I went to Los Angeles
to visit a friend. I got robbed. I had absolutely nothing left and so
to make some money I remodeled my friend’s house. We rented the
house to a young woman named Patti. If I could find the guy who robbed
me, I would probably kiss him. That was the beginning of the greatest
chapter of my life.
I was married to Patti for almost 30 years. She was my best friend. We
would finish each other’s sentences. We used to laugh and say the
sex was so great, even the neighbors would have a cigarette. Then one
day she went to the doctor and came home diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Four months later she was gone. It was just that fast.
I don’t know how to describe that time, really. I kept trying to
get adjusted to the idea, to get “used to it” or wrap my head
around it, but you really can’t. It just happened so fast.
After she died I was numb. I kept thinking that there was something wrong
with me - I wasn’t grieving enough; I wasn’t feeling it like
I should. But the truth is, you are just numb. I would tell anyone going
through that to take advantage of that time to get anything done you need
to get done because three or four months down the road numb is gone. And
then it hits. The grief comes in like an unexpected tidal wave.
I went crazy to some extent. They tell you not to do anything major in
the first year. Don’t make any major changes in your life. Don’t
do this, don’t do that. I pretty much did everything they told me
not to do. I think on some levels I felt like I was invincible. I felt
she was watching over me, running the show from afar (so to speak) and
therefore I could do anything I wanted and it would work out.
This applied to quitting my long-time job, starting a new business, not-too-brilliant
financial dealings, not-too-brilliant personal dealings and really, really
stupid shit like just going to the bar, drinking half the bar and driving
home. Some of it worked, and lots of it did not work. I will say I lived
through it, and I did take chances on some good things I might not have
ever done before which did work, but lots of it was just plain insane
and I just plain got lucky.
Loosing someone is a restless undertaking in more ways than one. It was
like my mind was just running. I couldn’t stay in one place for
too long. I would go here, there, see a friend for a few minutes and then
split. Running, running. Just keep moving. I did not try to kill myself
directly. I didn’t go toying with a gun or a noose, but I can honestly
say that I didn’t give a damn if I lived or died. If I ran into
a tree and the car blew up? So what? If I got blasted drunk and drove
off a cliff; so what? (I guess I was looking at death by car. At least
one of my friend’s thinks so.)
The anger stage is rolled into that. I was mad at my wife. It’s
irrational as hell to be mad at someone for developing lymph node cancer,
but rationality isn’t part of the equation at that point. I was
mad at myself because I couldn’t save her. And just forget God.
Really mad at God.
Then one day I decided I needed to put on a seat belt because I knew my
grandkids needed me. They were having a very difficult time in their own
lives about then – more than just losing their grandmother, and
I knew in my heart of hearts that they needed me. My friends were there,
my neighbors were there, my family, my music, all of that was a big part
of helping me through, but I think all in all, it was realizing that my
grandkids needed me that saved me.
If I could say anything to someone who is in the throes of it, I would
say this – find someone who needs you. Somebody out there needs
you; needs your help. Find that person and focus on that for a while.
It may not solve your problem, but it certainly will give you a reason
to live and if you continue to live, your problem will eventually go away.
Sometimes in life we become so swallowed up by our own pain that we cannot
see outside it. Look outside yourself for awhile. There are reasons to
be here and there are people who will love you for staying.
Eventually you, too, will love yourself and your life again.