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 is in front of her.

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 anything that hurts, 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 ago 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 right.

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.


Susan began the day by scrolling through the husband's phone contacts so she could let people know what was going on & come to say goodbye if they were so inclined. The husband had over 900 contacts in his phone and often he used codes, not names, so it was difficult to figure out who was who. He also mis-spelled names & used nick names. His phone was insane.

Susan remembered a year or so back when she picked up the husband's phone to call home. She pressed the button for HOME, but it connected her to the wrong number.
She tried again. Wrong number again.
She finally figured out that he had multiple designations for home. There was Home 1 (Susan's family), Home 2 (daughter) and Home 3 (other daughter).

Meanwhile, the husband's eldest daughter had driven all night with her family, including the twin six year old boys and got to the hospital at 6 am. Her father recognized her, gave her a hug and said I love you.

When Susan got there he looked like he had another five minutes left on earth, but then he perked up, recognized all his visitors and was even funny. He was a sick, fatigued version of himself and Susan was not always sure what he was saying, but he made sense when she figured it out. She spoke to nurse Kelly about moving him to hospice.

The husband still had a crazy amount of visitors; his daughters, his sister, Susan's family, their friends, his friends, even the twins came in to see Grandpa. He got lots of attention and Susan raked in the compliments about being strong.

Strong Susan was having trouble keeping up with the small amount of things she had to do, even staying in contact with people proved to be too much. Her little sister took over & became her personal assistant, doing everything, including making sure Susan was fed. Little sister was at the top of a big heap of people helping carry Susan gently along.

The IV situation in the husband's arm remained a problem, he wanted to move around like a free man in his hospital bed, but his arm had to remain straight and at his side. Night nurse Bonnie told Susan that they could only keep the current IV in his arm for 3 days, which was almost up, before a new IV site would have to be found. The husband's veins had been teeny tiny even before he hit the hospital, and it was very difficult & painful to keep finding new ones. Bonnie told Susan that a PICC line could be inserted through a larger vein in his arm and stay there for as long as was needed. Plus, he would be able to bend the arm to his heart's content and get rid of the BP cuff which he hated. Susan asked why the PA had originally only recommended the port in the neck, and not the PICC line. Bonnie hypothesized that the port may have been suggested because of the immediacy of the blood pressure problem. Susan said that she wanted the husband to have the PICC line inserted tomorrow.

Susan's next door neighbor texted her to give the husband a big bedtime hug and kiss. Susan texted back: I delivered your hug & kiss, he gave me a tired laugh that sounded like 'he he he'.


When Susan arrived nurse Kelly told her that the husband was doing worse.

All day long relatives and friends arrived at the hospital, the staff didn't restrict the amount of guests. They filled his room & spilled out into the hall. They set up shop in the waiting area just outside the ICU. There were coats and bags and food and Starbucks and Wild Bill's new girlfriend, Harriet.

The husband recognized everyone and spoke as much as he was able to, using short sentences. He wasn't happy with the IVs, blood pressure cuff or compression cuffs on his legs and fidgeted with everything. He also tried to lie with his arms behind his head, as if he were in a hammock. Because the IV was inserted very close to the crook of his right arm he had to keep the arm straight, any time he bent it the IV machine would beep and OCCLUSION WARNING would scroll across the monitor. It became the job of anyone who sat at his right side to hold his hand and keep the arm from moving. This was a full time position.

Late in the afternoon the Physician Assistant explained that the husband's organs were shutting down. Susan let this information soak in to her brain. Her follow up question was worthy of a five year old, 'He won't be coming home?' The PA told her that it was unlikely he would be well enough to go anywhere, but she may wish to consider hospice as an option.
Susan thanked him for the information.

Even though the information sucked, she was actually thankful to have it. Later, her daughter would tell Susan that knowing is better than worrying.

Two hours later the PA sent Susan's little sister to retrieve her from the restroom.
He explained that the husband's blood pressure has been dropping rapidly and he didn't know why. Susan will have to make a decision as to what, if anything, she wanted to do to keep him alive. He told her that they could insert a port in his neck which would administer blood pressure drugs directly into his jugular. She immediately thought of his daughters who would be arriving the next day and asked if this might buy him 36 hours, but the PA was not guaranteeing anything. She asked if the port would hurt or add to his discomfort in any way. He explained how it would be done, that it would create a pinching sensation and then probably be something of an annoyance afterward.

Susan got on the phone with the husband's eldest daughter. They were both in agreement. Susan asked if she would call her younger sister while Susan returned to the PA and signed the DNR.
Susan signed the paperwork standing at the nurses station with the husband's visitors all around her. She was thankful to have them there.

At 10 pm Susan was shot and ready to go home but her daughter wanted to stay. So they did, till 2:30 am.


Susan woke up and got the husband ready to go to the hospital. He was ridiculously lethargic and unable to follow simple commands such as lift up your foot so she could help put his pants on. She woke her snoring son to ask if he wanted to assist taking his dad to the hospital.
He said no.
Are you really telling me that you don't want to help me take your sick father to the hospital?
The son said with a cheeky smile that if she was going to guilt him into it then yes, he'll go.

Susan called Sloan in NYC to hip the covering doctor that she'd be taking the husband to a well known hospital a few towns from where she lived.

It took a great effort to finish getting the husband dressed because he was still a strong guy and kept trying to fling himself backward on to the bed to go to sleep. With the son's help Susan got him out the front door and into the car where he was uncomfortable, fidgeting with the seat belt and trying to get out. His discontent grew worse and worse. Susan opted to get off the main road and travel the back way which brought them past two smaller hospitals, the second of which he had spent three hairy months back in 2001. As they passed his alma matter he started yelling Stop here! Stop here! So, she did.

Susan's not sure if he recognized the hospital, or if his agitation just hit critical mass, but she and the son got him in to a wheelchair and brought him inside where he repeatedly said Let's go as he tried in vain to get out of his seat.

Susan felt sad while explaining his medical history to the intake nurse. The husband continued to say C'mon, let's go as if someone was going to wheel him out of there. Susan explained that the hospital would help him feel better but was not sure if he understood.

Susan's husband said very softly Help.

He was given bed 109 in the Emergency Room. The nurses were all over him. After a scan the doctor explained that the husband was in liver failure and suffering from hepatic encephalopathy, which is a loss of brain function because the liver was not able to remove toxins from his blood. He also had water in his lung which was seeping up from his liver through his diaphragm. He was immediately put on antibiotics & bags of sodium chloride to hydrate him. He looked at Susan and smiled crookedly. In a sedated stupor he said Erin Go Bragh to his Irish nurse.

Susan tried unsuccessfully to remove his wedding band with the help of some goo nurse Christine gave her. She wondered what would happen if the ring would not come off and didn't like any of the answers she came up with. She turned her attention instead to the ER doctor answering the phone, 'This is St. Charles Emergency Department, how may I save your life today?'

All day long medical personnel sought out Susan to explain the husband's symptoms and what they could do to alleviate them. She spoke to more doctors in the 8 hours they spent in the little hospital than in 3 weeks at Sloan. Sloan told Susan he had water in his lung but then offered no suggestion for relief, they just sent her home. She decided that she would not be taking the husband back to NYC and would find a new doctor closer to home. As far as she was concerned The Cancer Center at Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital could go s*ck her d*ck.

Throughout the day Susan's family arrived and went in waves. Wild Bill and his daughter arrived separately from North Carolina. By the end of the day the husband was moved to room 90 in the ICU. He looked better, made sense when he spoke, was eating soup but was also constantly fidgeting with his pillow & covers as well as trying to climb out of bed still saying 'Let's go'.

Susan saw the husband's wedding band sitting on the windowsill. She took it and threaded it through the wrap bracelet she was wearing.

She was tremendously relieved to have the husband in the capable hands of her little hospital. She and her little sister went home to eat a reheated Thanksgiving dinner.

Susan slept soundly that night.


One of the husband's other nieces works for VNS, Susan phoned her first thing in the morning to discuss getting at-home hydration for her increasingly dehydrated husband. Susan was asked if she needed assistance with bathing, dressing or toileting him. Susan answered that she did not, she & the husband were managing just fine with all that.

She noticed earlier that the husband had a smidgen of diarrhea, she only mentions this very personal detail because she knows it will dehydrate him further, add another thing to manage and give her something else to worry about. His dehydration was already making him so tired he didn't want to get up out of bed, and he didn't make any sense when he talked.

Susan was due to leave the house at 12:30 pm to pick her daughter up at school, then her little sister, for their trip to get Dr. Wong's herbs. Susan was getting a little frazzled. She had to deposit money into the college wrestler's account so that he could purchase his ferry ticket later on that day and come home for Thanksgiving. It's a ten minute task, but Susan felt overwhelmed & kind of freaked out in front of her mom.

She got in to the car, her heart pounding like she was having a heart attack, and noticed that she was actually an hour ahead of schedule. It was 11:30 am. She laughed out loud and went in to double check the time then apologize to her mom for losing control. She was not happy about leaving her husband behind all day because she knew he would just sleep until she got home. She was also worried about the bathroom situation. But she had to get the herbs.

The trip to Chinatown was uneventful. It was raining. They found a parking spot directly across the street from their destination. It was kind of like a Chinese health food store but everything looked like shriveled fingers or toe nails and they were all stored in glass jars. It had a distinct fragrance, sort of like a salty humidor, which was not unpleasant. Only one of the three people in the store spoke any semblance of English, but they knew who she was & emerged from the back with a large grocery bag filled to capacity with little plastic pouches covered in Chinese characters and containing a brown liquid, still warm. Susan thanked them, paid her tab and left.

The girls took this opportunity to have a late lunch in a place where they were the only patrons. Susan had curry. Little sister picked up the tab. Afterwards the girls shopped in a local market and loaded up on all sorts of nonsense like gold & red decorations and Lucky Kitties with the waving hand.
When the girls got home Susan assisted her husband up out of bed and into the tub but then couldn't get him out. Her brother in law, husband of her little sister, came in and lifted him out. Since the husband has gotten sick her brother in law has come over most nights to keep him company. Sometimes they both fall asleep in the living room, one on one couch, the other on the other couch.

Susan knew that she would not be able to care for her husband at home for much longer.

She brought him out to the living room to see everyone and start on the herbs. The husband wasn't having any of it. Susan tasted it and discovered why; it was like liquefied asparagus. Susan was tired, scared and not in the mood for his stubbornness. She spoke to him loudly, like he was a bad boy who wouldn't drink his asparagus tea. The daughter interceded and got her father to drink, sip by sip, the unpleasant liquid, just by being encouraging and sweet.

It was lovely to watch.

Shortly thereafter, the daughter suggested that Susan not use yelling as a motivational tool, but try something more gentle and reasonable. Susan felt like an assh*le.

During this time Susan's little sister and mother left for the ferry to pick up the college wrestler. He had not seen his dad in a month and Susan was afraid that he would be shocked.
Susan was just afraid.

Meanwhile, the husband just wanted to go back to bed. He made this request every moment he sat in the bosom of his family. Susan explained that he had been in bed all day and wasn't this nice to sit with everyone and watch TV and chat. They all took turns sitting and talking with the husband until he eventually fell asleep where he sat. Susan put him to bed. He was very restless. She climbed in bed next to him and texted his eldest daughter. They agreed that if he didn't settle down shortly Susan would take him to the emergency room. If he fell asleep she'd wait till the next morning.
He fell asleep.


Everyone in Susan's house had a great weekend. There was lots of activity and conversation and friends and wine. On Saturday Cousin Lisa cooked dinner while Cousin Greg hung a shelf in Susan's bathroom, a magnetic strip in the kitchen and replaced the basement door knob. The husband's daughters kept Susan buoyant, Cousin Lisa shared her own methods to keep positive while going through scary medical issues and everyone kept the husband engaged and talking and happy.

Susan overheard snippets of conversation that the eldest daughter had with her twin boys as they described the birthday party that went on without their mother. They are only 6 and selflessly shared her for the greater good.

The meeting was scheduled with the husband's doctor in NYC for 7:45 am. Everyone got up very early and still arrived more than an hour late. Traffic in to NYC keeps to a steady pace of 10 mph.
The husband and his entourage of Susan, her little sister & the daughters met with the doctor.

The doctor was a real downer.
The husband didn't flinch.
Susan didn't faint as she was afraid she might do.

The eldest daughter asked about drug combinations and clinical trials, one of which the doctor was surprised she knew about. She's good at research. Everyone decided that they would ignore the prognosis, the husband would start his treatment, and whatever will be, will be.

The future is unwritten.

The daughters left to return home while the remaining three went to meet with the interventional radiologist. It was a long wait and the husband, who was fading fast, talked with everyone he met. 'How are you feeling?' he'd ask.
There were a lot of nice conversations that afternoon.
He told Susan 'I feel better when I talk to people'.
She knows. For more than twenty five years she has observed him talk to everybody. 'That's how you learn things' he sez. He is always interested in what they do for a living, how business is, where they went to school and do they know so & so. The husband has a real knack for meeting a person, asking questions, then coming up someone they both know. Often he collects their business card & years later, when he needs someone with their background or talent, he'll call them. He remembers them all.

The day ended with Susan granting the only wish the husband had all day. She put him to bed.

Susan got the husband up, showered, dressed and gave him his Ensure. One of his nieces were coming over for a visit so Susan let him rest until she arrived. This particular niece is Susan's age and lost her husband six months ago. Her life goes on with work, friends, family and activities. She is a solid, normal girl and Susan looks to her for inspiration.
The husband enjoyed her visit, she sat next to him the entire time, instead of across from him as most people do. They reminisced about the old neighborhood and people, the husband going back in his memory even farther than his niece was able to. He remembered cars people had and fathers of fathers.

After she left the husband took a nap and Susan corresponded with his eldest daughter who had set up an appointment with Dr. Wong, a Harvard educated doctor who combines Chinese medicine with nutrition & supplements.
After a two hour commute in heavy traffic they met Dr. Wong for an hour, he prescribed a concentration of 20-25 herbs to be taken three times daily to detoxify the husband's liver, get him feeling better, and be better able to withstand treatment. He suggested that Susan go to Chinatown the following day to pick them up, and not wait for them to be FedExed.
The husband's energy has been fading every day. By the end of the meeting he was shot and didn't always make sense when he spoke. However, when Susan got on to the wrong parkway he was able to accurately steer her in the right direction. She had zero faith but he assured her that she could pick up the Cross Island Parkway up ahead, and he was right.
Susan drove home and again granted his only request of the day, she put him to bed.


The husband's two daughters have returned Susan's life to normal. She laughs and drinks wine and cleans and eats dinner and sleeps. The eldest arrived with a notebook filled with plans B and C, questions for the doctors and astounding confidence.

The daughters have no fear.
Susan is made up entirely of fear.

The daughters accompanied their father & Susan to Sloan Kettering for blood work, a hydration, three scans & an MRI. It was a long day which began with the husband curling up to sleep on Susan's lap in the waiting room. The hydration brought him back to life; he looked good (considering) and joked with everyone who came to ask his medical history, poke him with a needle or wheel him to the next room.

During the lengthiest procedure Susan & the girls ducked out for a cocktail and lovely NYC lunch at The Smith.  Four days earlier Susan was afraid she might pass out from the anxiety of waiting to speak to the husband's new doctor.

The daughters will return with their father, Susan & her little sister in three days to learn the results and treatment options.


The husband had a so-so day. He got up, showered, went over more paperwork, argued with someone over the phone (delightfully standard behavior), drank his Ensure then took a nap while Susan rubbed his back.
Susan's neighbor came over with her two young boys to deliver home made food, flowers, cards and the biggest mama bear hug Susan has ever experienced. The boys told Susan that they know what it's like to have a parent with cancer.
Meanwhile, the husband's two daughters drove eleven hours to see their dad & make Susan feel as though anything were possible. They took over every time her low functioning brain couldn't navigate a simple task.
Just like their dad does for her.


Today was a good day.
In the morning Susan hipped her daughter's guidance counselor to current events.
Susan and the husband went over some important paperwork.
His sister came out for a nice visit. Susan likes her sister in law, she's a calm person who's easy to talk to.
She spoke to her parents over the phone.
She wasn't filled with dread all day.


Susan's daughter lost a wonderful mentor over the weekend. He was her figure drawing teacher, but really much more than that. Susan likes to describe him as the person who pushed her daughter outside of her little artistic prison. Susan's niece, the art school graduate, has studied with him since she was in high school. The loss is terribly sad.

Susan's family is now weathering a very dark storm involving the husband's health. Susan, half pessimist/half optimist is figuring out how to get through each day as best she can. She doesn't know what effect this will have on her twistedsusaning, she just knows that she loves to BLAHg & loves her bloggy pals.

Today Susan made a list to keep her mind occupied, she entitled it A Simple List For A Simple Person and it had things on it like;
Learn the mortgage
Do laundry
Organize nails & tools
Make soup.

She did laundry & made soup. She delivered difficult information to her daughter. She made Ensure smoothies for the husband, massaged his legs, assisted him when he needed her & joked with him. She threw things out & reorganized the bathroom drawers. She fielded phone calls & reached out to friends. Susan's next door neighbors came over in the freezing cold to fix a piece of siding that was torn out by the wind. The day ended when Susan's little sister offered to accompany Susan & the husband next week to learn the outcome of his medical tests. Susan breathed a tremendous sigh of relief and accepted her offer.


God's finger touched him, and he slept.


Susan hasn't been cooking lately.
It started when her son left for sleep away college & she had trouble recalculating how much food was needed to feed the remaining people in her house. 
Then her husband got sick & stopped eating. 
Even though her daughter still had to eat it was too late. Susan lost enthusiasm. 

She eventually had her fill of watching the daughter mope around looking for something substantial in a perpetually empty fridge. Susan promised to re-establish the basic tenancy of her maternal contract and make something for the kid to eat.
She started small. A rotisserie chicken became curried chicken salad followed by chocolate chip pancakes from scratch, not Bisquick.
She also made some pumpkin seed candy for company.
The End.


Susan almost had a panic attack over her Netflix password.
 But, she resolved it then everything was fine.
Next time she will try to be less reactive. If possible.
However, she can't guarantee anything.



Obligatory BLAHg post required
Four minutes till midnight
Nothing to say


Susan is not in the habit of watching any Kardashian related television programming. When the original show was shiny & new she watched enough to develop the opinion that Kris Jenner was a pimp.

This morning Susan was sitting in bed with the TV on when one of the Kardashian shows came on, she couldn't locate the clicker so she just let it be.  

Susan was really surprised at the poor quality of communication between a pregnant Kardashian & her partner. The partner didn't appear to be any great prize but he was suffering from grief, anxiety and insomnia and could have benefited from some sweetness & a little emotional strategizing in order to inspire a compromise. When he jumped into a different Kardashian's bed to complain about the pregnant Kardashian, Susan pulled the plug.  She felt sad for the lot of them living their lives in front of the cameras. 

Susan wonders if the pimp is proud of her dynasty.


Susan appreciates the simplicity of the Buddha's wisdom.


Susan's getting ready to hunker down for the winter. She's cleaning, laying in supplies and finishing projects so that every available inch of her house is usable.

Susan's keeping everything simple. She's gonna take care of her family, make soup, watch movies, BLAHg, invite people over and maybe try a new art project or two.

She's not fighting Xmas either, she'll just be a normal person & let it happen.


Earlier in the week Susan & the husband drove in to NYC.

Along the way Susan saw a building that made her think of a pagoda. It didn't actually look like a pagoda, it was just a regular brick building but with a slightly unusual outline. That, combined with the angle at which she glimpsed it brought to mind a pagoda.

        *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *  

These two photographs were waiting to greet Susan when she arrived at their destination:


Susan got a good night's sleep and woke up as if she were reborn. She didn't jump out of bed or anything, high energy is not her style, but the crushing stupor was gone & her mental attitude was returned to its normal condition.

While out replacing the husband's scotch-taped-together phone Susan observed a forty something woman in a baggy sweatshirt, floppy plaid flannel pajama pants & flip flops exit an expensive SUV with her teenage daughter.
As the sloppy mommy drew closer to Susan's location she remarked 'pajamas incoming' inspiring everyone within earshot to look over and watch sloppy mommy walk in.

God punished Susan later when she lost an earring & pair of expensive prescription sunglasses.


Susan is exhausted. She only slept ninety minutes last night. That's not enough.

In the morning Susan is going to bake, she has blueberries & lemon on the counter. They're a good combination.

She's also going to see her friend Fire Ball who made pumpkin curry soup to nourish Susan's weak physical structure.

Susan is bereft of any usable brain power to inspire her obligatory BLAHg post. She likes this picture, will it do?


Susan caught the first episode of House of DVF and immediately developed a crush for Diane Von Furstenburg.
Let's all look at some pictures of DVF together starting with this dress, OK?
Susan doesn't know what the future holds for her & DVF, but she's prepared to watch for the next seven Sundays to find out.
Susan also liked this article she read in Vogue.