The pandemic hit sometime in February and now it’s the end of June. I feel like it’s been a day and an eternity. What’s really strange is that I feel this way about everything since you died, Andrew. Living without you right here with us, bothering us, making us laugh, filling the spaces with your warm solid frame, smelling you near me and not hearing your laughter is a maddening and eternal pain that no one wants to keep hearing me talk about. It’s not that they don’t care it’s that they don’t know and those who know understand on a level that words aren’t necessary. I miss you. I miss you every single second of every single day and although I know I’m not going crazy I know I’ve gone crazy.
Lately I feel
That I can’t pretend
I may never ever see
The likes of you again
I take a walk, I come back home
Then I sit a spell
Watch the ponies dance around
The empty wishing well.
Way back then by John Prine
“Watch the ponies dance around the empty wishing well” just about sums it all up. I’m just waiting. Waiting for this year to be over. Waiting for tonight. Waiting till it ends.
What the actual fuck. How could things get any worse? Here’s how. You died. Then Alec died a little and I can’t stand watching that. Then Papi had a stroke a year after you died and I can’t stand watching that. Then this pandemic hits 2 years after you died and I can’t stand watching this. I can’t even write. I got nothing right now. I’m just waiting.
I remember everything, Andrew. I’m just waiting. I’m just watching the ponies dance around the empty wishing well.
I’ve been dying recently but not like 6 months ago or even close to the way I died 2 years ago on May 25th but I’m dying recently in a bad way. Last year on May 25th I wanted to scream like I normally do and I did scream like I normally do but I knew that wouldn’t be enough because it does nothing but hurt my throat. Not only is my heart ripped into shreds but now my throat hurts too and somehow, I can’t stop screaming even though I know it’s useless. It doesn’t bring you back. Nothing does and every day I know this and I die in that thought every day. I’ve been dying recently because the 25th is upon me again and it seems like you died yesterday but also 1,000 years ago. It shouldn’t matter that it’s the 25th of May. I mean what the hell is that but a number on a calendar that humans invented to secure a time in space but honestly it’s nothing and it’s everything. I think only a mother who has lost a child can truly comprehend the fact that time is a myth. It’s forever all the time. I loved you and Alec before I was even born so I know I will love you both long after I die because we know the truth. But the 25th is almost here and I find it impossible to be still on that day and this bothers me because every day is November 6 or November 28 and every day is May 25. Everything I feel is wrapped up in those 3 dates but I feel the love and the sorrow the same every day and I miss you. I’m dying recently. I think it’s worse this year but outwardly it doesn’t seem to be because I’ve gotten so good at hiding my daily dying.
How could I not be good at hiding it. I’ve been dying every day since my mom died in 1971 and I was just 3 and a half. That picture of us is the last family picture taken of us and your uncle Hugo is in it but he’s the photographer so we actually are getting a glimpse of how he sees things so in essence we are Hugo in the picture. Trippy isn’t it. I wonder if it was 3:33 when this picture was taken or maybe my mom died at 3:33 AM. I don’t know but I do know that it’s her who wakes me up at 3:33 in the morning and she has been doing that as long as I can remember and I know it’s her. I feel her there even though I don’t remember what she felt like but it’s her. I know she can feel me dying now like never before and last night must have been really bad because this morning out of a deep deep sleep I sat straight up at 3:33 and I was clear headed looking at the clock because I know that feeling when she’s there and sure enough it’s 3:33 again. I’m not saying this lightly. I know it. I know why she was there too. I’ve been struggling about where I will spend the day on the 25th because part of me wants to be in bed all day and not get up once and I just don’t know if I can find the strength to get up and do what I know I’m supposed to do. At 3:33 AM today I knew exactly what the message was. I saw water and I knew.
That picture was taken at the beach in Venezuela when we lived there for a few years. Papi would take us to the beach on the weekends and I know it was the happiest times in our lives because I remember snippets but this picture tells the story. Papi smiling like that. My mom laughing like that. Gabriel and his joking around with that million dollar smile. Juan and Santi all serious as usual and there I am analyzing. Calculating the looks on their faces and taking it all in. Near the water where I’ve always felt like that is home. I still feel the same way and I know Andrew felt the same way about the water too. Maybe the way I am looking at my mom and dad was foreshadowing of something I already knew was coming so I took it all in as much as I could. Maybe. I don’t know for sure but I know Andrew was the same. Took everything in. Everything. Maybe he knew. Maybe we both have that fire in our hearts.
Last year on the 25th I took us to the water. To feel closer to home. To be where you loved to be. To honor you. But this year has been beyond complicated with the Covid pandemic and everyone has gone crazy so my grief is now compounded with additional emotions of uncertainty and disbelief that people can’t see how silly they are worrying about who’s fault this is and upset about wearing masks. People don’t get it. We are being handed an opportunity to love deeper and instead many are worrying about “rights”. I don’t have room for anymore pain. I’m dying recently. There’s something in my heart and it feels like fire. There is a yearning in the water and it feels like home. Take me down, take me down to the water.
That’s where I’ll be with you Andrew. My first baby. *My second mama* (pats my head the way he used to)
You were ready for Covid-19, Andrew. Of course you were. I know it. Alec knows it. Everybody who knew you knows it. Hardest thing during this pandemic is the fact that you’re not here to make sure we are all going to be ok. So strange. To want you here for a pandemic that nobody wants to have around. It’s just no fun without you. Even being worried is no fun without you. So crazy to think that I miss you during such a crisis that I wouldn’t want you to go through! It is insanity that I feel this way and I know it but no one is sane right now anyhow so what now. What the actual fuck now.
Katie texted and said she went into the attic at the condo to look for a table or something and saw some heavy duty plastic containers up there so she looked inside. She said there was food, water, some pills in packets the blankets and other stuff. She said she knew right away they were yours. Your family survival kits. Each person had enough for weeks of survival. I forgot to look in the attic before we left the condo. I honestly thought the boxes were still in Maryland but then I kept thinking that you had them for the hurricane down here in ’17 and I’m all mixed up.
I have no joy right now. Of course I don’t. Duh. I can’t paint my rocks these days. I can’t write these days. I can’t sleep these days. I can’t move these days. I’m exhausted. I can’t sleep and I am not awake. Alec misses you and it’s coming out as anger and rejection. He rejects everything and I don’t know if it will get better. I have no clue about anything right now and I am pretty sure I never did and I don’t believe I ever will. Whatever.
You can prepare for a catastrophic event. You can never prepare for the death of your child. I can’t sleep anymore. I see you everywhere, Andrew. I just miss you and your sense of wonder. Your laugh. Your “mom. YOLO”. I can’t sleep anymore. I’m not YOLOing right now. At all.
I don’t know for sure but I think I’m supposed to go pick up your boxes. Maybe there’s something there we need. Maybe there will be a reason to smile in there. Maybe there will be a good ole Andrew prank in there. There may be a little YOLOing in there that I need to see. Maybe.
It’s just one of those weeks I guess. I got nothing but grief right now.
“It’s a pretty good crowd for a Saturday And the manager gives me a smile ‘Cause he knows that it’s me they’ve been comin’ to see To forget about life for a while And the piano, it sounds like a carnival And the microphone smells like a beer And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar And say, “Man, what are you doin’ here?”
~ Billy Joel
There are no coincidences. Ever.
How did Nate, a guy who I had never previously met and had only known Andrew for a short while before he died, know that the Piano Man was the perfect song for the video he made for Andrew’s celebration of life? He didn’t. He didn’t know how that song was interwoven into the fabric of my life since high school and how I had told my boys about the way it changed my life because my 11th grade english teacher used it in our class to teach us about similies, hyperboles and metaphors but what I got out of it was that life can be interpreted beautifully through lyrics and music. Nate knew nothing of this. He felt it. Because the universe leaves nothing up to a mere coincidence. Not one single damn thing. Not birth. Not death. Not a second of the journey in between.
I’ll admit it. At first when I heard the song choice Nate had made for Andrew’s video I was upset. Mad upset. Not sad upset. Why The Piano Man, Nate?! I put the thought away. I couldn’t handle the reality of it just yet. I spent the next year and a half avoiding the thought, emotions, message, everything…and every time I heard it come on the radio…switch. Immediately. Nope. Not yet. I’ll let you know when I’m ready.
Here’s the deal. It took me a year and a half from the day Andrew died to admit that, yes, yup…Andrew was the Piano Man. It’s true.
I miss you, Andrew. The day you were born my hospital room filled up with people. All your aunts and uncles, cousins, your grandparents, great-grandmother, my friends and it seems as though you were the talk of the floor because random nurses would come in to “see this baby we keep hearing about!”.
Looking back, that was your spirit. You attracted and welcomed everyone into your life regardless of anything that others may have perceived as “unsavory” or “negative”. It was incredible and I’m sure frustrating to your brother, Alec. Don’t get me wrong, Alec is an introvert by nature so it’s not the attention you got that frustrated him. He was frustrated by your nonstop talking and activity level! But Alec couldn’t be without you and he really did become the voice to so much of your joking around that you two became quite the pair. You got Andrew AND Alec. Always. It worked out beautifully. What a pair. What a blast.
As you got older and the two of you went separate ways for your studies I saw it even clearer. You would come home from any class you took or job you had and you would tell me stories of the people you met or have become friends with. You never judged. You were truthful but without judgement. You always found a way to see the good in others. It was you they were coming to see. It was you.
Did I ever tell you about “foreshadowing”? I learned about that in college in a film class. I probably did tell you. Foreshadowing is a technique used in movies where the director gives you a clue in the beginning, or a chapter, of the film as to what will happen but it’s not meant to be understood. It’s meant to create an expectation and in the end, as you look back on the movie, you will be able to say “oh yeah! I get it”.
Foreshadowing is not just a thing used in films. It’s everywhere and the universe always prepares us for the ending. We just don’t know it until later.
I heard the Piano Man in 11th grade. That song touched me in ways I’ve never been able to express to anyone properly. It told me everything about you. I just didn’t know it was going to be you. Oh Andrew…it was you.
“Son, can you play me a memory I’m not really sure how it goes But it’s sad and it’s sweet and I knew it complete When I wore a younger man’s clothes”
I found Nate’s number the other day and finally asked him why he chose the Piano Man. This was part of his response:
“When I listen to it –the piano man is this guy who is helping to bring some joy and happiness around to other people” he went on to say, “When I met Andrew even though it was only for a little bit he was super friendly and I kind of just got the feeling that he was someone who touched a lot of lives”
He did. He still does. I still get messages from his friends telling me how thinking about what Andrew would have said or let them talk about with him has helped them going through something difficult at the moment…and it’s him who they’re coming to see….still. And he’s there for them. As usual.
“Sing us a song, you’re the piano man Sing us a song tonight Well, we’re all in the mood for a melody And you’ve got us feelin’ alright”
I won’t change the station anymore when that song comes on. I’ll cry and let the emotions carry me towards you. My first baby. (My second mama)
“When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home”
I normally wake up in shock and scared and it’s usually 4 or 5 AM when it happens. This blog is going to be a diary of sorts. I’m going to try and write down these conversations I have with myself every day since my Andrew died. It’s my grief voice doing it’s grief talks. We’ll see where this goes…
That poem was Andrew’s favorite poem and he truly lived in such a way that the fear of death never entered his heart. He lived that way since day one. The poem found him much later and he really felt a homecoming when he soaked it all in.
My first baby. (My second Mama)*
*Things I write in parentheses are things Andrew would actually say to me and I still hear him saying them.