Most of those following me know that my life has been a real life version of A Series of Unfortunate Events. That’s Layla’s latest comparison of our life these last few years. Brian and I separated in 2016. That same year he told me he was dying and gave me his will and medical directive. The last four years have been harsh and painful. We wore smiles for those around us, especially the girls, though not convincingly, I don’t think. We made a lot of inappropriate death and dark humor jokes (okay that was actually just us and not the situation). Still, we made it work. Ish. Mostly Brian made it work. I didn’t believe he was dying. He always said I lived on a Piscean cloud where my reality was what I wanted in those times when it was just unbearable. We had him tested for every cancer and disease. Every test was negative. The final test was for his heart. The doctor’s office cancelled it the day before his first heart attack. So close. We were so close.
Brian never wavered in his knowing that he was in the final chapter. I didn’t realise how prepared he was to die until he was gone. I had spent the last year in Finland, unable to return stateside after a travel ban was issued by Finland. When Brian picked me up from Hartsfield-Jackson upon my return, he said, “Tag, you’re it. You got this, Kim. You can do this. I can go now.” He would die three weeks later.
Tag you’re it was a whole ass parenting mode for us with the girls. When one parent was stressed and ready to tap out, we did. The other parent was tagged while the stressed parent took a time out. It wasn’t meant to be permanent. I’m not sure I got this. I laughed, a manic sort of shaky laugh, at his words. Was this fucker serious? He was. I told him it didn’t work without him. I watched him spazz over every unfinished thing in his life for those three weeks. The kitchen sink needed to be sealed. The trim I hadn’t painted in the apartment the year before needed to be finished. I watched as he darted all over the apartment half mending things before moving onto other things. He did shots of Jack at 11 a.m., which at the time, I thought irresponsible. He even asked for frybread, which he hadn’t wanted to try once in our nearly fifteen years together. I begged him to consider moving away from Alpharetta. He only smiled. I said, “You’re never leaving Alpharetta are you”? He shook his head.
I’ve never witnessed anything more courageous than seeing a man know death was closing in and yet, he still managed to laugh, to joke, and to live. None of us were prepared. Though he’d been steadily trying to prepare me for the last four years, I didn’t believe it. He seemed too full of life to be nearing its end. That takes courage. Even the doctors said he was okay. How difficult that must have been to have that knowledge and yet put on a smile day every day. I never saw him cry or get angry about it. I can look back now and see that those emotions were there but channeled in various ways.
After Brian’s death, the vultures the girls and I had counted as friends and family descended, wanting our material possessions and money. Some gracious soul even reported me to CPS for child abuse. Two weeks after Brian’s death CPS arrived on a Sunday intending to arrest me and Layla. Ah, America. Another lovely being stole my daughter’s personal documents from our residence preventing us from obtaining her passport for a few months and making CPS hide and seek an exhilarating post traumatic boss level in this game of life. We left everything in Atlanta and ran. (Thanks, you fuck of a cunt.) Others demanded an autopsy because surely I had come from Finland and killed my husband. Surely. And surely, he wasn’t gay…. I mean…. “can you believe this shit” (this bitch wrote?) Believe it, bitch. Thanks, cunts. I saw a side of people I hadn’t expected. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Even the funeral home fucked us over. Brian’s death was a feeding frenzy for the most depraved people. Yes, I’m mad as fuck.
We’re safe now. After months of bullshit from others and being targets for greedy fucks, we’re safe. Now, some three months after Brian’s death, we can actually begin the grieving process. It still doesn’t seem real. I miss him so much. This is killing me. I look at Layla and I have no words of comfort to offer.
I don’t got this, Brian. I just don’t. But I’m trying. I am. I keep in touch with Larry. He’s awesome and I jokingly tell him he’s going to be my next gay husband. He took your favorite hat and your colognes. He really misses you. He was right there for me and Layla through everything. I know you wanted us to stay in Alpharetta but that didn’t work out thanks to the whole CPS thing. (You fucking soulless, heartless sewer scum…how the fuck can you do that to a child who just lost her father? Fuck but I wish you the worst life and death. I really fucking mean that. Just die impaled upon your loathsome, bottom feeding, cuntfuckery). Instead, we found a place far away from everyone. We cut out so many people from our lives. We’re now in Bear medicine. Appropriate don’t you think? Also, I finally went full Apple. You bastard. Layla went ice skating and has started sculpting with plans to work on a stop motion claymation project. She’s currently sculpting something that looks like an extra in Silent Hill. I’m fucking impressed. She kept your t-shirts and wore the Jason one to your viewing, which I encouraged because…your kid. Next week, she’s dying her hair black. I gave Ray the keyring she got you over a decade ago for Father’s Day. I kept the post it notes I wrote you that you saved, you sentimental fucker. I’ve been cooking way too much food. I hit a woman for talking shit about Layla. Bonus, I did it in your bedroom shoes. I bought a ridiculous amount of socks. I gave all the corporations calling about past due bills varying accounts of your absence such as: you were abducted by aliens, you will call them back upon reincarnation, you’re dead and mommy can’t come to the phone because she’s next door playing unicorn dress up with the neighbor’s spouse (done in my best kindergarten voice. It’s my favorite. So far). I got piss drunk one night and smoked a ton of pot for a month. (Don’t worry, I’m sober now.) One fine Saturday, I stared at a wall for seven straight hours. I gave away over fifteen thousand dollars to various people and causes (haha vultures…bet that hurts, lol).
We all have the same music play lists so just so you know, you’ve ruined music for all the Bowers women. Your mom and sisters, Chris, the family, they’ve protected and sheltered us. Raul was invaluable comic relief at what was the worst Christmas ever. Mom stole the neighbor’s rooster. Amy and Susan nearly took out a patriarchal twat waffle at the dump. The funeral home did and didn’t have your ashes so Amy and I drove back and forth to Atlanta to not retrieve them and retrieve them. We discovered that we can’t actually eat a whole suitcase of Krystal’s but we tried. I taught Mom Finnish curse words but she doesn’t know it. Amy and I pranked Mary Jo so good we almost felt bad (Layla recorded it on her phone). You would have been appropriately displeased. No one is exactly sure what to do with the ludicrously large portrait of you from the funeral home so we put it in the closet where it belongs. (That may or may not be appropriate but I know you’d appreciate it). That’s how we’re dealing. Or not.
Sorry about that side trip, guys. I meant to update everyone on what I’m doing and shit but fuck it. Writing seldom goes where you mean for it to go. The girls and I are trying to be positive and focus on a new beginning. We’re settling into this new place. Soon we’ll be back to something resembling normal for us. Until then, we’re going to focus on each other and healing.
We miss you, Brian. But we learned something from you. I’m probably not going to do shots of Jack at 11 a.m., but I am going to live in that spirit. Remember our deal, bitch. I’ll be waiting.
P.S. Cosmo is still a dick but she misses you too. Willow is still eating cat food and only gives a shit about chicken and rice. Peace, queen.