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 disperse 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. 


Poison Ivy Timeline

Tuesday: Susan scratches an itch on her wrist. Later she finds a teeny bump while scratching. Did something bite me? 

Wednesday: A cluster of tiny bumps sends Susan for the hydrocortisone cream. F*cking poison ivy!

Thursday: An explosion of poison ivy blisters assault Susan's delicate arm. She finds relief by turning on the shower as hot as it goes and thrusting her arm underneath.

Friday: Oozing, gauze. Temporary hot shower relief.

Saturday: Oozing, gauze, angry inflammation, relentless itching. Three hours in Stat Medical. First dose of Prednisone. Can't sleep because of the ITCHING.

Sunday: Oozing, gauze, relentless itching. Second dose of Prednisone.

Monday: Oozing subsides, still horrifying ugly, hot shower relief is back. Third dose of Prednisone.

Tuesday: Itching under control, ugliness continues to be hidden by gauze. Seven more days of Prednisone to go.

Who remembers that Susan's previous bout with poison ivy required medical intervention too?


Susan's schedule has been thrown off because the husband has been sick and underfoot for more than a month. It started out as a bad sinus infection which confined him to bed with sensitivities to everything from the sheets to fresh air. Oy! In that time he lost thirty five pounds and acquired an appearance like a refuge from an old folks home. Susan's response has been to badger him into making doctors' appointments, force him to eat what he can, get him up to move around, and argue vehemently over the most retarded nonsense every minute they're together. Beyond this she keeps her distance from the elderly shut-in who replaced her formerly burly husband.

Since the husband has not been eating normally Susan has not been cooking anything other than Sunday dinners when her little sister's family comes over to eat & watch Walking Dead. In an effort to keep his plumbing moving she's been making green smoothies using a combination of spinach, cucumbers, bananas, ginger, brown sugar, cinnamon and yogurt or juice. If she has anything else lying around like oranges, tomatoes or celery she throws them in too. Strangely all those things taste really good together. So good, in fact that Susan has been making them for herself. Her inspiration came from Foodie With Family's Green Orange Julius Smoothie which she recommends very highly. Very highly.

During this period her housekeeping has also fallen off, and when she doesn't clean up no one else does either. A few weeks earlier she came to the conclusion that she would never read all the sections of the NY Times she hoarded during the summer and reluctantly threw them into the recycling pile. Then she took them out, carried them around with her for another week, still didn't read them & put them back.

Currently she has a pile of magazines to sort through before passing them onto her little sister where they will end up as part of her lavatory library collection. Susan loves magazines. Big glossy pictures to tear out and save makes her woozy with delight. It started back in 1972 when Susan removed this Coty advertisement from a magazine, folded it up and carried it in her wallet for years, taking it out to gaze at the simple beauty of the model, Season Hubley:
Now she tears out things like this:
And this:
Sometimes she tears out pictures of five thousand dollar alligator boots or Parisian studios filled with books and a little messy bed by a big window on which to read them. But mostly she saves pictures of things she can do in her house.

Till manana, guys.


peering from some high
window; at the gold
of November sunset
(and feeling: that if day 
has to become night
this is a beautiful way)



Happy November, guys!
Susan is going to punish herself for being a BLAHging failure by writing an obligatory post every day for a month:

We can most definitely judge this NaBloPoMo effort by all her previous NaBloPoMo efforts; expect quantity, not quality and you won't be disappointed.
Well, God bless, set your clocks back and let's all meet here again tomorrow.


Susan's son came home for the weekend.
He was exactly as she remembered him.

One of the ways they spent time together was while he drove her car & she sat shotgun. This was probably the least combative activity they shared. To be accurate there was not any actual combat involved, more like argumentative flare ups even though Susan tried mightily to keep a lid on such stuff. If Susan just let herself go and argued as much as she wanted no one would be left standing. That special behavior is reserved for the husband.

They agreed to compromise on a few points such as, she'll be less sensitive and he'll be more sensitive. That sounds like a recipe for success, right? Perhaps between two grown-ups it is but her son is a teenager with an undeveloped brain, which is always in evidence. She doesn't want to badmouth her kid with a list of examples even though this is her BLAHg and she can do what she wants, so she'll provide just one; Susan requested a small task be completed and it was not done even though she asked nicely, and he agreed, twice a day for three days. What Susan really wanted to say was get the f*ck up off your ass right now and go do it.

The time came to drive the 37 miles out to the ferry which would point her son in the direction of school. The only route is a local road with speed limits as low as 30 mph and sometimes you get stuck behind a tractor.
Also, watch out for the deer!
He still had wet laundry in the dryer which got stuffed into a bag adding unnecessary weight to what he already had to hump. He didn't mind, so neither did Susan.

The kid was hungry & they had no time to stop even though they just left a house filled with food. It wasn't Susan's problem, she wasn't hungry with an hour drive ahead of her.

They arrived at the ferry in time to see it pull away meaning that he would also miss his train reservation. Not to worry, he could get another train for $97 instead of the $21 he paid. And now they had time to drive to the only place that was open and spend $19.40 on a gyro to go.

Susan didn't say a word about any of this, she paid the food bill then climbed back into her shotgun seat. She would have been able to hold her tongue if her son had not given her another in a series of smart-ass answers and then everything came out.

They ended with a mother's loving hug and assurance that she loved him. She watched him walk onto the ferry & sat there for as long as it took to call her husband and exhaust all her complaints about their firstborn. Then she drove home and watched a Marx Brothers movie.


Susan hit a milestone last week when she mailed her first box of stuff up to the wrestler in sleep away college. The contents were totally utilitarian except for the squeaking motion sensor rat she tucked in as a little reminder that mommy misses him.

Initially getting her kid to maintain even the sparsest amount of contact proved impossible. She sought the council of others in her predicament and discovered that his behavior was pretty standard.

It didn't help her feel better.

She walked around sad all the time until he called her twice in one week because he needed something. Now she's used to the relaxed frequency of his communications and happily sustains their relationship through texts and two minute phone calls.

In the 37 days he's been out of her house Susan has found that whatever she puts in the fridge will still be there when she looks for it,  the bathroom no longer smells like pee, there are no 11 pm rides to satisfy his craving for bread & butter pickles, and she's accepted that he's living his own life away from her.


Susan accompanied her Cousin Lisa to an early morning appointment in NYC. Before they headed out the door Cousin Lisa made Susan a cup of Cuban coffee with her colador, which she pronounced Tony Montana style.

A colador is essentially a gym sock employed to strain the grounds from brewed coffee. It resulted in a creamy wonderful brew that thrilled Susan particularly after Cousin Lisa added frothed milk and the teeniest dusting of cinnamon, all without fanfare, as if she prepared her coffee this way every morning. Which Susan assumes she does.

Once in the city, and after the conclusion of Cousin Lisa's appointment, the girls hot-footed it over to Central Park where they enjoyed an unusually warm autumn day chatting, listening to musicians play underneath bridge overpasses, watching a ghostly ballerina mime blow theatrical kisses, sitting in the shade near the bandshell while athletic dudes did flips and jumps, observing of all manner of people including a dirty fella making five foot long bubbles & a midget in a dark suit strolling by with his luggage on a roller cart.

Susan was keen on visiting the Bethesda fountain where they encountered this duo and their beautiful Tribal Baroque:

Here's the wonderful BETHESDA FOUNTAIN:

And BETHESDA TERRACE with its lovely architecture, tiled ceiling and acoustics:

And the iconic BAND SHELL donated by Elkan Naumburg, inside of which a bride & groom were being photographed:

Eventually it was time to go home.
As the girls exited the park they stopped at the GROM gelato truck where Cousin Lisa chose a pistachio gelato and Susan enjoyed the most refreshingly tart and sweet limone sorbet.

Three blocks up Cousin Greg was waiting to chauffeur them home.

Ed note: In 1983 Susan and her little sister attended a Hare Krishna luncheon at the band shell in which they were served food ladled from lined trash cans. Susan got indigestion.


Susan couldn't let twenty years go by without some sort of a celebratory observance so she whipped herself up a party with a minimal amount of planning.

There were LOBSTERS



The party got a little white trash when there wasn't enough room for all the guests, beverages & food, and Susan left out a few details like appetizers, forks & cream for the coffee. But, the bathrooms were clean, the ice bucket was filled, Cousin Melissa constructed a fantastic goat cheese and fig appetizer onsite and everyone appeared to muddle through. There was even a little theatrical presentation when Susan challenged the husband with 'You wanna fight? I'll fight you in front of everybody!'
Ultimately there was no fight, instead there was flourless chocolate cake with raspberry whipped cream, blueberry cheesecake and goodie bags.


Susan and the husband have been manacled together in wedded harmony for twenty years.
Weren't they the sh*t back in 1994?

To commemorate this jubilee Susan attempted to dig out their wedding album, which she has come across within the last year or so, but not on this day. She did find her collection of RSVP cards on which her guests wrote little personal notes or doodles along with their will attends.

The old married couple spent the day in Sag Harbor enjoying dockside cocktails and lobster rolls, American flags, old architecture, hydrangeas, dogs, cemeteries, churches and a Drive Slowly Duck Crossing sign on the way out of town.


Susan and the husband spent a pretty nice day together punctuated by a wee skirmish or two, if asked she'd rate it a 7 out of 10.