Tag: death

carry that weight

I knew I needed to write today, but I hadn’t written anything yet because I was having trouble deciding between two topics that seemed very different.

Today should have been Frank’s 39th birthday. It’s been a hard day, and I have been sad. With the exception of today, I haven’t cried much lately, but the weight of missing him seems to make my steps just a little slower, the effort of living my life just a little heavier. I guess over time I’ll get stronger, and the weight will be easier to carry. But some days it just feels unbearably heavy.

I was going to devote an entire post to Frank, but I was torn because some other things have been happening that are worth writing about, and I could not choose between them. In a weird way, I’m writing about both today.

This weekend I met Seth’s kids. They spent the entire weekend with us and so the four of us spent that time feeling out what I’ve been calling my practice family. We had a super time. We went to the playground, we blew bubbles, we ate too much junk food, we watched movies and TV, and we went roller skating. I used to live in roller skates, but it’s probably been 15 years or more since I skated. I still know how, but it was kind of frustrating that I’m in such lousy shape these days that skating wore me out quickly. Towing a flaily 4-year-old around the rink surely helped me tire out faster, but mostly it’s just that I’m lame and out of shape. It was okay, though, because we all had fun even if skating was a big fat fail.

It was nice, and strange at the same time. I realized that I know exactly how to do this mothering thing, that if I ever have kids of my own I’m going to be really good at it. I think that’s a combination of instinct, growing up the oldest of four girls, and watching my own mom’s phenomenal example over the years. Whatever it is, if I have the chance to bust it out full-time, I’m so on it. At the same time, I felt like an impostor the entire time, and was convinced that someone was going to bust me trying to be a fake mom to someone else’s kids and they’d drag me away to rot in fake mother prison.

There was something amazingly wonderful and right about what we were doing, about our little sunburns and our bubble-sticky hands, our sweaty roller-skate feet, our lazy Sunday morning with Spongebob and Lucky Charms. There was something joyful and giddy about giving a girl time to play laser tag with her dad, about hooking her up with a billion computer games and watching videos with her. There was something so peaceful and pure about dozing on the couch with a bath-fresh little girl sprawled on me, all arms and legs and sweet-smelling goodness. It was right. I was ready for it.

After we handed off the girls last night, Seth and I were walking back to my car in the cool fading light and we both realized that we felt lighter, almost more limber. Even though I ate junk food all weekend, even though I’ve been carrying this immense weight of sadness in my heart, I felt lighter last night. He thought it might be roller skating. I’m pretty sure it was the late spring sweetness of our time with his girls.

3 Comments May 11, 2009

a phone call

Frank dropped me a note just a couple of weeks ago, right before my surgery. He wished me luck, told me not to be nervous, and to call if I needed to. I did need to call him, and I meant to, and I didn’t.

I would sign away a year of my life right now for that phone call, and when I got it, I would make it last as long as I could. We would talk for hours upon hours. We would talk until our voices literally gave out, until even our hoarse whispers faded away, and then we’d just listen to each other breathe until our phones lost their battery power.

Over the last few days, my friends and family have been wonderful. They’ve been checking in and offering support of all kinds, particularly to listen if I need to talk. And I do need to talk. But I can’t, not the way I really need to. I can tell them that the service was incredible, that it lasted for nearly seven hours, that it was very helpful for me to be there to see how many people were touched by his life and to hear their stories and share some of my own. I can tell them that I’m doing a little better, that I think I’ll probably eat and sleep a little tonight.

But the one I really want to talk to about it all will never pick up a phone again. I have had countless conversations with him in my head this week. I want to talk to him about how I’m feeling and get his reassurances that it’ll get better. I want to gossip about his wake. I want to ask him a thousand questions. I want to tell him that the days are getting better, but nights are the worst, when it’s quiet and I’m alone and no one else is around. I want to talk about things I can’t even bring myself to write about now, and my writing is usually so much better and more fluid than my talking.

Even criminals get a phone call. I want mine.

3 Comments April 22, 2009

Frank was always better at titles.

One of my best friends on Earth, Frank Lauro, died suddenly this week. I wrote the following for a forum where we were both active, and I’m sharing a version of it here too.

Frank was the first online friend I ever met in real life, in the fall of 1998 when I was a sophomore in college. We had communicated casually for months in a chat room devoted to movies on AOL, and on the day I got kicked out of the room for cursing, he IMed me and offered to pass my messages to the room until my timeout had expired. I had no idea that making profane comments about the Ohio State Buckeyes would lead to the most enduring, most important friendship of my life.

One of his favorite stories was about our first in-person meeting. We’d spent dozens of nights on the phone from sundown to sunrise, and finally decided to meet near campus for lunch. I realized when I met him that he could be a psycho killer and spent our entire meal in a state of fear so profound I could barely swallow my food. But my sense of self-preservation is such that when he offered me a ride to my dorm, I said yes, and got into the psycho killer’s car all alone.

I soon learned that he’d kick a dozen puppies, skin them, and cook them into some cayenne-heavy spicy-as-hell dinner before he’d ever hurt me.

Frank was into Batman because Batman had no superpowers. Batman just fucking did the right thing. Frank lived his life that way. He would hate me for saying this, he would try to argue me down, he would swear I was wrong and insist I had no basis for saying this, but his ass isn’t here to correct me and I’m going to tell you: he would step in front of a bus for the people he loved. He would sacrifice his comfort and safety to stand up for people who could not stand up for themselves. He would end a conversation, a relationship, or a job if his own ethics were compromised – and his ethics, I promise you, were stronger than any of ours.

He introduced me to Pulp Fiction, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Usual Suspects, This is Spinal Tap, and tons of other movies. He introduced me to Thai food and Aimee Mann. He was with me when I first visited Sears Tower and the Brookfield Zoo. When I suffered from clinical depression so severe that I nearly did not survive, much less finish my degree, he was there. When my sister nearly died in a car accident that claimed three other teenagers, he was there that night and through the long months ahead. He was always there.

We dated for a long time, and then we stopped. And then we dated again, and then I moved away. And then we dated again, long-distance, and then we stopped again. The distance seemed too great. Our obstacles seemed insurmountable. But I loved him from beside him, and I loved him from faraway. I always loved him. I love him still. The web that holds my soul is woven through and through with hundreds of his threads. There’s only one problem. The strongest thread of all, the one that tied me to him over the distance and the years and the obstacles, the one I thought would never break? That one snapped yesterday, and I’m having trouble staying tethered to anything right now.

He and I were equally sensitive, I think, but I mystified him because he had developed a nearly impenetrable skin and I had none at all. He told me often that if the world was a fight, I kept going in with both hands tied behind my back. He pushed me often to be stronger, to stand up for myself more, and I did it because of him. Everything about him was stronger than I will ever be, but I have the courage and the strength to write this because I loved him and he taught me to be just a little tougher.

I didn’t know how I was going to write this, but I knew I had to do it. I knew that he would want me to. He read my website and my prose and my shitty screenplays, and he always encouraged me to keep doing it. He swore I would be a published author one day, and he’d be pretty disappointed if I didn’t write about him for you here. I could keep writing this for paragraphs, for years. I could write until your eyes burn out from the strain of the reading. But he’d want me to stop here.

I will miss him for as long as I live.

8 Comments April 18, 2009

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