Category Archives: Sam I Am


Mostly brick exterior with attached oversized 2 car garage with
My mom officially sold her house. I spent all weekend helping her pack and move. The movers are there right now. The new family moves in on Friday. I am heartbroken.

Packing up the house where you spent 2/3 of your life – birth through grad school – is always rough. But packing up that house, the house where your dad died, on Father’s Day is torture. It makes me feel like I’ve lost him all over again.

Most of my friends have already been through this – hell, some of those homes have been bull-dozed – and I’m anticipating some friends sharing their stories and telling me to basically get over it. But, you know, I need a little fucking time.

I hope none of my friends ever have to move back home to take care of their parents, but doing so really helped me to appreciate where I grew up with adult eyes. Taking care of him in the place where he took care of me felt like completing the circle. They say you can never go back home again, but you can. And when you leave again, it hurts twice as much.

I thought I would have time to come by one last time for a visit. But Justin works Monday and Tuesday, I have plans with my friends on Wednesday, and the lady has her final walk-through on Thursday. We were halfway to my mom’s new house before I realized I may have just driven away from there for the last time, forever. I called Liz, sobbing. She’s probably the one friend I have who knew how hard that was for me. Hell, she’s the only friend of mine who saw my dad when he had no legs.

I’m going to find a way to go there one more time. I have to. Even if it’s me just sobbing alone in the basement, without Justin there to hold on to. Even if we have to leave Niki’s house before everyone actually walks to the Gardens. Even if we have to sneak over Thursday night when I’m already so busy and sleep-deprived.

My whole life, I’ve always noticed when the clock hit 9:08. I know that it just stood out to me because it was so familiar, but it really felt like it happened so much for a reason. After my dad died, any time I saw 9:08 on the clock, I would whisper hello to him or just tell him that I miss him. It’s our little moment, at least a couple times a week. (I asked my shrink if this was weird and he said, “Do you freak out if you miss it? No? Then I think it’s really sweet.”) Anyway, I think for a little while it’s just going to make me sad.

I could write forever about that house – my house. But if I start to list all reasons I love this house, all the memories I have, all the time I spent there, all of my landmark moments, the fact that I have known our neighbors for 32 years and they’re like my family, the fact that my friends basically lived here, too … I would go on forever. And maybe I will, someday.

But for now, I’m practically paralyzed with sadness. I can’t even eat. I just sit and stare into space and sigh. It was so much easier when I could feel this way sitting on that back patio, surrounded by trees and smoking cigarettes, knowing an old friend would probably drop by at any moment, with my dad listening to the radio on the porch directly above me.

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Chasing Nothing

I’m alone a lot these days. Justin works Sunday and Monday nights, Tuesday he has class, and Wednesday he has Police Academy. And while I relish my time alone, lately it’s been causing some problems with my PTSD.

When I was first faced with my dad losing his legs, my shrink told me to just give myself 60 seconds a couple times a day to cry and let it all out. And it worked–the bathroom became my little safe place to be afraid or upset, and the feelings would pass like a tiny storm and I’d be fine again.

I never ignore those feelings. I never block them out. But PTSD is a lot different than grief or stress. It’s visual. It’s physical. Your body jumps from feeling fine to being back into that moment or period of time. The jump can be triggered by anything and it’s unexpected and shocking. And when I’m alone and not concentrating on a book, show, song or chore, it hits me hard and often. Continue reading

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F This January: Fitness and FIANCE (and Facial Swelling)

Just so I don’t let this thing drop off before I’ve started, January’s goal is to hire a personal trainer at my Y and/0r get Steve to finally burn me the P90X dvds he promised me. I’m pretty good at getting in shape on my own, but I have the feeling I could be using different machines and free weights. I’m sort of in a rut with those. I want to be semi-ripped by April.

I had my surgery this morning. Ooooh anesthesia. Ooooh gurl. Oooooh OOH. Now I understand what everyone was talking about! I mostly maintained my composure; the girl next to me collapsed into a clearly-never-high-before fit of giggles. (Not that I’ve ever been high before. Internet.)

So far the swelling and pain aren’t too bad (unless you are talking about how much my wallet hurts). The real ugly starts tomorrow, apparently.Justin is an amazingly great caretaker and even had a stuffed monkey waiting for me in the car when they walked me out.

I didn’t really have a panic attack before my surgery like I thought I would. Turns out the drugs are in the IV; I fell asleep waiting for the mask everyone told me about. I’m pretty grateful for that. I did get kinda emotional on the way there because this is my very first surgery, and everything about it reminded me about my Dad.

I haven’t really found the time to get into this on the blog, but I was recently diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s from the last few years with my dad. I’ll go into it more some other time, but I’m still crying about him at least once a day. It’s usually less than a minute, but it’s not about grief or missing him. It’s flashbacks, anger, and just thinking about everything he went through. I can’t stop putting myself in his shoes and it’s painful, but I’m aware that what I witnessed was pretty traumatizing and this is a common reaction. I’ve gone back to awesome Dave and have some good books and techniques to work on, but going through my first surgery hit a little too close to home in that area.

And well, there was a little grief today. If anyone could have calmed me down and walked me through this, it would have been him. But I tried to imagine what he would have said, and that helped a lot. Getting to say, “My fiance” like 10 times when the nurses asked me about my driver helped, too.

Blah Blah Wedding Cakes:

My favorite photographer (Ben of the Beth Grant video awesomeness) is free on the date that I want! Biggest priority is booking a venue in the next few weeks. This is not a section about cakes; we already know we’re copying off my cousin for that because it was fucking delicious. (If you don’t know what “Blah Blah Cakes” is about, then you must be younger than me, at least where the Internet is concerned.)

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Here Comes The Tears

There’s another reason why I’ve been so anxious about my cousin’s wedding. I mean, besides the fact that I look ridiculous in fuchsia. Besides the fact that strapless bras aren’t built for girls like me. Besides the fact that my hair is so sad (yes, in England that is an actual term on the packaging–“flat and sad“) that hairdressers remark about it as loud as possible in a room full of girls who consider hair their best asset, and then they all stare at me and whisper and wonder if they could possibly live with hair like mine. Yes, this happens. Yes, I hear you. Yes, life is possible and you develop other assets, like brains.

The biggest reason I’m anxious about my cousin’s second wedding is because of what happened at the first one.

I’ve always known that my dad would never make it to my wedding. The walk down the aisle, the toast, the first dance–since I was a little girl, I’ve always known that those would be moments we would never share. And it hurts. Even when he was still alive, even after years of accepting this fact, even after realizing that I hate weddings anyway for all the reasons listed above, I would see these moments at other weddings and it hurt.

My brother and his wife basically eloped, so when my dad and I were both present at my cousin’s first wedding, I knew it was probably the last wedding we would ever attend together. At the time, he was still relatively healthy, but I knew. I always knew.

I spent her whole reception waiting for a slow song–one that wasn’t too romantic, one that felt right, one that of course I can’t remember the name of today, though my mom has it on video somewhere–and I asked my dad to dance.

And the whole time we were dancing, I tried as hard as I could to remember that moment. I asked him about when he married my mom. He laughed and told me stories. Then I closed my eyes, put my head on his shoulder (which was hard because we were the same height), and pretended the moment was ours.

No one else knew it, not even him, but that dance was our Father-Daughter Dance at my wedding. Morbid much? Yeah. But in hindsight, I’m glad I did.

So tomorrow, I’m going to be thinking about that a lot. And I’m pretty hormonal this week as it is, which always makes me cry about him more than usual. So it’s going to be hard as hell to hold it all in, especially when my uncle is walking my cousin down the aisle–for the second time, so unfair–and I’m standing in front of everyone with no discreet way to blow my nose.

I want to end this on a happier note, so I’ll tell you something that I told everyone about in person but never wrote about: when I told Justin that my dad was on hospice, the first thing he said was, “I need to talk to your dad.”

And he came over, sat next to my dad’s bed, and asked my dad if he could marry me … someday. They talked for a long time and most of it is a secret between them. Isn’t that the cutest?

So my dad and I missed a lot of our moments, but thanks to Justin, at least we have one. Oh! And did you know my parents got married at St. Justin’s? Hahaha.

Seriously, though: tomorrow. Does anyone have a valium I can borrow?

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Gimme Shelter

It’s been one year since my Dad died.

I’m taking a half day so I can check out the other Y location and get some running in. It’s still World War Fat, so I don’t plan on drowning my sorrows with wine or eating a lot of comfort food.

When the heat wave dies down–if it ever dies down–I plan on taking a solo trip to our family cabin to do some writing. I’ve been there many times, including to spread his ashes, but I feel like it’ll do me some good to be alone. (And it’s always relaxing when you have a stretch of the Meramec River all to yourself.

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I finished Life by Keith Richards last night. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s worth mentioning here because my Dad’s favorite band was The Rolling Stones. Honestly, the whole time I read it, I kept wishing that he was still alive or that the book had come out earlier, so I could’ve read it to him. I feel like it would have made that last year a little less miserable.

It’s not fair, but it will never stop being unfair and I’ll never stop wishing that he was around. I’ll just have to get used to that, I guess. Here’s his favorite song:

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He Made It

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We were on our way to Tombstone when we came across a place that seemed like it was where my dad belonged. We ended up spreading his ashes in Cochise County. My dad gave me a book about Chief Cochise when I was little, and I loved it. So rather than Tombstone, which mostly just sounded cool, Cochise County is a great tribute to his love of history, my memories of him, and a great view of the many places he wanted to explore when he got there.

We had just driven into Cochise when we hit a fertile valley full of farmland. After so much brown and red and yellow, all the green was quite a shock. Better yet, the entire area was surrounded by mountains. My brother pointed out the mountains in Tucson and the ones near Tombstone, and we both agreed that the spot had everything we wanted.

We drove down a dirt road past several farms (growing mostly pistachio trees) full of lots of metal hippy art in their yards, like in Castaway.  Finally, we came to a crossroads, and the scene was beautiful yet eerie, which is the best atmosphere for spreading cremains, I think.

I tried to toss them into the vegetation as far as I could without Lebowski’ing myself (again). I couldn’t wander too far off the road because flip flops are not the ideal defense against rattlesnakes. I spread them by myself. I cried a little. My brother and Justin gave me big hugs. It felt right.

P.S. We drove past a million giant dust devils on the way and honestly, how awesome would it have been to cut open the bag of ashes and set them right in the cyclone’s path? If we had more time, I would have insisted. Actually, if I die before coming up with anything cooler, that’s what I want you guys to do to me.


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“I cut down on my drinking (hah, from a lot down to pretty much!)
– Note from my dad’s unfinished memoir

We’re taking my dad to Arizona tomorrow. Well, tomorrow Justin and I are driving to Texas. Then Friday, lunch in Roswell (wooo!) and giving my niece a big hug in New Mexico. Saturday: Arizona. Sunday we fly out of El Paso, which is 10 feet away from Juarez, so in case we get shot by a drug cartel it was nice knowing you.

My brother and I decided that rather than Tucson, where he was going to move, we’d rather take him to Tombstone. He wouldn’t want to be in Tucson without my mom*, and since this is more symbolic than anything, we thought he would love Tombstone.

He was really close to this lady at our church named Joanie. She would take him out for coffee at Daily Bread almost weekly (he would always get a big blueberry muffin). For someone who couldn’t drive, friendships like that meant a lot to him, and to us.

When I greeted Joanie at his memorial, she blurted out, “I miss him!” with such sincerity.  It was one of the most genuine things that happened that day, and for that I will love her forever.

Today I learned that Joanie’s son works at my company. Not only that, but out of the thousands of places he could work on our campus, he’s in my department, in my building, right downstairs from me. I went and said hi to him; he looks just like her. I’ll bet my dad gets a kick out of this.

My dad was writing a book about his life story, covering everything from growing up in an alcoholic family to losing 80% of his vision and coping through his faith. I found it on his computer.

I’ve skimmed it a bit to make sure I have the best draft, but I’m going to read it in its entirety for the first time on this trip. This way, my final road trip with my dad will be the one where I learn the most about him.

I don’t think I’m ready for this, but I feel like he is. So, off we go.

*I’m the type of person who still thinks stuffed animals have feelings, so you can only imagine how much I’ve anthropomorphized these cremains.

EDITED TO ADD: Not in a creepy serial killer way; I don’t talk to them or sit them in a chair at the dinner table or anything.


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