was okay – it was worth just going out and exploring.   So I took an Uber over the bridge back to the main Miami area and got dropped off in the Design District.   It has a lot of fabulous architecture mixed in with a Rodeo Drive caliber of retail, if that helps set the picture.   See for yourself:

I enjoyed walking around this area a lot.   There was an institute of contemporary art there with one floor open for visitors, and it was free, so that was great.   Sadly, much like every other big city, there is a long street of deserted gallery fronts covered in colorful paper to hide from the fact that this section of town is a ghost town.   It’s not a surprise, I guess, as likely the rents are insanely high and who the hell are the patrons of galleries anymore?   That seems very much like a 1980s thing.  Anyway, I wandered around and got my fill of the Design District, and then plotted my walk to the Wynwood Walls, which was only a half mile walk away, so there I went!   Of course, the rain started coming down, but it’s Florida, so you can likely just wait 30 minutes and it’ll go away.   So I spent some time getting lunch at a ramen restaurant.  Of course, the moment I step out, the rain comes back even harder.  But still, just wait 10 minutes, and it went away, and I was able to continue my walk.

The Wynwood Walls is an arts area where you can walk through this space of public art.  It’s not graffiti per se, as it’s literally art painted on the walls.  Maybe tomato/tomatoh, but it’s not just beautiful tagging – it’s full on art on the walls.  It’s gorgeous.   You walk through, with tons of other people/tourists, looking at a lot of installations.   There’s also small galleries mixed in along the way, which was great as the sun did come out and when it did, it would get hot.  One of the galleries was for Shepard Fairey, and I was this close to buying something before realizing it probably is something I could just buy online and delivered home.   Anyway, Wynwood Walls is definitely worth a look if you’re in Miami!

On the way back, I grabbed some pictures of the Nautilus as I really hadn’t gotten good shots of it when arriving or the day before.

Finally, that afternoon after I got back, I met up with Jamie and two of his friends, Michael and Abby, at the Lowe’s pool bar, who were in town for this event and are old friends of his.  They were fun as hell and we had a good couple of hours there before it was time to change into dinner clothes and meeting at Katsuya in the SLS Hotel.   Here’s where things get a bit hazy for me – as folks, I drank like a muthafuckin’ fish that night, and I really don’t think I ate that much at dinner.   Not that I don’t like sushi, that’s for sure, but I think just kept drinking sake instead of eating.   whoooooo boy, I left consciousness.   Like, I can remember things, but really, it’s just images and such.  I know we went to a different area (of the same hotel? not sure.   I think we walked to a different hotel too), and then I think there was conversations with strangers and dancing a little, and I’m not even sure I continued drinking.  I honestly don’t think I did?  LOL, the funniest part of this story is that I got to get a picture with Neil Patrick Harris because Jamie and Rachel are friendly with him and his husband, David.   I did not ask to get a picture but maybe Jamie thought I looked like I needed a random celebrity encounter, so guess what, there’s a picture of me and NPH below.  He looks thrilled, and it cracks me the hell up as I am clearly drunk.  Wow, haven’t been that drunk in a while – and I guess it still wasn’t technically blackout drunk, but certainly adjacent.  I remember walking up the street with Jamie’s friends and got to my hotel – really not sure how that happened that I got into my room and bed, but amusingly, I guess I left all my lights on overnight.  Like it mattered, as I passed the hell out.   Probably the best that the lights were on and the curtains were open as I did wake up with plenty of time to realize how hungover I was and that I had to pack and go to the airport in a few hours.   Folks, hangovers for a 5.5 hour flight are NOT GREAT.   I made it though with plenty of time.   I think I’m still fighting the sleep debt from this weekend, what with the jet lag and the hangover.

And that was the grand finale of the weekend.   The pictures following my decadent last night are from the plane leaving Miami and arriving in LA.   Getting home was bittersweet.   It’s always nice to be on home turf, but my home turf is no longer the same place with Larry dead.  I got very sad being home, and I guess it’s to be expected.  I’m doing better two nights later, but yeah, this weekend was a way to briefly not have it be all encompassing.  Life goes on though, and my grief continues.  But for one weekend, it was a different thing, one that made things quite interesting.

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.