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Sealed with an X

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In the fifth year of marriage, I'd finally gotten the hang of identifying as "married" after never having envisioned that for myself. Now I find myself checking another box. It took a fraction of a second to create that X, yet the route that it signifies spanned almost 9 years. Sealed with an X.

The gossip on grief: Six months later

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 “People ask me how you’re doing,” my dad said on a walk one morning. “I tell them you’re doing surprisingly well.” As I nodded in agreement, my dad asked if it was a choice I’d made – to handle Ramón’s death well. I wasn’t really sure how to answer that question because I didn’t consciously decide, “Boy, this sucks, but I plan to handle it well.” Instead, my life has been a revolving door of grief, and, though it never gets easier, it becomes more familiar and less permanent, even in times of deep despair. My grief experience began at a young age when I started living with the anguish that cystic fibrosis would cut my life short. When I was a junior in high school, my first good friend with CF died. The day I moved into my college dorm freshman year, another friend died. Less than a year later, it happened again. On the subsequent go-round (Are you losing count?), I got to go say goodbye at the hospital. The next time was another hospital experience, though we didn’t arrive in time. F

nine years - five years - five months

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Nine years ago, to the day, I met this guy for our first date. Five years ago, to the day, I married this guy. Five months ago, to the day, I said my final goodbyes to this guy, thanking him for everything. If I could do it all over again, I would. Ramón made my life better in countless ways, and he often reminded me how lucky I was to have him. I balked at his remarks, but I knew they were true. Others might view today – and the coming holidays – with sadness for me, knowing things look vastly different. Though it’s true that life is unrecognizable this year, the past nine years (and counting) have affirmed Ramón’s viewpoint: I am pretty dang lucky. 

All is fair

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Last week, after checking my temperature, the dental hygienist led me to my exam room.  “How’s your husband doing?” she asked with the best of intentions. “He died,” I responded nonchalantly, voice as steady as can be. It’s impossible to know when the words will come out casually or when I’ll be caught off-guard – as though I’m the recipient of the news leaving my mouth. Grief is finicky like that.   Thanksgiving was the first big holiday without Ramón. The pandemic made things just unusual enough that his absence wasn’t as detectable as it might have been another year. However, based upon the quantity of leftovers, it was clear that Ramón and his appetite were missing. Despite the outrageous surplus of pumpkin pie, it was a good day.   I checked Ramón’s email today to see if anything important has trickled in, and I stumbled upon an email he sent while hospitalized in February. I am going to copy and paste a portion of it without editing anything, as much as that pains me. (Let’s just

Thank you for everything

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A friend gifted me this leather bracelet in August. She conspired to get a sample of Ramón’s handwriting, and my mom had a note from Ramón thanking my parents for everything they’d done to help us since his diagnosis. I first opened the bracelet the day we got back to Atlanta after scattering Ramón’s ashes in Michigan. Seeing his handwriting made me pause at first. It reminded me of when I went to clean out his office in August and saw notes to himself on his desk. When he wrapped up work that day in February, nobody had a clue that was the last time Ramón would wear his “judge outfit” (a term I used to be annoying) or the final time he would exit the building.  I used to incessantly tell Ramón he wrote like a serial killer. I haven’t been in many written exchanges with serial killers, but something about Ramón’s handwriting looked so calculated and methodical – like he had a strategy. And you know he usually did. Mr. Particular. I would often try to mimic his handwriting by adding biz

How am I doing?

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How am I doing? Well, I’m exploring new places through travel, music, and books. I’m sitting on hold with countless financial institutions and utility companies. I’m enjoying the cooler weather while walking the dogs, running, and sitting on porches. I’m partaking in adult-like phone calls and signing documents, much to my dismay. I’m doing freelance work and napping when inspired. I’m enthusiastically watching baseball and miserably watching football. I’m catching up on appointments I’ve neglected since Ramón’s diagnosis in May 2019. I’m snacking on Starbursts and seaweed (separately).  I’m routinely looking up at the sky and the clouds, admiring the beauty of it all. I’m wearing comfy sweatpants, festive shoes, and even a bona fide smile. I’m draped in acts of love and kindness from people and animals alike. I’m constantly wishing I had the bandwidth to thank everyone who has said, done, or sent something thoughtful. I’m reminiscing about the last nine years and channeling my energy

Always a rainbow

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When home between hospitalizations in late March, I heard a song that  resonated with me. As my anxiety about COVID-19 a nd transplant steadily escalated, I kept wondering why life couldn’t be easier. The song, “Rainbow” by Kacey Musgraves, is about believing things will improve despite the storms that enter your life. In those unnerving days of vulnerability and despair, the lyrics reminded me that, though my feelings were entirely valid, they were also transient. When it rains, it pours, but you didn't even notice It ain't rainin' anymore, it's hard to breathe when all you know is The struggle of staying above the rising water line Well, the sky is finally open, the rain and wind stopped blowin' But you're stuck out in the same ol' storm again You hold tight to your umbrella, well, darlin' I'm just tryin' to tell ya That there's always been a rainbow hangin' over your head I listened to the song many more times that night, sometimes wit

Befores and afters

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A few weeks ago, two of my long-time cohorts stopped by to enjoy drinks and conversation – and bring dinner (Yum!). My friend Amanda helped me and Ramón buy our house in 2018, and we were reminiscing about how painfully easy we were as clients in that we had no real must-haves or dealbreakers. When looking at houses, Amanda suggested we narrow our search, but Ramón and I insisted we’d be happy anywhere as long as we were together. This was a far cry from every buyer on HGTV; somebody’s usually demanding a house with a dedicated hot yoga space while the other is hellbent on finding a kitchen that cooks meals by itself. Ramón was in Michigan visiting family when Amanda and I decided on a home. To my surprise, the house that interested me the most needed a lot of work. I remember getting Ramón on the phone and telling him that it was going to be quite a project, to which he responded, “Okay, let’s do it.” And we did. In our short stint there, we renovated the entire interior and planned t

An August of opportunity

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Though I’ve been writing regularly, I haven’t posted much lately. This is mostly for good reason. For example, my friend Elaine came back into town over the weekend, and we had a bit of a staycation at a lovely Airbnb in Midtown Atlanta. I did some normal-people things such as enter a grocery store (masked) for the first time since February. I even got in a swimming pool, enjoyed a comedy show at an amphitheater, and paddle-boarded on a lake. Watch out, world; the Drewdle is loose! So, what are my days looking like lately? Well, for one, it’s crazy not being confined to a hospital room: something I realize was a luxury in terms of the virus, yet it was also torturous because all I wanted to do was fix a completely irreparable situation. Since most of my time spent at the hospital resulted from my aggressive legal speak (#judgewifelife), I was never able to leave Ramón’s room when I was there due to visitor restrictions. Practically speaking, I was in solitary confinement, handcuffed by

One week

It’s been one week since we said goodbye to Ramón, and it’s been more than 14 weeks since I said farewell to the version of Ramón I’d known since December 2011. In many ways, I’ve been grieving since April, but the sorrow has taken a different shape now, knowing that the possibility of recovery no longer remains. At times, this materializes as feelings of relief, since the clarity for which I’d longed has arrived and is indisputable. However, other times I miss the ambiguity of where we were because it included space for potential and opportunity. And hope. Although the past week has been heavy, it’s also been magically light due to the outpouring of love. I’ve connected with friends from many walks of life, I’ve heard from people whose lives were better off because of Ramón, and I’ve even linked up with strangers who happened upon my posts online. Despite the irrefutable absence that unexpectedly reveals itself throughout the days, the moments have been woven together by undeniable fe