Can’t Cook

oreos

(Nancy Rodrigo)

The oreos were screaming at me
from the aisle at Publix
Your favorite cookies
I kept seeing them
around every corner
as if they were the ghost
of you

Knowing I will never
cook for you again
is sometimes too much
you thanked me for every meal
even a frozen dinner

I can’t cook
for one
food doesn’t taste good

Can’t eat
what I used to
or buy the foods
you liked

Why don’t you appear
in the aisle
why don’t you
visit me
I hear stories of other deceased spouses
visiting their wives
Why not me?

I hear you in the chimes
on the back porch
in the TV that went on
in the hotel room
in the middle of the night
in the traffic, sometimes
I was never good at directions

I don’t even have an old
voicemail message
to listen to
we preferred to text

so much silence
so much left unsaid

I can’t cook, and
I don’t want to

 

*Artwork by Nancy Rodrigo.

New York-born artist Nancy Rodrigo uses her life experiences as a medium. “The media and content have changed and evolve to reflect my experiences. I see art as a means of expression and a therapeutic process.” She began her art career in 1981 under the name Nancy Weinstock, exhibiting in the East Village, Soho, Chelsea and Brooklyn. Her recent work of rich, colorful biomorphic paintings‒with vaginal imagery‒influenced by the Feminist Art Movement, including initiators Judy Chicago, Nancy Spero and Miriam Schapiro. In the 90’s she  did a series of works on canvas and mixed media constructions, the “Collective Memory Series.” These intricate pieces are constructed from found objects, organic and synthetic materials, paints and old photographs. Another project she is working on is the “Subway Series” hundreds of pen and ink portraits of people riding the NYC subways, all done without the rider’s knowledge and capturing most of the portrait in under 10 minutes.  This project has been a love letter to my city and her amazing people. Rodrigo’s work is diverse, expressive, and she is very prolific.

I’m a Stranger Here Myself

Years ago, I did a cabaret show that included the Kurt Weill song, “I’m a Stranger Here Myself.” If ever those words rang true, it is now.

I feel like an alien, a zombie (not that I know what a zombie actually does or does not feel).

If I hear “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” one more time in a shopping mall, I will go postal. Yes, I have done all my Christmas shopping and have wrapped most of the gifts. “Fake it till you make it,” as someone said.

The world feels like a dangerous place, a place that offers no security now that my security blanket is gone. Yes, Lorin was my only security blanket in an unpredictable and often cruel world.

I started a list of “Things I Miss About Lorin,” which includes:

(1) How he told me, “I love you,” several times a day and always insisted on a hug before he departed for work.

(2) How he would grab me and start dancing with me in the kitchen while I was cooking and not let me go.

(3) His telling me, “All I need is the love of the Sweetie.” One of his nicknames for me was “Sweetie.”

I’ve come to the realization that no one needs me anymore, except, perhaps, my mom. Lorin needed me. It was good to be needed. It was good to be co-dependent, if that’s what it was. I don’t care. It worked for us, and we were happy.

I haven’t been able to cook or bake since Lorin died. He was grateful for all the meals I prepared for him and even bragged to his co-workers about the lunches I prepared for him. I made extra Christmas cookies so he could have his own tin. He thanked me for every meal, every cookie, even a frozen dinner. I miss having him to cook for, and how grateful he was for every culinary offering.

I made a spontaneous decision to go to New York this weekend to visit my mom and Lorin’s grandmother on Long Island since I won’t be able to see them for Christmas. I need to connect with people who need me (Mom) and loved Lorin (his grandmother). It makes me feel closer to him. I also have a keen sense of my mortality right now. Why wait?

In the evening, I light candles in the living room and in our bedroom, hoping he’ll see them.

This afternoon, I talked to a couple of turtles at the marsh, and asked if they had seen Lorin. No reply.

I said, “Well, if you do, tell him to come and see me.”

Lorin loved animals, turtles included. He said he wanted to die in Savannah. I wish he had lived here too.

The Week of Living Dangerously

img_1134

(Samson)

Highlights of my week:

(1) called the coroner’s office, cremation site and others to find out what happened to Lorin’s wedding ring, watch and other jewelry. Turns out after numerous calls, that his jewelry appears to have been cremated along with him. Who does that? I have had to let this go. Won’t bring him back.

(2) got into a fender bender in the Walmart parking lot (I backed up into a woman’s car). I didn’t realize I had even hit her car (kind of dazed and confused lately), but she chased me down the road, honking and taking a photo of my license plate. I pulled over and we entered a small park where she let me know what had transpired. I looked at her fender, and could barely see anything. Am I going blind too? She was going through a difficult time (health issue), and she said, “I know my husband would be mad at me if I didn’t call the police . . . “. So she called the police, and a really cool female police officer (originally from Montana) took a report and the lady and I exchanged information. I told the lady about my situation and we ended up hugging before we parted ways.

It still felt totally ridiculous to me–I had to fill out a report online with Geico over something so trivial.

I have been feeling lately like I wish someone would run me down with their vehicle to put an end to this pain.

(3) Yesterday I took a drive to Tybee Island (one of Lorin’s and my favorite places), and took a long walk on the beach and got a hot dog and iced tea. On the way home, I got pulled over by a Tybee Island police officer.

He said, “Ma’am, did you know your right brake light is out?”

“No, I didn’t,” I said.

I handed him my registration, insurance card and temporary Georgia license. He spent a long time in his car mulling over my paperwork. He gave me a “caution” and said to please get the light fixed promptly.

Lorin and I had the right brake light “fixed” over a dozen times, but it never took. I even asked my mother-in-law’s husband to check the light when I got home. He followed me in his car and said it worked fine at times, then got faint. He also checked the light bulb and said it was fine. It might be the connection, but at this point, I think it’s unfixable and don’t want to purchase a new car at the moment.

(3) Good Stuff: My contractor buddies helped me set up some furniture in the condo and came by today to put up the panel curtains I bought for the porch (sliding glass doors open onto screened-in porch.). They are such good guys and they have done beautiful work in my new home.

(4) Last night I watched “The Invisible Man” (1933) with Claude Rains on TCM. It’s much funnier than I ever thought–the lady who runs the boarding house is a riot.

(5) Samson is my constant companion. He gives me a rather indignant look whenever I leave the house. We are considering adopting a kitten (not till after the holidays, of course).

(6) Last night I also decided that widowhood can make you think in ways you never thought you would. I was fantasizing about scoring some heroin and finding someone to have random sex with. Why not?

(7) Today I tried to close down Lorin’s Facebook account, and while doing so, found numerous articles on google about the car accident. I read one of the articles and saw the shattered car window on the driver’s side, and once again, saw Lorin lying on the earth dead. Realizing he probably flew through that window. Why did I have to see that? I can’t undo having seen it.

Nothing, I mean, nothing, makes sense to me anymore.

Oh, that, and Trump is now our president.

Loss

I have not been on word press for the past several weeks due to an unforeseen tragedy.

My husband Lorin and I and our five cats were driving to Savannah, Georgia on September 28 with a loaded car, ready to start a new life, to escape the rat race of New York / New Jersey. The movers were at the house from 1 p.m. till around 7 p.m. We started the drive at around 7:20 p.m.

We drove through the night without sleep, enduring a torrential rain storm, unscathed. By seven a.m. Thursday, September 29, we were both bleary and falling asleep; Lorin at the wheel. I begged him to pull over, but he said we only had 70 miles left to go and we would be in Savannah in an hour.

At some point we both must have dozed off. I opened my eyes to see a silver oil tanker truck directly in front of us–seemed like inches away. I screamed for Lorin to veer off to the left side. He did so, and our car rolled and tumbled violently down a grassy hill. When the car came to a full stop, I pried open the passenger door and ran out. Lorin was lying in front of the car, his right leg bent slightly up, left cheek pressed to the earth, blood pouring from his ear and mouth. I screamed for help, crying hysterically.

A nurse who must have witnessed the accident came running out of her car to help. She checked his vitals and tried to revive him, but it was too late. Tears streamed down her face. She said, “I’m so sorry. He’s gone.”

I begged her to revive him, to help him. I begged Lorin not to leave me.

Our belongings were scattered on the grassy area and all over the road. It looked like a plane crash. Only two of our cats, Sylvester and Bernie, were in view. They were struggling to get up, but could not move. I didn’t see the others.

An EMT escorted me to an ambulance, saying I needed to go with him. He asked to take my blood pressure, but I refused. I asked him to please help my husband.

He asked if there was anyone I needed to call and asked where I kept my phone. It was not in my purse. I said it was in my purse. He gave me his phone so I could call family members, first Lorin’s mother who lives in Savannah. I was terrified she would be angry with me and wish I was dead instead of Lorin. I felt the same way when I called his grandmother on Long Island, but got her voicemail, asking her to call me back, but not conveying the news. I asked if someone could help my cats, and the EMT said animal control was on its way and he later gave me their card. Through the window of the ambulance, I saw someone placing a pale blue blanket over Lorin.

“Where are they taking him?” I said.

The EMT said he didn’t know.

I called my father and my best friend Nancy, asking her to please tell my other friends.

I was taken to a hospital in Colleton County, South Carolina and seen by a nurse, social worker and physician. I asked about my cats. The social worker told me that two had died at the scene, and three were taken to the vet. Quincy and Bernie died at the scene. Karl and Sylvester went to the vet; Sylvester was undergoing surgery. Both Karl and Sylvester died.

The nurse gave me two Ativan and the doctor gave me a 10 day prescription of the same.

The social worker returned to my bed saying that one of my cats survived unharmed–Samson. They brought him to me at the hospital.

I don’t remember anything after that. I don’t remember going to my mother-in-law’s home in Savannah or who drove us.

My stepmother came to Savannah two days later to provide support and assistance.

I am so torn up inside, trying to get through each hour and each day the best I can.