Susan has never seen Breakfast at Tiffany's so imagine her surprise when she sat down to watch this beloved classic and discovered it to be a horrible waste of her time. 
Holly Golightly is intolerable and everyone else is insipid.
What an awful movie.


On Day 28 Susan pinched this from the awesome Nick Holmes.


Susan cried into Cousin Lisa's stuffing on Thanksgiving.
It wasn't just Lisa's recipe recreated for Thanksgiving, it was actual stuffing made by her own formerly alive hands.
At first Susan didn't understand, she just thought it was stuffing. But when Cousin Danielle hipped Susan to the deal, she felt stunned.
Stunned by Sausage Stuffing!
Susan filled her Thanksgiving plate with food and nestled Cousin Lisa's stuffing next to her daughter Danielle's orzo with spinach. Susan took a seat on the staircase and ate her food. She didn't intend to cry, but she's not in control of these things and began almost immediately, until tears were rolling down her cheeks. Eventually she was found out, knocked off the crying and resumed the enjoyment of her Thanksgiving.


Happy Thanksgiving, Guys!

'I always give my bird a generous butter massage before I put it in the oven. Why? Because I think the chicken likes it and, more important, because I like to give it.'
-Julia Child


Susan is determined to use up that bottle of maple whiskey so that she never has to encounter it again. She dumped two cups of it into apple cider then threw in star anise, ginger and cinnamon. Stay tuned to find out what her fellow Thanksgiving revelers will have to say about it.
Disclaimer: This is not Susan's photo, she pinched it from here.


Susan's elderly car is making a funny noise. Sort of like a whistle, if that whistle was screaming while it wheezed.
Screams and wheezes don't even go together, but that's what it sounds like.

Nothing bad can happen to this car.

You may recall that Susan & the husband shared one car for almost two years. This translated to Susan being driven to work & then picked up from work EVERY DAY for TWO YEARS.

It took her more than six months just to pound into the husband's thick skull that she required silence during her morning commute; there was to be no commentary or stories about the old neighborhood or business conversations on the phone, in which he engaged unceasingly anyway.

Even now that he's gone, Susan never thinks Oh, if only I could have one of those miserable drives to work with him again...

Anyway, after a pretty lengthy search Susan saw an ad for her elderly car and dispatched the husband to check it out in person. On a bitter snowy day two years ago they purchased it and Susan regained her independence. This car was the result of her blood and pain. Well, not really, but it was made possible by a combined effort, and she still feels linked to the husband through it.

Nothing bad can happen to this car.


Susan is out of ideas for her enforced daily BLAHg post.
Forgive her.
Day 23 is bogus.


Bathtub Drain, Two Ways

Susan asked her son to remove some hair that had collected in the grate covering the drain in the bathtub then watched in horror as he took the hair, threw it into the toilet and flushed it away.
At the very end of Susan's shower she noticed she was standing in a half inch of water. She took her foot and played with the lever. Nothing happened. 
She got out and plunged until she was sweaty and wracked with old age pains. Nothing happened.
She asked her son to plunge. Nothing.
She went out with her little sister and returned with Drano & a snake which her son took and went to investigate. A few minutes later he emerged and asked if Susan had been messing with the lever. 
She sealed the drain opening when she flipped the lever the wrong way.


Susan spent a crisp Saturday on a walking tour of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery with her little sister and two nieces.

Susan's a sucker for a good cemetery and this one's on the National Register of Historic Places, plus it's right in Headless Horseman territory. It's got a lot of famous and infamous residents, folks like Leona & Harry Helmsley, Washington Irving, William Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, William Chrysler, Brooke & Vincent Astor, as well as the dude who wrote Yes Virginia There Is A Santa Claus.

After the two hour walk Susan needed a cocktail, then a nap.

Susan's fave, the final resting place of The Queen of Mean
A peek inside, nice right?


Susan is too disinterested to BLAHg.

She has buyer's remorse after spending $43 on a bottle of maple whiskey. She wouldn't have minded the expense if she liked maple whiskey, but she had to spend that amount to discover that she didn't.

Hope y'all liked Day 20.


Susan is roasting asparagus for Acme Heaven Sent's Thanksgiving lunch tomorrow. She roasted them in batches, making the first over-done and limp then each subsequent batch a little less so.
She envisions treating her coworkers to asparagus gruel after an hour of sitting over a sterno.
Susan also made the apple cider punch undrinkable with a heavy handed addition of cayenne. But, not to worry because she managed to pour half of it all over her kitchen counter.


Susan promised everyone a normal topic for Day 18 and here it is; Eggplant Pizzas!
This is the sort of thing that Susan would never think up on her own because she's got an inside-the-box brain. Her aubergine averse kids might even eat these although nowadays Susan doesn't care if they eat what she makes.

There you have it, all Susan's years of maternal effort have brought her to this point; she doesn't care.


That wasn't Susan's husband yesterday, she's got more than one dead guy making her sad. That was Jeff, her daughter's former figure drawing teacher, although this description of the relationship is very inadequate. Suffice it to say that Jeff was important to Susan's family and also had the distinction of having the best, most entertaining wake.


Susan's husband died two weeks after Jeff, so she still has that jubilee looming on the horizon, but first she'll have to endure Cousin Lisa's birthday, the day before. Susan made it through 54 years intact, there were losses, but they belonged to other folks. This double whammy is hers.

Anway, Susan's gonna give you all a break tomorrow & BLAHg about normal stuff.


Susan is sad today.
She'll be better tomorrow.


Susan cleaned three rooms of her house for company Saturday night; the bathroom, livingroom & kitchen. Oh, and she made her bed. The dining room was kept dark to conceal that she prefers to keep her table piled high with household debris.
Susan had some pears which she wanted to incorporate into a cocktail. Last year her friend Anna served her a lovely concoction of pear puree, pear vodka & lemon juice. Susan pureed the pears & added vodka. She didn't have any citrus, so Italian grapefruit soda was a surprisingly tart substitute topped by seltzer and lots of ice.
Presto! Susan is a genius.
Susan's company arrived, they threw a Duraflame log in the fireplace and had a terrific three hour chat.


A symptom of Susan's grief is revealing itself to be anxiety.
She's afraid to do time sensitive things, so she procrastinates until they cause a problem.
She's afraid to open her e-mail even though there's nothing scary in there.
She's afraid to mail her amended tax form even though she's due some money.

Susan and anxiety go way back to when she was little. Then during both her pregnancies she had panic attacks, those things were mind blowing. A dead husband's got nothing on panic attacks.

The panic attacks were special, they came in the sunshine of her happy life, taught her some stuff and haven't been back since. They also changed Susan's relationship with anxiety; it's cautiously cooperative, she gets ready when she knows it's coming, and it always comes to tell her something.

Susan sees the pattern in the things she's afraid of lately.


Susan had two extreme soup experiences today.

At lunchtime she ordered seafood soup from the local Chinese food place. There was no description on the take-out menu, just seafood soup offered in a quart size for $6.99. Susan envisioned a steamy broth with shrimp and scallions, maybe some vegetables.

What it arrived it more closely resembled a container of goopy lobster sauce with pink imitation crabmeat sliced into rings. The sight of it disgusted Susan. She reluctantly ladled a small amount into a bowl, tasted it then chucked the whole jizzy mess into the trash.

She just tipped a dude to deliver food that she took from him and threw out.

When Susan got home she was hungry from having no lunch and immediately took her daughter out to eat. They entire dinner was most unremarkable except for the spicy miso seafood soup; a heavenly bowl of smoky broth that made Susan woozy and silly.

This notwithstanding, Susan spent money all day long on meals she didn't care for, she's got to start cooking again.


Susan has been watching BBC and has learned a lick of slang:
Bob's your uncle = added at the end of a sentence, such as after some instructions, to mean there you have it, or that's it!
Bollocks = no good
Bugger all = you have nothing
A do = a party
Duffer = a useless person
Knob = penis
Owt = anything
Pillock = stupid person
Shite = shit
Summat = something
Tosser = jerk


Susan agrees that she cheated everyone out of a legit BLAHg post yesterday, however this is no reflection on the cartooning charms of Roz Chast. Susan recently read Roz's graphic novel about running back & forth to take care of her extremely elderly parents Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant and found it entertainingly horrifying.
Susan's own laziness, fatigue and lack of imagination gave a whiff of illegitimacy to Day 10 and now hopes no one notices that Day 11 only has three sentences.


Susan has left herself mere minutes to complete her obligatory BLAHg post before the clock strikes midnight.

Once again a cartoon, this one by Roz Chast:


While loading groceries into the fridge Susan found a forgotten head of cauliflower way in the back. Susan doesn't have one of those big fridges where everything is up at eye level, she's got the old-school-white-freezer-up-top-type requiring her to bend way down to see what's in there.
Anyway, as she retrieved the cauliflower & backed out of the fridge she banged the top of her head on the bottom of the freezer and went insane.
She immediately began beating the Dickens out of the fridge with the cauliflower while cursing
f*ck you m*therf*cking c*ck s*cking f*cker! and spitting all over everything, even herself.
The half dead cauliflower was no match for one crazy assh*le & a fridge so it quickly disintegrated all over the floor where she just left it.
Strangely, Susan was actually mad at the cauliflower but not the fridge.


Here's a New Yorker cartoon in lieu of a BLAHg post:
Susan does not care for The New Yorker beyond their cartoons, so don't go thinking she's all highbrow and everything.


Susan got up, made herself a cup of coffee and started her Saturday morning cleaning during which she removed the garbage can from underneath the sink and left it out to be emptied when she got around to it.

The garbage cans in her house are always filled to capacity because neither of her children will dump them unless they are asked to, or unless Susan does it herself. They will comply, often making her wait until after they complete whatever they claim to be doing so that they don't have to jump up and do it right then. She has been known to ask them three or four more times with lessening degrees of patience.

Kids. Whaddya gonna do (about them).
Ed. note: To be read rhetorically.

Susan went on to do something else, possibly to crawl back into bed and watch an episode of Last Tango In Halifax, and left the garbage can in the middle of the kitchen floor with trash bag filled with garbage still inside.

Later when Susan emerged to continue her June-Cleaver-ing she noticed there was something a little off in the kitchen. Everything looked fine, but she felt something was different.

The garbage!
It had been dumped, a new bag put in, and then returned to its place under the sink. One of her children had done this without being asked, which is something that has NEVER happened in the eleven years they have lived in the house.

Susan never imagined this would turn out to be such an auspicious day.


Susan was invited to her pal Sharon's house for homemade broccoli cheese soup in bread bowls which Susan regards as the perfect coupling of two marvelous things to eat.

After dinner Susan made Hasselback baked apples, also very well received and a total cinch.

Day six is in the books.


November 5th is the day last year that changed Susan's life.

It's the day she sat with the husband in Sloane Kettering for seven hours drinking coffee from their fancy machine that grinds the beans for each cup & reading their brand new magazines.

It's the day that offered her no protection, the one she didn't see coming.

They would return a few times more, and each time the news would be worse, but by then Susan had an idea of what to expect. Last November 5th she was completely unprepared.

It's also the day that everything unimportant fell away leaving only love.


Susan's never met a pasta salad that she really liked. It should be something that's easy to like; macaroni, chopped up stuff and sauce, but the proper combination has always been elusive.

Cousin Caroline hosted a little get together at her house a few weeks ago and when Susan saw the pasta salad she thought ho-hum but dumped some on a plate and ate it anyway.
Strangely, she liked it.
When Susan replicated it at home fifty percent of her kids liked it too. She can further report that leaving it in the fridge for almost a week had no ill effect on either the flavor or consistency.

For day four Susan is presenting COUSIN CAROLINE'S PESTO PASTA SALAD:

6 ounces jarred pesto + 1 cup mayo whisked together
pasta of your choosing
14 ounces drained & quartered artichoke hearts, in water or marinated, whatever
8 or 9 sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 cup frozen peas, not frozen is also an option
sliced black olives
chicken, cubed or shredded

Dance this mess around then buon appetito.


Day three of NaBloPoMo and Susan has zero material. This being established Susan is prepared to offer one sentence as her BLAHg post:

There is a tremendous amount of leftover Halloween candy at Acme Heaven Sent, like five plastic pumpkins full just lying around for everyone to eat as they walk by.
It's a problem.

NaBloPoMo, quality sacrificed for quantity.


A few weeks back Susan had a delightful time with a mob of people all fifteen years her junior or worse. One of the highlights of that evening were the two cider cocktails she drank.

Of course two cocktails are a very unremarkable number, but for our elderly heroine they represented a continued time commitment, meaning she was gonna be hanging out with the kids a while.

Ultimately she joined them as they went from the first location to the second, then declined the third but appreciated the invitation.

The cocktail had been haunting her dreams ever since, it was liquor-y, tart & a little sweet from maple bourbon, pear vodka & apple cider.

On Sunday she paired some Maker's Mark with cider and maple syrup, the real stuff not Mrs. Butterworth's. The maple syrup added a smoky element which she liked, so she pushed the cocktail further into that direction with a pinch of smoked hot paprika. She squeezed half a lime for tartness, and because she puts lime juice into all her cocktails whether they need it or not.


It's earned a place in the little notebook of home cocktails Susan keeps. It just needs a name.


Many of Susan's bloggy pals know that her awesome BLAHging talents extend all the way back to 2009. Probably no one realizes that every November she signs up for National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo) and commits to writing a post a day for 30 days. She likes to reward her modest fan base for their support by boring them every day with an insufficient effort just to maintain the criteria of a personal challenge.

Susan hasn't been posting as frequently as in previous years because she hit the jackpot when her husband got sick and died in two months then her best friend died three months later. Has she mentioned this already?

She's still got lots of people she loves and when you get down to it every one of them is her favorite although some are more favorite than others.
And some are less.

But for the record, Cousin Lisa was her supreme, tip-top Favorite of the Favorites. This distinction was so well known that Susan's husband and brother in law would poke fun whenever Susan and Cousin Lisa would get together;
'Oh, let's drop everything because Cousin Lisa is coming over!' they would say in a slightly snooty accent, emphasizing Cousin Lisa in a higher pitch. Sometimes they would reduce their commentary to just a high pitched Cousin Lisa!  
This always made Susan laugh.

Anyway, enough crying over the laptop for one day. In an effort to get back to blogging normalcy Susan is going to be writing a post a day for the month of November, which is also the month in which Susan's husband rapidly deteriorated. So, screw your courage to the sticking place because this may be a recurring topic. But, as Susan always sez, this is her BLAHg and she'll do what she wants.

NaBloPoMo day one, done.


Susan effectively avoided small children in Halloween costumes all day, she's got nothing against them, she just wasn't in the mood. She's never in the mood to get up and answer the door all day long while the dog goes batsh*t.

She predicts she won't be in the mood for it next year either.

Susan put her Halloween to good use by getting her hair dyed back to its original color. She was so overdue for a cut & color she started to look like the dude from Rocky Horror.

This one:
Susan would also like to say goodbye to daylight savings time & hopes everyone enjoyed their theoretical extra hour of sleep.


Earlier last week Susan, her two kids, little sister & brother in law attended a memorial put together by the hospice located on the grounds of the little caring hospital for all of the families whose loved ones had passed through that way.

Wow, that was a long sentence.

Anyway, Susan regularly receives their invitations to bereavement support services and events but this is the first time she has taken them up on anything. The memorial was to be held in the hospital's chapel and she was particularly attracted to the option of being able to share 'memories, a poem or a prayer' meaning she would have a captive audience and a microphone.

Susan thought she might like to read the poem her pal Mikel had sent her, one which helped in the early days, and something she still re-reads. There were one or two points within the poem that she didn't specifically agree with, like 'loving being a matter of eternity more than of time', but the rest of it was pretty on target. Susan's big with sharing things that help her ease the burdens of life, whether inspiring others to see the up-side of grief or to wage a deadly battle against ants in the kitchen with a DIY killer (Borax + honey).

The more she thought about it the more Susan realized that she preferred to use the opportunity to tell people about the husband. This was not going to be an improv situation, she would write everything down. She searched her little toy brain for a good story but came up empty. Her brain has not been particularly strong this last year, which she worries may be the coincidentally timed emergence of dementia, but she set aside that possibility and consulted her alter-memory, the archives of Twisted Susan. Very quickly she found this post then adapted it to her current need.

On the way there Susan was looking forward to being back where the husband was so well cared for, but the daughter was not happy as they walked past the hospice where her father died. She removed her mother's arm from around her shoulder and growled like a little broken hearted cub. Once inside she perked up when she saw her aunt & uncle.

Mercifully it was an Inter-Denominational Celebration of Life and not a Catholic service. The program began with a welcoming blessing & candle lighting then a musical interlude by the most adorable acapella chorus of white haired men ever to belt out a churchy song. After this was the celebration of life part where each person who requested to speak was called up to the altar.
The participants were all sad, a few cried, some went against Susan's personal code and winged it, best was the young girl who read a poem about her grandmother. After taking a long walk up the center aisle with all eyes upon her, she stared straight ahead and very clearly read her poem in front of what were probably 200 people, then took that same brave walk all the way back to her seat. She did a nice job.

Shortly thereafter Susan's name was called.

Sidebar: Susan's son, who was arriving separately, was still not there. (Insert angry mommy Grrrr sound). There will undoubtedly be a meeting with him on this topic later.

Susan and her prepared statement took their place at the front of the room. She looked briefly at the group, announced that she was nervous then in a slightly breaking voice said she's been without her husband for 323 days, that's 44 weeks, and would like to read them a list of things that she liked about him:

  • He was impressive with a yo-yo
  • Describing the birth of his son he said 'I never knew how exhausting it was to yell at someone for four hours'
  • He sang, poorly
  • He was very adept at winning arguments, but took it easy on Susan
  • He ran around in the yard with the kids and the dog
  • He could always be counted on to complete any disagreeable task
  • He told funny stories from his youth about drunkenness & neighborhood brawling
  • He apologized by saying 'I've decided to forgive you'
  • He didn't build himself up by making others feel small
  • If he didn't know something, he knew a guy who knew 
  • He said that being mad at Susan was like being mad at a puppy (got a big Awwww from the crowd)
  • He didn't worry about things he couldn't control
  • He did the Lindy at weddings & grabbed anyone in his path
  • Before he was married to Susan he raised two smart, independent, caring & wonderful girls that have always been terrific big sisters to their two kids
  • He would say 'It's better to seek forgiveness than permission'
  • 'Thanksgiving is not a low-fat holiday'
  • When arguing he'd say 'Don't cloud the issue with facts'
  • About making decisions; 'The situation is the boss'
  • Upon doing something for him he'd say 'Who's better than you?'
  • About money he said a few things; 'I can owe it to you or you can forget about it'                        Expenses related to mistakes were called the 'stupidity tax' and 'All financial crises only last for 48 hours'
  • 'Success is 90% showing up, 9% listening & 1% dumb luck'
  • 'Tough times don't last, tough people do'
  • Lastly, his favorite was always; 'Analyze, Adapt, Overcome'
The crowd had been chuckling all along but Susan was surprised as hell when everyone applauded, little sister said it wasn't even she who started it. 

The husband could still make people laugh.

Susan's son showed up during the Reading of Names; each loved one's name was read as their family members walked up front to hang a sparkly cardboard dove on a tree. Some folks had two entire rows of people in attendance, others only one or two or three. This is where Susan got a good look at how bereaved people were. Many were grim faced. She felt particularly sad for the older folks, grief had really roughed them up. 

Let's fast forward to the balance of the night highlights:
Susan's daughter hung their sparkly dove on the highest branch, the old man acapella chorus came back to cheer everyone up, Susan & her family went out for BLTs and milk shakes.


Susan felt like a pathetic wretch of a widow today.

It started when she lost the annual competition she has with herself and turned on the heat. Shivering in her lonely bed all night weakened her resolve. She hit bottom five seconds into the new day and copped some warm thermometer action.

At work she was unfocused and tired, she kept her coat on most of the day, she forgot where she put things, she went downstairs to deliver an envelope then came back upstairs still holding it.

She's preoccupied by her son's collection of points on his recently established driver license & the impact on her insurance, by the letter he received about his college financial aid, and by his inclination to act like a nineteen year old jerk. The husband would have been a big help with the financial aid stuff because he was smart like that. Instead Susan is left to figure out how she's even old enough to have a nineteen year old jerk for a kid.

In the evening the seventeen year old daughter had a college fair to attend. She and Susan walked around not sure what to ask. Susan's brilliant solution was 'We're not sure what to ask, what can you tell us' and little by little they got the idea. It was nice to watch the daughter gain confidence with every conversation. Susan was happy about that but was still overwhelmingly sad because this situation was exactly what the husband was good at; talking to people, getting information and understanding the between the lines stuff.

The 45 minute financial aid workshop knocked Susan out, at the end Susan spoke to the instructor privately about her son's situation then couldn't wait to go home and cry.

She suspects that she may be over reacting so she's going to pull the plug on today, get a good night's sleep & hope that tomorrow will be better.


Susan Has A Cold

Monday she had a funny feeling in her ears
Tuesday her eyeballs itched
Wednesday she started sneezing
Thursday her boss told her to go home
Friday she stayed in bed.
Saturday her head hurt down to her teeth
Sunday she lost two of her senses
Monday her boss sent her home again, so
she went to the doctor.

Susan has a cold.


Ten Months

In the beginning Susan felt scared when she cried, she didn't know how deep the pit was. After a while she saw that she could withstand it, she could walk around in the middle of it and not be swallowed up.

Susan gets shanked by grief. It's always something simple, a song lyric, a line in a movie, a tiny unpredictable thing that triggers a very acute, stabbing memory. She never knows when it will happen. Everything could be going along great, then it flips, and the full understanding of her loss hits her in the heart.

The husband showed her that it was possible for someone to see her at her worst, at her most criminally insane and still love her. Year after year.

Susan doesn't shy away from the hurt, and yet she still doesn't think that she hurts enough.


Effective immediately let's all make a solemn oath to each other and stop using these word pairings, ok?

  • comfort zone
  • spot on
  • good bones
  • old soul
  • bring it
  • forever home
  • soul mate
  • heart strings
  • bucket list


Susan and the husband would have been married twenty one years today. Instead, Susan has been without him for 291 days.

Wasn't it just recently she was worried about having enough money to pay for the wedding? She remembers very clearly a conversation she had with him on this topic in which he assured her that they would. They picked a nice place and then did away everything extraneous after the food & a full bar. Susan's dress was hand made by her seamstress-landlady. She went to the local florist & said 'I'm getting married tomorrow, what can you do for a bouquet?'  Susan potted winter pansies for the centerpieces and chose an assortment of handmade chocolates as her favors. Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra & Etta James all sang through little sister's CD changer. Everyone invited showed up.

They were married for twenty years and 76 days.

Susan is going to commemorate her first solitary anniversary with a tattoo in the husband's handwriting. She's not a tattoo person & he had terrible handwriting, so it's a big deal for her. She's hoping she won't pass out in the chair or anything.

*Ed. Note: If you are interested in travelling back in time to read what Susan wrote about her formerly alive husband on their anniversary, just click on that little purple Anniversary.


A year ago Susan would find the Sunday papers waiting for her on the dining room table, maybe with a bag of bagels sitting on top of them. The husband was always up & out early then come home with the papers; the highbrow NY Times & lowbrow Post. It was a simple detail of her life that made her happy.

She could never get far before the husband interrupted her with conversation. She'd put her finger on the last word she read, stare at him until he stopped talking, then go back to reading. Every Sunday for 20 years.

Susan's 21st anniversary is this week.

The husband's giant cutting board sits on a shelf in the kitchen. It got used every night. He'd grill a steak or pork chops or chicken, then slice and serve it from the cutting board. Every night.

What does she do without all the little things that used to be her life? Some get filled with other stuff but mostly an absence exists.  Thinking about it makes her cry, which uses up some time. She never stops her tears except for necessity or if it's like enough already.

The other day she found a collection of things she wrote to the husband long ago; poems, little notes, pictures she drew. She started reading but it was too much. She kept two and threw the rest out. They weren't for anyone else to see, just him.

Susan writes Twisted Susan for herself but invites all her bloggy pals to read along, she invites you all into her brain. That's a pretty intimate invitation.
100% guaranteed no bullsh*t.

If Susan was a downer today, too bad.


Man On Wire

Man On Wire is on Netflix, treat yourself and watch it.


Susan is not a lover of the outdoors unless seated on a comfortable chair in a shady yard with a plate of cookies on her lap.

With limited enthusiasm Susan has been known to plant a thing or two, but that's the end of it. There is no further interaction of any sort unless she clips a hydrangea to shove in a glass of water. There is definitely no maintenance, or any proximity to dirt or bugs, neither does she hang around in her front yard long enough for Mr. or Mrs. Drunk to catch a glimpse of her and come over for a chat.

This weekend Susan combined all these avoided actions and set upon the distasteful task of weeding her front yard. Since the untimely demise of her beloved husband the outside has started to look like The Muster's house, minus the impressive Victorian exterior.
The husband would do all her grunt work. By his side she was more inclined to make a teeny effort, or at least sit on the front steps and conversate while he toiled on her projects.

You know the joint must be in really rough shape for Susan to willingly engage in physical labor, particularly the bending over variety. Susan has a keen hatred for bending over, one she has proclaimed far and wide. And loudly.
Weeding seems to have been invented for this miserable position.

Susan's son employed his super human wrestler's strength to yank out a few trees that did not exist six months prior then transported all her weedy debris to the neglected compost bin. The husband used to take care of the composting responsibilities for her too.

Jeez, did she do anything?

At the end of the day the yard look improved but at the cost of Susan's elderly back, so she crawled to her bed & took a nap.


Earlier this summer Susan spent a long weekend at the beach.
How wonderful! you say.
Everyone loves the beach! you say.
Susan loves the beach too, but she hates the sun.
The sun can burn out of the sky for all she cares.

Susan's boss at Acme Heaven Sent generously took eighteen of her coworkers to Fire Island. As soon as they hit the ferry Susan's work pals all started shedding their outer layers, turning their faces to the sun and making sounds of profound satisfaction. Susan covered herself up entirely, pulled her long sleeves down over her fingers and accepted the loaner of a ball cap even though it made her look like a dude.

Once there Susan unpacked the essentials needed for a weekend away with grown-ups; alcohol, Tums, Advil, bandages, sunscreen & incense. They would all be used. After a full evening of drinking, laughing and eating the group all collapsed into whatever predetermined situation they would be sleeping; girls with girls, boys with boys, a few of them snoring into the wee hours.

The next morning breakfast was hosted in the courtyard, Susan stepped into the sun and felt as if she would burst into flame. Her work pals were very obliging with giving up their shady seats, it appears that very few people visit Fire Island in order to sit in the shade.

Sidebar: Susan foolishly drank up her daily quota of alcohol in Mimosas.

When everyone started heading to the beach Susan panicked at the thought of being trapped in a sunny horror until hipped by two of her fair-skinned work sisters that beach umbrellas were available. In fact, Susan had but to point and grunt, the umbrella would be delivered & positioned for her.

A beach umbrella was all that was needed to restore Susan's mental health & make her world happy.

The day wore on in a most congenial manner, the work pals all enjoying each other's company, but there was also a darkness brewing...

Any break in Susan's regular diet often results in digestive upset, and little by little a gassy wickedness was taking form in Susan's delicate tummy. Instead of dispersing, it was building up making Susan expand like a balloon.

Susan was carrying a gas baby.

She tried to abort her gas baby with a handful of Tums. The gas baby just laughed and kicked.
Many suggestions were given but none proved the least bit useful in diffusing the gas baby. Sipping hot water alleviated some of the discomfort allowing Susan to keep from retiring early, which would be her usual remedy. So, Susan stayed up late talking sh*t, playing games, commiserating over a nearly decapitated Big Toe, sipping hot water & joining a search party to locate the drunkest member of her group.

In the morning the toe was still attached, the missing member was back & the gas baby was gone.

Susan is tired right now, so this will suffice as The End.


The other night Susan thought she saw Cousin Lisa.
It took about two seconds, if even that long, to realize it wasn't her. And then to remember why it wasn't her.

In those two seconds an entire universe of happiness was created.
Then it evaporated.
Susan wasn't even sad, she accepted the evaporation and went on with her evening without missing a beat. But for two seconds she was cartwheeling through a field of daisies, or maybe lavender, as she though she was about to encounter her favorite person.

Susan reflected on this for days; the split-second delight she felt when her brain allowed her to forget before it made her remember. How it didn't bother her then, but it bothers her now. How she doesn't even know if she's grieving effectively.

Susan had a good cry over all this sh*t.


Susan took mass transit all the way down to Coney Island, USA to stand in the rain and watch the Mermaid Parade.

Weeks ago Susan innocently said yes when the daughter asked if they could go, then immediately regretted it. Susan is not a fan of crowds, heat, no place to pee & limited escape routes. The closer the date of departure came, the more Susan dreaded her poorly thought out commitment. How could she deny her fatherless daughter the joy of seeing gay men and half naked women strut their painted and sequined stuff?

She couldn't, that's how.

Mercifully, Susan's Little Sister agreed to go which afforded Susan some level of comfort. She now had someone onto whom she could pawn off the transportational logistics.

That morning Susan packed her bag with sunscreen, Advil, baby wipes, black bean brownies and cash. She wisely chose her outfit; layers on top, although ultimately too few to keep her warm after being rained on & white shorts onto which she would later drop a calamari hot dog.

Coney Island was the last stop on the Q train and pulled in high above the park. Susan felt like Dorothy first glimpsing the Emerald City when she saw the Wonder Wheel and beyond that the Atlantic Ocean. It was quite a sight.

Twelve inch platform shoes, three foot wide headgear, bejeweled eyelashes, and head to toe body paint was in evidence as soon as they hit the street:
Susan was delighted to see the ridiculous amount of creativity and dedication that went into all the costumes. They were home made with odds and ends, bound together with glitter, fishnets, shells, pearls, streamers, feathers, leather straps, topped with balloons and finished off with pasties.
Like this:

Susan liked the full body commitment of this fellow:
Pirates, sharks and paper mache were also represented:
Most of all Susan was happy to see all the unrestrained boobs, jiggly bellies, plump round asses and rolls of fat that every woman over the age of 25 has.

Hooray for mermaids and real ladies everywhere!

*Susan would like to give artistic credit to her Little Sister, the professional photographer, for allowing Susan to pinch these photos from her FB page.


Susan can't BLAHg late at night because there's little quality control after 1 am, plus she just has to rewrite everything the next day. Even when she's done a good job on her modest assemblage of paragraphs and sends them out into the world, she still sneaks back to edit.

Lately Susan's BLAHging talents have gotten a little stuck. When the self revelatory brilliance she's composing is still a muddle of crap after three weeks she just chucks it. Same with anything that may inspire even a single person to feel sorry for her. There's no reason for feel sorry for Susan except when she has to sit through Super Troopers on Family Movie Night.

Double grieving has taken the fear out of a few things. For example, at work our favorite claustrophobic has taken to hopping on the dreaded elevator just for the hell of it. Sometimes twice a day. She even crawled underneath the deck at home to retrieve some flattened milk containers which had flung themselves out of the recycling bin. This behavior is quite unusual for her.

Susan's almost at the six month mark.

In the early days of her grief she cycled through misery followed by recovery then normalcy.

Misery recovery normalcy misery recovery normalcy.

Once again she's back to being pretty stable although she cries every day. Quick bursts, multiple times, then she's done until the next time. Which could be two minutes later. Susan doesn't avoid her grief, she tells herself
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
It's been working.


Susan had a good Mother's Day.

It started on Saturday when she got up early and cleaned a portion of the house like she used to do.

On Sunday she made breakfast for her kids since they're the reason she's a mom, plus she's been kinda out of practice with the maternal stuff lately. However, before breakfast hit the table they surprised her with presents! This was the first time Susan's children have ever given her Mother's Day gifts outside of enforced grade school projects.

Susan's daughter made her a large glazed clay pot perfect for growing summer herbs on the front steps. Susan's son presented her with a jaunty beach bag into which he deposited a second gift; a beaded necklace in her favorite color.


Afterward they all drove out to Cousin Greg's for a family barbecue that he and Cousin Lisa had always hosted and which he wanted to continue. Susan cried quietly on the drive out there hoping her kids wouldn't notice and then try to make her stop. Even though she appreciates that her son has some silly methods of halting Susan's crying she prefers it to start and stop on its own.

Susan was happy to see that Cousin Greg had made some changes with color and furniture arrangement. In the kitchen she noticed Cousin Lisa's handwriting on the tupperware labeled basil pesto.

She didn't cry when she saw it, but later when she thought of it.

Aunt Eileen gave Susan a little motorized light up fan for her hot flashes and Cousin Jeanette gave all the moms fragrant lavender plants for relaxation.  Susan had a real good afternoon, ate as much guacamole as she wanted and refilled her glass with sangria as often as she wanted relaxing her rule regarding slightly slurred speech.


Susan has switched her clothing from the boots and sweaters of a seemingly endless ice age to the flats and skirts of a budding spring. A portion of her well worn closet ended up getting tossed into the donation bag, or directly into the garbage.

After work one day she walked around a local department store picking out some clothes. Susan went to the dressing room where she hung her selections on the hook and started getting undressed. First she removed her necklace; a long gold chain holding the husband's wedding band. She doesn't wear it all the time, only when she has the proper neckline, otherwise it sits in a small ceramic dish next to his picture on her dresser. Her little altar

Susan has looked tired since the husband died, plus the end of the day was not her most attractive hour. She tried everything on, then rejected it all. Enough with clothes, she would go look at jewelry.

Susan walked around and touched everything. She ultimately fell in love with a gigantic blue beaded monstrosity of a necklace. She took it off from around her neck and headed toward the cashier when she realized she was not wearing the husband's ring.

Gasp! She had left her precious relic in the dressing room!

She did not panic, but walked with singular focus toward that destination. En route she contemplated how she would react if it was not there. Would she just suck it up like an extreme grown-up or would she hate herself forever like the total asshole she was?

Mercifully, her question would not have to be answered that day.


Susan personally witnessed Spring busting out all over the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens on Sunday!
She saw fields of daffodils, forsythia, plump and perfumed magnolias, Japanese flowering cherry trees and all manner of little green buds awaiting their turn to pop open and make a spectacle of themselves.
She even saw a bride or two.
During their visit Susan established a few guidelines for casual travel;
Don't rely soley on GPS. Susan would have benefited from a teeny bit of prep work to know exactly where she wanted to end up.
Don't make fear-based decisions. She doesn't have to jump into the first available on-street parking space.
Bring snacks. She knows this, she just got lazy.

On her way home Susan's daughter suggested they stop by an awesome seventies vintage store where Susan purchased a super fab tie dyed wrap skirt* that was representative of what may have hung in her own closet circa 1977.
*Editor's note: Susan's closet did not contain tie dyed anything, ever, but she did own a number of long, Indian printed wrap skirts which she wore into the early eighties.


Every night before Susan goes to bed she gets her food ready for the next workday, this preparation includes a green smoothie.

Susan threw a banana into the blender, covered it with soy milk, a fistful of spinach and an over sized spoonful of frozen orange concentrate then blended the sh*t out of it for a few minutes. She sliced up an elderly mango and threw that in too.

During the cleanup Susan saw that a scrap of sticky mango skin had adhered itself to a plate. She banged the plate against the garbage but the mango skin hung on.

Susan was determined to enforce her dominance over this defiant piece of fruit skin.

She took the plate in her right hand, turned it upside down and smashed it with extreme prejudice over the garbage. She did this two or three times in rapid succession. Unfortunately, one of her fingers was in the line of fire.

Susan was smashing a dinner plate against the thumb of her left hand.

It took a few seconds for the pain to reach her tiny dinosaur brain. She stuck her thumb underneath the faucet & turned on the water. It didn't come out cold as she expected, but blazing hot and burned her almost immediately. She burns herself at least once every other day because she has been lazy about figuring out how to turn down the water temperature.

With finger burned and throbbing Susan calmly hit up the secret stash of Vicodin left over from the husband's dental surgery and ate a pill.

The she went to bed.


Saturday morning and Susan started crying even before she had her coffee.

Her priorities are all messed up.

Since she's been in the habit of crying for the last four months she has developed an involuntary pattern of covering her eyes with her left hand as soon as she starts. It's immediate, the hand just jumps up there. She assumes it started for privacy then just developed into the thing she does. It's when she really breaks down, not just for a quick sniffly thing.

It's her move

The move is not done in front of anyone, she hates an audience when she cries. But, in the shower, staring out the back door, sitting at a red light...
Susan attempted to reenact the move for a pal at work & couldn't. She doesn't really know where her hand goes. 
The hand knows but Susan doesn't.
She finds this interesting.


Doctor's Orders

Susan pinched this from the awesome Nick Holmes and has prescribed herself to watch it three times a day.
Doctor Susan has written down on her fake prescription pad that you MUST WATCH IT too.
She's not kidding.


Four months today, Susan has been without the husband.

Susan has reverted to thinking of herself as a normal person but she's really not. How can she be normal when there's a big hole in her universe where the husband used to be? She doesn't even know where he is other than in a cardboard container in her bedroom closet. She sat his talking George Bush doll up there to keep him company, she likes to see them together.

Susan watched the husband get sick and die in two months, shouldn't she be mad or something? Or be flinging herself around screaming and tearing her hair out? Wait, she already does that when she can't find the nail clippers.

She's recently gotten a handle on the crying. She still does it of course, but can go longer periods in between.

That first day back to work after burying Cousin Lisa Susan took crying breaks in the toilet. At the end of the day she barely cleared the front door before she broke down, then sat in her car sobbing. Every morning she cried all the way to work then sat in the parking lot, sucked up her tears & went inside.

The car is crying central, it's her little privacy bubble which inspires thought and emotion. Same thing with the shower.
Alone + thinking = Bam! She's crying.
Thinking about sex definitely makes her sad, all that trust and intimacy is just gone. Plus the husband was funny. He'd strut around the room all full of himself like a wrestler in the ring, grandstanding for his audience. Who else is going to act like that for Susan?

No one.

Susan is going to get up, go to work, pay the bills, count her blessings and keep moving toward the future.

She misses her cousin Lisa every day.

She misses the husband every minute.


Susan went out on a Friday night to hear her friend's band play in a neighborhood bar. It was just like being back in high school except everybody in the bar was old.

Like her.

The music was really loud and Susan felt confined because she couldn't talk. A contributing factor may have been that Susan and her posse were right up front. Once they repositioned themselves it was more comfortable and Susan's Guinness sodden conversational ability was given some elbow room.

Since this was a neighborhood bar, specifically in Susan's neighborhood, there was always the chance that Mr. & Mrs. Drunk may stumble in. Other than waving from across the street Susan does not like to promote any unnecessary interaction between herself and The Drunks. They aren't bad people, just not anyone she wants finding their way up to her front door.

The evening was low key and friendly but Susan doesn't really know what to do with herself in a bar anymore. She's not a dancer and there's only so much she can drink before it becomes counter productive. The group was winding down when Susan spied Mr. Drunk twenty feet in front of her. She immediately brought this to Little Sister's attention and within ten seconds found herself shoved out the front door and onto the street along with the rest of her collective.

This portion of the evening was over. Fifty percent went along with Susan for coffee and tea, the other fifty went home.


Susan's Plan of Grief Recovery

Susan's beloved Cousin Lisa was buried with military honors three months to the day after the husband died. She imagines the husband was pleasantly surprised to see Cousin Lisa show up in whatever location they now find themselves. This gives Susan comfort although it doesn't keep her from covering her face and sobbing into her hands at the thought of it.

On that first sad day Cousin Greg told Susan We're in the same club now. Sure, the Heartbroken Persons Club of Misery and Sleeping Alone Forever.

It needed a dramatic title.

After that, Susan spent some time thinking about what she knew of navigating grief so that she may help her fellow club member. Any success she's had comes from believing that she will be OK. She started a list and wrote the word BELIEVE.

Next she thought about how she would seek comfort by climbing back into bed with her morning coffee then stay there till the afternoon. She wrote that down, COMFORT.

She didn't always cry although she wanted to. To remedy this she'd look at a picture of her warm, protective, funny, smart, wonderful husband's face and let his absence overwhelm her. Once it started she'd keep it going.
She wrote CRY.

Next came a long one; DON'T ALLOW THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THINGS TO GET OUT OF CONTROL. This is why she came home & immediately stripped the bed, began clearing out his bedroom drawers, then hit the closet.

As Susan began taking over household & financial tasks previously maintained by the husband a word kept sailing through her head; simple.
Keep everything simple. Make it easy.
She thought about this word often, it became like her mantra. She wrote INSPIRATION WORD.

CREATE NEW RITUALS. Thursday Movie Night was instituted by the college wrestler. Each week one member of Susan's little family gets to choose a movie and accompanying snacks. The movie is totally up to the discretion of the chooser and kept secret until time of viewing to cut down on complaining by the audience. There are no rules for Thursday Movie Night beyond mandatory attendance between the hours of 8-10 pm.

Susan moves in slow motion through her days. Work is exempt from this lethargy because it's work, and she has to get sh*t done. But, when she's home only one thing per day gets accomplished when formerly it might be seven or eight. And, she's completely absent minded.
Susan finished with TO DO LIST lest nothing at all get done.


Susan was humming along, doing pretty well with the whole dead husband situation. She was back to work, taking care of grown up responsibilities and keeping things together. It wasn't perfect but she was proud of herself.

Last Thursday Susan slid down the rabbit hole when her beloved Cousin Lisa died.

You read that right.

Cousin Lisa died. 

The Lord, God Almighty could not have chosen two more central people to remove from Susan's life than the husband and Cousin Lisa. 

(Sidebar: It is commonly thought that these things happen in threes. If so, Little Sister better sleep with one eye open).

Susan won't bore you with the depth of her love for Cousin Lisa, suffice it to say that she took time from the pit of her misery to thank God for sending Lisa her way then cried for seven f*cking days straight.


Susan has concluded an entire week of work during which time she has:

  • Developed a cold with green mucous
  • Set off a very loud alarm almost every day 
  • Reacted calmly during a phone call in which she was informed by her son that there was water pouring from the ceiling in the basement
  • Removed the slip she was wearing to lend to a coworker
  • Saw a BIG bug in the stairwell 
  • Went out for weeknight cocktails


Susan had a good first day of work.
She packed enough food to get her through eight hours including a green smoothie made from odds & ends in her fridge and some home made snacks. She was given a brand new, never used desk, hipped to the secret back door parking spots and only set off the alarm outside the office once. Susan got put right to work, no wasting time standing around the water cooler, she is expected to produce results.

Susan liked being back in the familiar embrace of employment.


Susan's unemployed sabbatical is about to end.
Monday she will wake up with the alarm, put on nice clothes, fill her To-Go cup with coffee and drive to her NEW JOB!

Susan has a NEW JOB!

Susan is going to work for Acme Heaven Sent (working title only) because her NEW JOB was sent to her directly from Heaven.

The owner of the company for which Susan previously worked approached her about a new position, one so new no one has ever worked it before. Susan's NEW JOB will be to give people new jobs!

The first thing Susan has to do is re-establish a normal schedule by going to bed on time, something she has not done in seven months.

Wish her luck.


Susan's little corner of the universe is currently covered in snow & encased in ice. She chipped it all off her car and drove very slowly on slippery roads to her doctor appointment. Susan's not had a regular neighborhood doctor in years, eons even, and went to establish herself as a new patient.

She sat in the waiting room and completed some forms filled with questions. Early on she was asked to provide her primary language for which she wrote proper English. When she got to Marital Status she looked at the short list of possibilities which ended with WIDOWED. This was the first time Susan had to answer that question since her status changed. She checked WIDOWED and moved to the next question.

Everything was good up until Emergency Contact.
The husband had been her emergency guy from practically the beginning of her adult life. Big problems, little problems, no problems, he watched out for her the entire time.

Her lifelong Emergency Contact was dead.

The weight of that absence hit her with surprising swiftness and she began to cry. Quietly. She didn't want to attract any attention. She sat in her seat and thought about who the new emergency contact in her life would be, and cried some more. The answer ended up being pretty simple, she didn't want her son to assume that responsibility right now so she named her little sister. Susan's little sister was the most capable person she knew and would make a fine emergency contact. It's a function she performed without incident fourteen years earlier when Susan got a government job in NYC at the same time the husband landed in the hospital.

Susan dried her widow's tears & turned the completed forms in at the reception window. Shortly thereafter while sitting alone in the examination room waiting for the nurse to take her blood pressure she cried. The nurse left and Susan started up again. The new doctor came in and the two had a nice chat, when she left Susan cried. This was the situation every time Susan had some privacy. It finally stopped when she was sent to the toilet to provide a urine sample, the waterworks had run dry.

And, Susan had a urinary tract infection.


Who doesn't love a good letter?


As a general rule Susan doesn't believe in coincidences, often she has found that the coincidental things have been related. This being established, Susan had an interesting coincidental thing happen the week after the husband died.

She bought a new clock radio and set the buzzer alarm to wake her up. On that particular morning she was already sitting up in bed when the buzzer went off. She hit the button to turn it off. Immediately the clock radio came on playing the final five words of a song she liked;
'I and LOVE and YOU'

Bam! it ended.

Susan did not set the radio alarm, only the buzzer. She sat in bed stunned, wondering if the perfect placement of a significant song lyric was a random coincidence or if she just got a message. She said out loud to the empty room Thank you.

Every morning for the next week Susan waited to see if the radio would come on after the buzzer alarm and it didn't. Eventually she reset the alarm and the experiment ended.


The other day Susan was on her way into the shower when the phone rang. It was a lawyer that Susan's been speaking to about a car which was repossessed a few years back.

She & the husband had tried unsuccessfully to argue the court that the lease was swindle-y, but it didn't matter. Susan had signed the swindle-y lease and now was on the hook for more than $13,000. The husband had previously offered to settle for a sum under $6,000.
That offer was rejected in writing.

The lawyer was very pleasant but when he suggested that Susan might want to increase the monthly payment to a more onerous amount she sprang into action.

How much will you take to settle it right now? 

He came back with $11,000

That doesn't help me, Sean. She knew his name so she used it. How about we split it in half?

He couldn't accept half.

She reminded him that she had a recently deceased husband and sez Eight thousand. I'll give you eight thousand dollars right now to be done with this.

He agreed to $8150 and she authorized payment over the phone in her underwear then took her shower and got on with the rest of her day.



The wake for Susan's husband was scheduled for the standard two viewings with food to be served at her house in between. She opted to keep the casket closed because she didn't want anyone to see how dead he looked, herself included. Even still, she was looking forward to it. She wanted to see everyone, she wanted to let the emotion out.

After two days of cold rain it was now bright and sunny, mercifully this lifted her mood. She was still trying to get to the Department of Labor for the mandatory meeting that she missed on Monday. If she took care of it that morning then afterward she'd be in range to pick up her youngest niece from the local airport.

She got to the Department of Labor and was told that no one would be able to see her for another forty five minutes. Without hesitation she pulled out the dead husband card and instantly all faces looked at Susan in pained concern. She was asked very softly to take a seat in the adjoining room.

The adjoining room was filled with people. She walked in, felt overwhelmed and left. Before she got thru the door a voice called her name and she turned to see someone she knew. Susan sat in the seat next to him and when he asked how she was Susan blurted out 'I'm burying my husband today.' 
'What?' he said with an dis-believing laugh.
'I know.' she said as a way to comment on the absurdity of her statement.
A civil servant came to fetch Susan before she could say anything other than goodbye to her seat mate. The civil servant was very nice and said that they would not keep her there any longer, they only wanted her to be aware of the resources available at the employment center. Susan thanked her with appreciation and sincerity then left for the airport.

It was good to be helpful. Everyone had been helping Susan do everything for weeks. Her little sister was out in front, followed by her parents who had been keeping the household running without any instruction, and the husband's daughters, Susan's next door neighbors, Cousins Lisa & Greg, and every friend & relative who was aware of the situation.

Everyone helped Susan.

It was wonderful to see her niece, neither had sad faces despite the misery of the situation, just happy greetings and excited chatter. Susan dropped her off then headed home to get ready.

She chose a pretty kelly green dress recently purchased with the husband at a local consignment shop. It was a bit revealing so she topped it with a blue sweater which tied at the waist. Last, she added his wedding ring suspended from a gold chain around her neck.

The flask filled with tequila was already being safeguarded by the husband's second daughter.
Susan was ready.

She walked into the funeral home, saw her husband's casket and said to herself I can do this.  Set up next to the casket was a large smiling picture of the husband taken by her little sister. It was a nice picture.

She looked around the room, taking it all in, getting her brain ready.

She walked up to the casket to assess the arrangement. Susan was really pleased, it was exactly what she hoped it would be. Included was a surprise of dried lotus pods incorporated into the winter greenery.

Sidebar: Susan understands how insane it is to be happy with things like caskets and funeral flowers but she couldn't help it, that's how she felt.

It was time for the private viewing of which Susan wanted no part. She hot-footed it downstairs to play with the twins until the coast was clear, then returned and began to greet incoming friends and family.

The husband's music was playing and Susan was surprised to find herself animated and chatty. She figured it was just an initial burst of energy which would give way to wailing and sobbing but that didn't happen. She was happy to see everyone who showed up, getting the chance to spend a few minutes in conversation with most of them. When the viewing hours were over she still stayed behind talking.

Meanwhile, Susan's house had been transformed into a busy mess hall. Trays of hot food were sent over from two local restaurants and people sitting in borrowed chairs were all over every square inch of space eating and talking.

Two hours later the evening viewing filled up fast and hard. People from every area of her husband's life flooded in, people she hadn't seen in twenty years and others she didn't know at all. Throughout the evening someone would approach Susan and say 'You don't know me...' and give their name to which she would counter with a story or two the husband had told her about them.

Susan couldn't move against the sea of people coming at her, she embraced everyone including a seemingly endless line of high school wrestlers. Often while hugging one person she'd be reaching over to greet the person in line behind them. This went on till it was time for her to address the packed house from the podium set up at the front of the room.

She began by telling a small story about how the husband told her he loved her the moment he saw her. She originally thought this was probably a pretty standard line, but over the years whenever he repeated it she was always surprised at his consistency and would think maybe he did actually fall in love with me the moment he saw me.

Susan invited anyone not afraid of public speaking to come up and share a story. Cousin Lisa was first followed by her husband, Susan's youngest niece, three longtime friends and ending with the sixteen year old daughter of a family friend. When Susan couldn't coax another brave soul from the crowd she concluded by saying that it was her pleasure & privilege to have been the husband's partner for more than 25 years.

She stayed and talked beyond the viewing hours. She also got through the day without having to hit the flask.

After everyone but immediate family were gone she walked around with Jade, the aspiring funeral director to collect the guest book and all the cards from the flowers. Jade was really lovely and Susan asked about her interest in mortuary science, her schooling and how late can people stay before they get kicked out.

Afterward Susan stood alone at her husband's casket. This was it, in a few moments they would part. She reached out and pressed her hand against the wood leaving an imprint of her fingers and palm to accompany him.

She left and took the big green shamrock with her.


At 4:40 am Susan lost her husband and her children lost their father.

The girls all stayed in the room with him for a long while crying, talking and even laughing because Susan's little sister can't not be funny.

Susan didn't touch her husband, and once she left the room she didn't return while he was in there.

That was that.

Brian the Funeral Director arrived and met with Susan in the communal kitchen. He had her sign some paperwork, then made an appointment for her to come to the funeral home at 10am.

The girls gathered up their belongings, said goodbye to the staff and left.

It was a cold, rainy morning as Susan drove home to tell her son that his father was gone.

She stripped her bed bare, set aside her quilt for the dry cleaner and threw out the sheets so there was no possibility of preserving his dead skin cells in some morbid memorial. She went through her refrigerator and got rid of everything she had been using to make his smoothies as well as all the leftover food that people had sent to feed the family. More food was coming already and she needed the space. Susan spent time talking with her parents until it was time to leave.

The second of the husband's daughters and Susan's little sister met her at the funeral home. Susan and this particular funeral home have a long history, her friend who talks to dead people used to work there, and Susan has a video of them from 25 years ago goofing around in each room.

Brian the Funeral Director and Brian the other Funeral Director met with Susan & her entourage. Yes, two Brians. They were easy to talk to and the little group discussed things other than Susan's dead husband. When it came time to move to the casket room Susan got a little claustrophobic, but she re-focused and kept going.

Susan didn't like any of the caskets, she thought them too shiny and very ornate. She was getting panicky at the thought of spending five thousand dollars on something she hated.  A wave of relief settled over her when she saw the Meridian modelShe took notice of every detail; the deep cherry color, non shiny satin finish, the simple profile. It looked to her like a piece of furniture.  It would be worthy to hold her husband.

Back upstairs, there were a few more particulars to be hammered out, such as the flowers and if Susan wanted any religious personnel to speak. The Brians made the process easy for Susan to get through without crying very much.

Susan had to choose something to sit atop the closed casket. Two large binders filled with floral arrangements were brought to the table & she was disheartened to find an abundance of roses and other flowers which were absolutely not what she wanted. She did see a big five hundred dollar shamrock made of green carnations that made her laugh, so she chose that one with a banner of AWESOME DAD.

When Susan's entourage asked about something with winter greenery for the casket, Brian #1 suggested that they could go to the florist and create an arrangement they liked.

That's what they would do then.

As for having a religiously affiliated speaker, even though Susan's husband was a former altar boy Susan did not want anyone who didn't know him speaking at his service. It was suggested that a podium could be set up for those who wanted to share a story.

That's exactly what Susan wanted. There would be an open microphone.

The remembrance cards were next. The girls chose a lighthouse photo and a sunset photo. Susan didn't want any prayers, even the Irish ones, she wanted each card to have a selection of things the husband commonly said, such as 'Analyze, Adapt, Overcome' and 'Obama is a Communist'.

Lastly, Susan's husband was a fan of the expeditious disposition, so Susan arranged for him to be cremated. She chose a biodegradable container as his temporary repository, and by biodegradable she means cardboard. At a date and location to be determined later, Susan will surround herself with those who loved him and cast her wonderful husband to the wind.

Ten thousand dollars later, Susan and her funereal entourage thanked the Brians and left for the florist.

The day had gotten colder and rainy-er. The florist expressed his condolences and set to work gathering sprigs and cuttings based on the girls' stipulation that it be wintery, but not Christmasy. Susan didn't choose anything herself, she mostly said yes or no to everyone's floral suggestions and when they were done the florist handed them each a white rose. Susan didn't want hers so she gave it to her daughter when she got home.

Later that evening Susan had a full house with her little sister, both grown daughters, a set of twins and their father. The girls were all putting together collages of pictures for the wake, the father of the twins was creating a playlist of  the husband's favorite music and Susan occupied herself by cleaning out the husband's dresser drawers in the room that was now soley hers.

Any time she went in to the dining room and saw the photos she started to cry, so she kept her distance.

That night she slept in the living room on the couch. Her daughter stayed with her and slept on the opposite couch.


Susan had two things to do in the morning before she went to visit the husband; take her son to the doctor and attend a mandatory meeting at the Department of Labor. She showered, ate breakfast, chatted with her parents in a kind of mentally absent way and left the house with her kid.

The mother of the twins texted Susan 'All is well. Dad slept all night, sleeping now, just had morphine and ativan. Woke up a little to say bye to Bill and Kirsten'
Wild Bill & Harriet were headed home to North Carolina, Susan's niece was catching a ride with them.

The verdict from the doctor was strep throat. The son was to be quarantined at home for 24 hours then may wear a mask the following day to visit his father. Susan picked up his antibiotics then dropped him at home before blowing off the DOL and heading over to see the husband.

The husband was sleeping when she got there. Susan asked the nurse if the amount of morphine could be reduced so that he didn't sleep the day away. The nurse explained that his dosage was already minimal & some people have a lower tolerance for morphine. She said that his body was starting to exhibit some of the normal physical signs that it was winding down and preparing to stop. She didn't know when it would happen, but it was close. She also mentioned that in her experience parents try not to die in front of their children, it would be OK to take breaks and leave him alone in the room.

Friends and family continued to come and go all day.

Cousin Lisa arrived to spend her birthday by her favorite cousin's side. Susan was afraid that the husband would muscle in on her turf and die on cousin Lisa's birthday. She expressed this fear as best she could through choked emotion. When cousin Lisa smiled and said that she loved Susan's husband & would be proud to share her day with him Susan could not contain her tears.

The mother of the twins told Susan about an exchange she had with her father the previous day. 'There's a guy over there by the door, we better hope he doesn't come in here' he told her. She didn't see anyone near the door or even passing by in the hallway and didn't think much of it until she read in the hospice pamphlet that those close to death often report seeing people no one else sees.

Susan began to line up air mattresses so that the family could stay with the husband through the night. Her next door neighbor had one, and her friend Connie would return later on with another. She phoned her son to let him know that the time was near. He asked if he could come in to say goodbye. Of course he could, the father of the twins would pick him up shortly.

Susan, the husband's three daughters and Susan's little sister all camped out in his room. Susan was unable to sleep & sat next to her husband with her arm draped across his chest feeling the rhythm of his breathing.

At midnight she texted with her free hand December 1st will still belong to you, Cousin Lisa.


The husband was fidgety and feisty, he told Susan very clearly I don't want to stay here one more day. Susan assured him that he wouldn't.

A short while earlier nurse Kelly told Susan there was a bed waiting for the husband in the hospice located on the grounds of the little caring hospital. Susan fully understood what hospice was yet felt relieved. The husband would be comfortable.

Radiologist Assistant Joe came to insert the husband's PICC line and had to temporarily disburse all the visitors from the room. Everyone reconvened in the waiting room where they ate and told stories and laughed until nurse Kelly was dispatched to come get Susan.
We need you.
The RA had been unable to insert the PICC line into the right arm but had located a nice big vein in the left arm, however the husband refused to let him continue.

Susan leaned in at the husband's bedside and gently explained all the benefits the PICC line would have for him.
The husband said tomorrow. Susan told him that waiting till tomorrow was not practical.
The husband repeated tomorrow. 
Susan said if he allowed RA Joe to inserted it today he would feel better immediately.
Susan was not giving up. When she promised to stay with him while the PICC line was inserted he agreed.

Susan held the husband's hand while RA Joe got to work rolling out a sterile blue barrier across the husband's body exposing only his head and the portion of his left arm on which he would be working. The procedure took approximately ten minutes and afterward Susan thanked the husband for being so reasonable.

The ambulance drivers arrived to transport the husband on his short trip across the parking lot to the hospice. He shook the one driver's hand and pointing to the other inquired How's he doing?
All the family and friends said their goodbyes to the staff, cleaned up the waiting room and headed over.

The first thing that Susan noticed when she walked in to the hospice was an enormous fish tank with gigantic colorful fish. It was really pretty and very relaxing with stools set up in front of the tank assumedly for folks to lose themselves in the calming serenity of the beautiful fish. Just past the tank was a lobby style living room and beyond that a large, well organized kitchen with plenty of seating.  There was also security at the door.

The family and friends camped out in the living room while the husband was being settled into his room. Susan sat with nurse Samantha, completed paperwork including answering the question as to whether there was anyone Susan did not wish to allow see the husband.
She said there was not.

Susan's son had been sick all day with an infected tonsil and a cough that sounded like plague. He was breathing and coughing all over everyone, Susan tried to get him to wear the disposable mask she grabbed from the hospital but he refused. She made a comment that included some curse words and banished him from her sight. He fell asleep on one of the couches.

The family took turns going in & out of the husband's room. He was much more comfortable and ultimately able to turn on his side and fall asleep. The twins came to see their grandpa, watch the fish and play in the TV room. As the evening wore on the husband's friends started arriving, they weren't accustomed to seeing their formerly burly friend reduced to a hospice patient and were a pretty shaken up bunch. The husband found it difficult to speak but he recognized everyone and smiled or made funny faces.

One of their longtime friends met Susan in the hall. He handed her a check 'to help' he said. Susan took a look at it and sobbed in his arms.

That night while Susan took her little family home the husband's grown daughters stayed with their dad and sacked out in his room.