The Hospital, Part Two: Farts Save Lives

This is the fifteenth chapter of Love Song by Julienne (ft Cancer). The other parts are listed below.

Prologue – Julienne
Chapter 1 – Meeting Julienne
Chapter 2 – Finding Julienne
Chapter 3 – A Kiss, and a Confession
Chapter 4 – Of Spaniel Day Lewis, Parents, and Dothraki Love Nests
Chapter 5 – Brioche French Toast
Chapter 6 – Halloween with Becca
Chapter 7 – A Ring, and a Conversation
Chapter 8 – Her Woods
Chapter 9 – Christmas, and a Chase
Chapter 10 – Alantimes Day
Chapter 11 – A Dress and a Concert
Chapter 12 – Graduation (or, Freeeeddddoooommmm)

Chapter 13 – The Joy Before the Storm

Chapter 14 – The Hospital, Part One

The first time I went back to our house after Julienne left us, I was still in a sort of Zen-like state. I’d been in that oddly calm and peaceful place since about an hour after her death and all the way through her funeral, for the most part. When I wept, it was gentle and quiet, the tears just running down my face in streams as I looked at her face, so beautiful in repose. I missed her strongly, and with everything I had, but right up until the funeral I could still hold her hand and touch her hair and kiss her cheek. I give her credit for my calm state, because it allowed me to give comfort to others in the way I know she would have done if she could. That state lasted until I walked in the front door of our home.

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Cancer Feelings: Gratitude

A few Thanksgivings ago, Julienne wrote this. It can be hard sometimes to find gratitude. I am still, and always will be, in awe of her strength. I love you and miss you every day, my love. I’m grateful for you.

whimsy and warpaint

Yes, I saved this post for Thanksgiving. I like to be seasonal, sue me.

Truth is, I’ve been struggling to write this post for a while now, mainly because this blog is largely comprised of snark, sarcasm and side eye, and I didn’t want you to worry that I’ve gone all Kumbaya on you. Also because the gratitude I feel is so profound that it’s hard to find the words. But I’m gonna try because it’s important to tell people that you appreciate them and again, I like to be seasonal.

Doctors, Nurses, and Medicine in General

I realize that for many of you, this section falls a little flat because most young people don’t have to worry about finding a doctor that does more than the standard “turn your head and cough” until they hit middle age. Before I was plunged headfirst into a health crisis, I had no idea about the…

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The Hospital, Part One

This is the fourteenth chapter of Love Song by Julienne (ft Cancer). The other ones are listed below.

Prologue – Julienne
Chapter 1 – Meeting Julienne
Chapter 2 – Finding Julienne
Chapter 3 – A Kiss, and a Confession
Chapter 4 – Of Spaniel Day Lewis, Parents, and Dothraki Love Nests
Chapter 5 – Brioche French Toast
Chapter 6 – Halloween with Becca
Chapter 7 – A Ring, and a Conversation
Chapter 8 – Her Woods
Chapter 9 – Christmas, and a Chase
Chapter 10 – Alantimes Day
Chapter 11 – A Dress and a Concert
Chapter 12 – Graduation (or, Freeeeddddoooommmm)

Chapter 13 – The Joy Before the Storm

Here we are. OK.

I start of a lot of these with these semi-parenthetical asides about how hard these are to do or start – sorry about that. Here’s another one. Sorry about that.

A lot of the time… well, most of the time, OK, I guess every time, I’m not exactly sure how to start writing these. I have things I know I want to talk about, but the way they are written is a surprise to me every time. Before I write them, I’ll read our old messages and look through pictures from the time to make sure I’m not forgetting anything. Then I just open up Word, start typing everything in a stream-consciousness style, take breaks when I get super emotional, then come back and continue. Then I read over it once for typos and clarity (such as it is), add pictures (sometimes I know which ones I want to use, sometimes they come to me when I’m typing), and schedule it (usually for 2 pm for some reason). That’s it.

I don’t ever know what’s going to come out. The Julienne post that started it all was like that. It went in a direction I never would have consciously chosen. I reread it last week and it’s so disjointed and confusingly written to me now, which makes sense because when I wrote it I was both disjointed and confused, not to mention distraught, bereaved, and broken. It hasn’t changed much since.

I don’t even know why I’m writing this, other than the fact it’s what my brain wants to say for some stupid reason. I’ll leave it in, even though any half-competent editor would remove it (although I lie to myself that a fully-competent editor would leave it in because it’s emotionally true, and half-competent editors are all hard at work at the latest celebrity ghost-written nonsense anyway, and it’s a lie that feels good to me so I’ll keep whispering it to myself). I think I’m writing this because what I’m going to try to write about makes me feel like a sculptor armed with a hammer and chisel staring at the cliffs of Dover and wondering how the fuck he’s going to carve out the thing he needs to without burying himself in an avalanche.

But I guess it’s like eating an elephant. One small bite at a time.

Fuck. OK.

***

In the days before the 17th of July in 2015, Julienne had been busy with more than engagement party planning and crafts and bar study. She was also wrestling with something very heavy and difficult. Something that bothered her was becoming very real and inching ever closer and she didn’t know what to do about it.

Leaving her family and moving to California.

Of course it was for her dream job, the thing she’d been actively planning her life around for years after she accepted that she would never be able to be a stage performer due to stage fright. It was why Julienne had gone to law school and gotten her double major. It was the reason for her internship. Being an agent for classical composers was the thing she burned to do. And in order to do it, she needed to go to L.A. It was the obvious choice.

Except.

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The Joy Before the Storm

This is the thirteenth chapter of Love Song by Julienne (ft Cancer). The other ones are listed below.

Prologue – Julienne

Chapter 1 – Meeting Julienne

Chapter 2 – Finding Julienne

Chapter 3 – A Kiss, and a Confession

Chapter 4 – Of Spaniel Day Lewis, Parents, and Dothraki Love Nests

Chapter 5 – Brioche French Toast

Chapter 6 – Halloween with Becca

Chapter 7 – A Ring, and a Conversation

Chapter 8 – Her Woods

Chapter 9 – Christmas, and a Chase

Chapter 10 – Alantimes Day

Chapter 11 – A Dress and a Concert

Chapter 12 – Graduation (or, Freeeeddddoooommmm)

I just want to begin by saying that this one has been a real challenge to start. Revisiting this time, a two-month span that felt like the beginning of something amazing and turned out to be just a pause before the start of the end, has been a real challenge. I think I’ve been holding off on writing it because this is the last one before the Rest Of It, when an uninvited guest would crash into our lives and slowly but relentlessly snuff out everything but the memories and the could-have-beens. We had about 68 days living together before it all changed. As of today, as I write this, she’s been gone 96 [and now that I’m finishing it, it’s been 99]. It’s all so incomprehensible to me.

***

On May 17th, 2015, Julienne, Lewis, and I pulled into the parking lot of what was finally, truly our apartment complex. She was free of Miami, of law school, of her master’s program, and now she could take a nice break from all of that.

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Lewis really made himself at home.

Just kidding. She had three days before her bar exam prep courses started.

Now, as a non-lawyer person (although when I first went to college, fifteen years before I actually graduated, I was pre-law and had every intention of becoming an attorney and politician, which is kind of mind-boggling to me now, honestly), I had only the vaguest notion of what the bar exam was like. I had done some prep for the CPA exam back before I realized that I wasn’t going to be allowed to take it (for needlessly complicated reasons that literally no one cares about or craves an explanation), and it was challenging, since like most students I forgot just about everything the moment I took my last final. So, in my mind, it was kind of like that. A lot of questions about things that you learned in school, to make sure you have a basic grasp of the job you’re looking to practice.

In fact, it is not like that.

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(Post) Cancer (Caregiver) Feelings: Grief, Part 1

This is part of the series of posts that Julienne began back when she was diagnosed. They’re on Julienne’s blog and linked below. The ones I have done are below as well.

Anger

Fear

Gratitude

Isolation

The Dark Side

Parting Wisdom

Nervous

Round 2

Positivity

Cancer (Caregiver) Feelings: Yin and Yang

(Post) Cancer (Caregiver) Feelings: Hope

Strap in. This isn’t pretty.

Grief.

It’s a little word that packs a lot into it. Loss. Sorrow. Pain, both physical and emotional. Longing. Loneliness. Honestly, Grief is just too big for a blog post, which is why I added the Part 1 part to the title. It’s sort of a joke, since I don’t plan on doing a second part, but it’s not a funny one because there is just too much to say about grief, even if I just focus on my own. So what’s the point, you could rightfully ask. I don’t know is my truthful answer. I guess I need to say some things about grief rather than have them rattling around my head like I rattle aimlessly around my empty house.

Here’s the fun thing about grief, which isn’t fun at all, it’s the tragedy of grief – here’s the tragic thing about grief: It’s different for everyone. That’s essentially the first thing you read or hear in any book or discussion about the process of grief. It’s different for everyone. The moment when that sunk in for me, days after I lost the light of the world and the main reason I woke up every day happy to be alive, I came to one very stark realization about what those words actually mean.

I am so fucked.

Everyone in grief is just plain fucked. Because it’s different for everyone means there is no template, no procedure, no standard of care that works. There are a lot of commonalities, but no overarching principles or guidelines to say this will help you. “Therapy”, of course, is helpful, but that’s like saying “medicine” is helpful to the sick. As an abstraction, they are both true. But what form of therapy is the right kind? What approach is best? What should the focus be? Well, it’s different for everyone.

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Graduation (or, Freeeeddddooommmm)

This is the twelfth chapter of Love Song by Julienne (ft Cancer). The other ones are listed below because I felt bad about being lazy last time.

Prologue – Julienne

Chapter 1 – Meeting Julienne

Chapter 2 – Finding Julienne

Chapter 3 – A Kiss, and a Confession

Chapter 4 – Of Spaniel Day Lewis, Parents, and Dothraki Love Nests

Chapter 5 – Brioche French Toast

Chapter 6 – Halloween with Becca

Chapter 7 – A Ring, and a Conversation

Chapter 8 – Her Woods

Chapter 9 – Christmas, and a Chase

Chapter 10 – Alantimes Day

Chapter 11 – A Dress and a Concert

So much for managing two posts a week. These are getting tougher, so I’ll shoot for one a week. Anything else will be a bonus. Thanks as always for reading. I love you (*finger guns*).

There is an interesting phenomenon that seems to lurk around any long-anticipated event, especially one that took a lot of work to bring together. There is this high during and after, especially if it is a rousing success. Then, unfortunately, there is a depression of sorts that sets in. This thing that was a labor of love is over and done, and the higher the high the lower the low. Julienne had a day to deal with both of those conflicting emotions. Then, sadly, she had to turn around and look at all the plates that were wobbling and slowing down as she’d kept the Frost Plays one spinning.

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Luckily she had Lewis to help her study.

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A Dress and a Concert

This is Chapter 11 of Love Song by Julienne (ft Cancer). I’m not going to link to the others because I’m lazy, and also because it’s getting long, so if this is your first time here you might want to look at the other ones. Also, I apologize for the increasing delay between entries. It’s getting a little harder as we go, emotionally, but I’m going to try to do two a week going forward. We’ll see how long that lasts! Thanks for your patience.

***

There is a face and a noise that Julienne makes when she is absolutely 109% happy about something. If you’ve ever witnessed it, you know exactly what I’m referring to. If not, I’ll have to try to explain it to you. First, the face. The eyes are wide and beam with happiness, and are usually looking to the left. Her eyebrows are lifted as high as they will go, and Julienne has a master’s eyebrow raise. Her chin is lifted, her neck extends, and there is a big, delightfully goofy smile on her face. Next is the noise. It is hard to describe. Sort of a “ngh”, or maybe an “umh”, but it is a short, low noise. It is a gesture without intention or artifice, completely instinctive and reactionary on her part. It is, without question, my favorite thing in the universe, because it means that she is at the very height of pleased, contented, perfect happiness.

I’m lucky to have seen it many times. Julienne loves and expresses joy better than anyone I’ve ever seen, and that look was only one that appeared when she had something she really, truly, unabashedly adored. It is different than her surprised happy face, different than her one-the-verge-of-tears happy face, different than her fists-in-the-air-teeth-clenched-happy-rage face. It fills me with joy every time I see it. Happily, I have pictures that capture the moment, and I can fill in the sound, which I do every time I see them. But more on that later.

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Alantimes Day

This is the tenth chapter of Love Song by Julienne (ft Cancer). The other ones are listed below if you haven’t read them yet and chronological continuity is your thing.

Prologue – Julienne

Chapter 1 – Meeting Julienne

Chapter 2 – Finding Julienne

Chapter 3 – A Kiss, and a Confession

Chapter 4 – Of Spaniel Day Lewis, Parents, and Dothraki Love Nests

Chapter 5 – Brioche French Toast

Chapter 6 – Halloween with Becca

Chapter 7 – A Ring, and a Conversation

Chapter 8 – Her Woods

Chapter 9 – Christmas, and a Chase

***

After our first race together, Julienne and I hurried back to the apartment, showered, scooped up Lewis, and headed to South Beach for a mini staycation. We got a hotel for the night and spent the day at the beach. That evening, Julienne wore the dress she’d gotten for our engagement photoshoot that she was still planning. There was a clock tower in Baltimore that she loved that was accessible from the inside, and it was a popular place for things of that nature. We were so giddy that day, just so happy to be together and in love. In the evening, we took a stroll on the beach and Julienne was so happy that she was literally leaping in the air. I had to get it on video so I made her do it again for me. It will always, to me, be the essence of Jules, so full of light and joy and exuberance.

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Christmas, and a Chase

This is the ninth chapter of Love Song by Julienne (ft Cancer). The other ones are below. I’ve added the post that I did after she passed as a sort of prologue. I may keep it that way, I may not.

Prologue – Julienne

Chapter 1 – Meeting Julienne

Chapter 2 – Finding Julienne

Chapter 3 – A Kiss, and a Confession

Chapter 4 – Of Spaniel Day Lewis, Parents, and Dothraki Love
Nests

Chapter 5 – Brioche French Toast

 Chapter 6 – Halloween with Becca

 Chapter 7 – A Ring, and a Conversation

Chapter 8 – Her Woods

Sorry for the delay between chapters. After my last post about Hope (or the lack thereof), I fell into a weird state of disconnection from my emotions. It was as if writing it overloaded my emotional center, or it released something that had been swirling in my mind for so long that I was left as a drained, empty husk. It’s probably a little bit of both of those things. Or a lot of both. Either way, being in a state where I felt nothing has been alarming and uncomfortable and I hate it. I decided to make myself research and write this to reconnect to my feelings, even if it hurts, rather than drifting along in a near-fugue state that makes me feel like an automaton. I hope it works. We’ll find out.

***

Christmas with the Gedes in 2014 formed the tradition we would continue for each of the five years Julienne and I were together. After we celebrated our engagement Christmas Eve night, giddily checking our Facebook posts for congratulatory comments from friends and reveling in the fact that it was finally public, we settled in to celebrate the holiday old-school style. We snuggled into her old bed, Lewis curled up with us, and read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Incredibly, I’d never actually read the story before, and like so many things – from gingerbread houses to Muppet Christmas Carol to homemade egg nog (Sharon’s egg nog is the best drink the world has ever and will ever produce) – experiencing for the first time with Jules made it so much more special. It was the first time I read aloud to her. Reading to Julienne, feeling her snuggled up next to me listening, her head on my shoulder, was (and still is) one of the most comforting and loving moments we ever experienced.

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(Post) Cancer (Caregiver) Feelings: Hope

This is not going to be a happy, uplifting, or fun thing to read. This is not part of the ongoing story of our love. The next chapter of that will be out next week, once I can make myself write it. Before I can do that, though, I need to write about this, like leeching some poison from my blood or letting off enough steam before the pressure builds too much. I just want you to know what you’re getting into. This is very likely to be a dark and disheartening look at grief and loss.

I wrote once before about my feelings on this cancer journey. I wrote it in May, 2 months before she would be placed on oxygen and we were given the news about how much time we had left together. These Cancer Feelings posts were a very big part of Julienne’s blog. She wrote well and beautifully about her emotions throughout her treatment. I’ll link them below if you’d like to visit them. They are worth it.

Anger

Fear

Gratitude

Isolation

The Dark Side

Parting Wisdom

Nervous

Round 2

Positivity

I didn’t plan on doing another one of these, but here we are. I’m going to talk about something that was important to us both.

Hope.

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