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Filtering by Tag: Patton Oswalt

THOUGHTS

Cindy Maddera

I have some thoughts on some things from lately, but I don't really feel like writing about them. Some of those thoughts have to do with Okja, the new Joon-ho Bong movie on Netflix. This is not for kids. I love and hate this movie all at the same time. It is an important commentary on corporate food production and it is at times exciting and sweet and bitterly heartbreaking. It does have a happy ending, but dear lord, the things you have to see before the happy ending. There's a scene with Jake Gyllenhaal that makes me truly hate him. Not just his character, but him as an actor for playing that character. Joon-ho Bong has a talent for creating beautiful stories full of bittersweetness. Michael has been seriously questioning his pork eating habits. He's been reading and has discovered that pigs are smarter than dogs. This movie may have closed the deal for him. 

I've also been thinking about all the negative comments left on Patton Oswalt's engagement announcement. People talking about how fifteen months is just too soon for a widower to move on with their lives. These are the kind of people who have no idea. They are the type to say "I just can't image." in response to your tragedy. Every time someone would say that to me, it would take all of my willpower to not snap back with "I hope you never have to imagine." I mean really. Who sits around and imagines what life would be like if the person you thought you were going to spend the rest of your life with just up and dies? The people leaving those comments are just thoughtless. Michael moved in eighteen months after Chris died. I love Michael but there is not a single day where I don't think about Chris or remember something about our life together. I could go into a long, drawn out tirade over the whole thing if I didn't think I was preaching to the choir. 

The other night, Michael and I decided to buy an Amazon Echo. I've been thinking about this for some time. There really is no need for an Echo. It would just be fun and I have plans for the Echo. I think I can tell the Echo where I've put important things, like pictures and documents and teeth. The Cabbage lost a tooth at our house not too long ago. We had to play tooth fairy and Michael wanted to keep her tooth. We put it in an elephant creamer in the china cabinet. I really like the idea of saying "Hey, Alexa? Where did I put that human tooth?" and then hearing Alexa respond with something like "You placed the human tooth in the elephant creamer." Most likely I will just be asking Alexa to play that funky music all the time. Michael is slightly concerned that we are willingly setting up a spy in our home. I rolled my eyes at this and said the spies are already in our home because of our phones. 

The scale at work says that I've lost ten pounds. The scale at home has me holding steady at 174, meaning I've only lost six pounds. I like the scale at work a whole lot more than the home scale. I have not tracked my calories in two months. I'm moving faster in my workouts. I'm eating cottage cheese for breakfast and Greek yogurt for a mid-afternoon snack. I am trying to care less. This post has gone from tragic to comic. You can thank Nora Roberts. She was on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me on Saturday. When asked about writer's block she said "I don't believe in it." She said that you just kept writing even if what you were writing was total crap because as soon as you stopped writing, you broke the habit. Then you're screwed. I'm paraphrasing but not by much. 

Any way this is why you're getting a weird post about depressing movies and where I hide human remains. 

GRUMBLE GRUMBLE

Cindy Maddera

Remember that skirt I told you about with the elephants all over it and how I had to send it back and get a bigger size? That skirt showed up yesterday and it was even smaller than the first skirt. It was also a different material than the first skirt. I was just starting to feel pretty good about this body. My pants fit me, pants I've had for three or four years. In yoga class on Saturday, I felt positively svelte and popped up into headstand like I had made that pose my bitch. Sure, I've had a thing for melty cheese the last couple of days, but who doesn't when it is cold and snowing. When I tried that skirt on last night, I felt like a fatty fat fat. I tugged the zipper up as far as I could and then cried "what is wrong with me?!?!?" because of course my first thought was that the company had not made a mistake. My first thought was that I had gained even more weight since ordering that skirt. Then I thought "how is that even possible if my clothes still fit?" I laid awake last night thinking about foods I will stop eating and vowing to ride my bicycle to work as soon as the weather allows. 

I sent that skirt back this morning, slapping the free shipping label onto the box with disgust. Then I looked outside and it was snowing and I hated all things. Except cheese. I am a prickly pear and it took me half the morning to figure out the real reason besides hormones for the my prickly pear syndrome. It is March 14th, the day before the Ides of March, the day Chris and I got married because it was Spring Break. We would have been married nineteen years today. The prickly pear syndrome comes from not wanting to remember or acknowledge that I would have been married for nineteen years. It is symptom of trying hard not to acknowledge a past life because I have moved on to a different one. 

Last week, I caught the tail end of an interview on NPR with Patton Oswalt. At the end of the interview he said "You know, you can say you're through with grief all you want, but grief will let you know when it's done." I wanted to tell him that it will never be done. You're going to think it is done. You haven't felt any twinges or leaky eyes in a while. You actually feel happy about your present life and then out of nowhere grief steps up and taps you on the shoulder. "Hey let's dance some more. I'm not done yet!" That's when grief turns into that crazy drunk guy you can't shake at the club. He may be kind of cute, but you're not interested and you're tired and ready to go home for the night. Yet, you are too polite to say no. You follow him back out onto the dance floor and think about ways to ditch him when he's not paying attention. You are not having any fun. 

Dates, numbers. They are too significant at times. Maybe if I focus on the irritating fact that I am sending a skirt back for the second time because it is too small, I won't notice what day it is. If I complain and gripe about how it is snowing in March (it is still winter, I don't know why I am complaining) I won't think about how our original plan was to get married on the fifteenth of March until we remembered Shakespeare and moved it up a day. If I spend enough time focused on criticizing my weight, I won't feel grief tapping on my shoulder trying to drag me back to that dance floor.

It has been five years. My feet hurt and I'm tired of dancing.  

 

IN RESPONSE

Cindy Maddera

A few days ago, Patton Oswalt posted a letter to grief on his facebook page. Those of us who have experienced the sudden (or almost sudden) loss of a spouse who read through his letter all nodded our heads with knowing and agreement. Many people have written to offer words of advice and encouragement. Yet, I hesitate. I don't have time to compile my own thoughts on this topic. Work is crazy busy right now and I leave for a conference in Boston at five AM tomorrow. I am tired of compiling my own thoughts on this topic. I write about grief too often and when I do, people start asking me about my mental health. Writing about grief is therapeutic as long as you're not letting the whole world wide web read it. Some of the time. 

The real reason I haven't thrown my words in for Mr Oswalt is that I am slightly annoyed that I have some words of wisdom or advice, even if unsolicited. Grief is not something anyone wants to be knowledgable about. It is not something you put on your resume. It's not something anyone wants to read on your dating profile on Match. It is knowledge that makes other people uncomfortable. Except, grief is something I know and I'm sitting over here biting my tongue trying not to add my two cents. For one thing, Patton Oswalt doesn't even read this blog and another thing, it puts me back into that genre of being a grief writer. Like that's my niche. I'm really good at writing about something really sad. Again...not something I would want to put on my resume. Despite all of that it looks like I am about to throw my two cents in here anyway. 

Dear Patton Oswalt,

Grief is going to be with you now for probably forever. I know some people have told you that it gets better or that you will find a way to move on. Those are very nice words with well meaning intentions. I wouldn't actually say they are lies, but they are more like half truths because even when you've gotten out of the crawling stage and back into walking and being a "normal" member of society, grief is still going to be with you. It will be laying just under your skin waiting for the most ridiculous moment to fester up and out, hitting you with an intense shock of pain and loss. I'm sorry. I'd love to sugar coat it for you and tell you that this is not the case, and maybe it won't be for you, but in my experience, it happens all the time. It usually waits until you're having a really good day as a reminder that your life totally went to shit at some point. You do not move on either. This is not a bad breakup or divorce. This is not a sudden job loss. You lost the person you chose to spend the rest of your life with. You do not simply move on from that. Of course, you are going to crave human interaction at some point. Sex is great! You're going to miss that and want to find a person to do that with, but it will not be "moving on". It will just be something different from what you had.

That part about those half truths that is the truth is that you get better. You get better at handling the grief. You get better at living with the grief. You find a way to cope with always having that layer of grief hiding just under the surface. Sometimes I think of it as something almost symbiotic. Some days that symbiotic relationship with grief is going to feel like a parasite and some days you're hardly going to know it's there. It just becomes part of your life. It doesn't mean that you can no longer experience joy or happiness. It just means that those moments of joy and happiness now have become really really important. You are now part of the club whose members know that every moment matters, every day is important. Life will be a bit more bitter sweet for you and at times those bitter sweet moments will cause a great rage to ignite in your belly. Rage. Let yourself be really stupid mad for about five minutes, then take a deep breath and enjoy the moment. Learn to make friends with grief or at least get along with it, because it's going to be with you for a long time.

And as far as moving on? Well, I want you to get the notion of moving on completely out of your head. You will not move on, but you will move forward. You're life will continue. Days and weeks and years will pass. All along the way you will hold onto the knowledge that you had someone really special in your life and how lucky you are for that. As you continue to watch your child grow and maybe even find new love, Michelle will never leave you. She too just becomes part of who you are now. I'm not going to lie. It sucks. Even now, when I'm happy and have someone in my life I love, it sucks. It's always going to suck just a little bit. Remember the whole bitter sweet thing. 

I wish you the best of luck in finding your way through all of it.

Sincerely,

Cindy Maddera