The Price of a Memory Is the Memory of the Sorrow It Brings*

November 1999

I found out just before the closing party of BlogHer ’16, sitting in a blue chair in a fancy Los Angeles hotel room with my roomie and friend. As she finished getting ready, I scrolled the Facebook. As you do.

It’s never, ever good when you see a friend change their profile photo to that of or with someone else, especially an older photo. It’s even worse when the cover image also changes to feature the person in question. I clicked through, scrolled a little, and found my fears confirmed.

I spent most of the flight home somewhere in between sleep and a weird memory-dream state. I listened to music Biz and I fawned over during our freshman year of college; the unplugged Alanis album, Train’s first album, and Counting Crows’ This Desert Life. Many of my memories find themselves tied to music inside my photographic memory. I can tell you what she was wearing when we stood outside and smoked in front of the English building on a snowy day; I can see her hat, the flips of her hair.

It’s weird to look through photographs of yourself from sixteen years ago.

It’s especially weird to do so after the death by suicide of a college friend.

What happened between then and now? To any of us? To all of us?

Did she know I’d been there, too? Did she read or watch my Voices of the Year piece from 2014? Did she know I’ve been hospitalized since college? Did she know I live with Generalized Anxiety Disorder? That sometimes depressive episodes sideswipe me and leave me feeling desperate and alone?

Did she know she wasn’t alone?

Being at BlogHer when I found out made my head feel kind of spinny, still does. That piece I wrote in 2014 was based on the public suicide of a man in my town. At the time, his death felt really triggering. Right now, the loss of my friend does not feel triggering. It just feels overwhelmingly sad. Overwhelmingly, unbearably, awfully sad.

I don’t know if it’s because I rather quickly slid downhill from that point in 2014, landing in the hospital the night I no longer wanted to live; things still feel fresh even though I’m in a good place. Maybe that’s it?

Maybe it’s survivor’s guilt. Maybe because I made it out of the darkness, and this beautiful, loving soul did not. Maybe it’s because I work for a non-profit focused on mental health and any loss feels like I’m somehow personally responsible for the loss; like I should have done more.

I thought about her last week, but I didn’t send a message. That knowledge will sit with me for a long, long time.

Maybe it’s because I feel hopeless and helpless, much like I felt back then. Maybe I just want her to still be here on Earth, writing and loving and breathing along with us all.

I don’t know.

All I know right now is that the world lost a light.

Rest in peace, Elizabeth Jean-Louise Adams. You will be forever missed.

 
Title from the song “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby” from Counting Crows’ This Desert Life album.

 

Get Outfits They'll LOVE at Zulily

Parenting Remains Gross but Hilarious. Mostly.

Parenting Remains Gross

I share this story not to remind myself someday of the pile of puke I faced at one o’clock in the morning on a stormy in-between-Monday-and-Tuesday. I won’t forget that easily.

No, I share to remember how I came to know about said pile of puke. Because who knew that learning your oldest son vomited on the floor in the middle of the night could cause you to laugh just as hard as you gagged while cleaning. Who. Knew?

I heard the rain first. The rain started just as I slipped into bed at the totally respectable #adulting time of 11:30. Always a good patient, I took my sleep medication and waited for the Sandman to come. But then, not even an hour and a half later, I heard the rain pouring loudly.

I don’t normally wake up an hour and a half after taking my sleep medication. It’s hard to wake up eight hours after taking my meds, let alone so quickly. I figured I must have just consciously missed some thunder and closed my eyes.

Only to have hot breath on my face in the next second.

“Mommy.”

LittleBrother stood THISCLOSE to my face. The sound of his door opening must have been what woke me up. I opened my eyes, the house still dark.

“Yes, Booey?”

“I need to tell you something.”

It’s one o’clock in the morning. What could this kid need to tell me right this very second?

“What is it?”

“Well, you see. It’s about my brother. He did something.” A lengthy pause ensued. “About a game. He did something with a game.”

Child, are you freaking kidding me? You woke me up, disturbed my already hard-to-get sleep, to tell me about something your older brother did with a game earlier in the day? Deep breath. Don’t lose your cool. It’s the middle of the night.

I pulled him in close.

“Buddy, you’re just talking gibberish. Go back to bed. You’re asleep.”

I finished the hug, pushed him away, and closed my eyes again.

Then I heard the light flick on in the boys’ bathroom. Then some spitting.

You know the spitting I mean. It’s never good to hear spitting at a toilet in the middle of the night.

“What’s going on,” I half-hollered, half-mumbled from my bed.

“I’m just cleaning myself up,” BigBrother half-hollered, half-mumbled back.

Ugh.

“From what?”

“I threw up.”

I tossed back the covers, walked into the bathroom, and looked into the toilet.

No. Vomit.

“Bud, where did you throw up?”

“On the floor where I was sleeping in my brother’s room.”

I walked into the room, the smell overwhelming me before I even got there, to find LittleBrother back asleep in his bed; he had to step over the giant pile of puke to get back into bed.

I sighed.

I instructed BigBrother to brush his teeth and go to his own bed after making sure he felt okay and didn’t have a fever. I woke LittleBrother and send him to my bed. I took the dog’s towels and scooped puke. For a second, I thought I might rinse the puke out of the towels, but decided they belonged in the trash.

Then I Googled how to use our Little Green Clean Machine. The site I landed on involved lots of pop-ups which involved lots of cussing by me. I cleaned up the stain on the not-all-that-dark carpet. I put Purify in the diffuser. I took the puke towels, a pillow caught in the fray, and the rest of the trash out to the curb in the pouring rain. I washed my hands, changed my pajamas, and climbed into my bed.

Which was approximately eleven billion degrees because prior to this sleep-walking-and-talking event, I told LittleBrother that the only thing he did in his sleep was sweat.

He’s now really excited that he not only talks in his sleep like his dad and brother but that he walks, too.

I slept on the couch. Parenting, man.