The worst night of my life I was alone. Mom was dying and I was the only one from the family in the hospital with her. Molly hadn’t arrived yet from CA. It was late, after 9:00pm, and a little while after I’d held the phone up to my nearly comatose mother’s ear, on the request of my father, so that she might hear the concert he was attending–a concert in which my brother and sister-in-law were singing, and a concert my father was trying to convey to my mother by holding his cell phone up in the air to catch the songs. That was the night I fully understood my parents’ relationship. Only then.
I hung up the phone after giving my father the sad news that Mom hadn’t made any response at all. She’d just laid there, out like a light. What I didn’t know until a little bit later, maybe an hour, was that the nurse–a new one. Not one of our familiar and favorites–had possibly dosed my mother with too much of something, and that that something may have put my mother into a coma. I don’t think I’ll ever know the truth of that, but what I do know was that the most genuine moment I have ever exhibited was also that night. It was when I felt my body scream “STOOOOOOOP!!!!!” as the interns assigned to her ward tried to revive her with what seemed like Draconian methods. Of course they weren’t Draconian, they were what you do to get a pain response so you can see if the person in front of you is really there or if she’s been turned into… a vegetable.
Tonight the seriousness of human relationships, of love, comes into full view. The title of this blog post is a play on the title of Joan Didion’s heartbreaking and beautiful memoir, “The Year of Magical Thinking,” in which she recounts the year after her beloved husband, John, died suddenly of a heart attack. When I returned to CA after Mom died I read that book over and over. I read it so much Molly asked me to stop, suggesting that “dwelling”–which is what she thought I was doing–wold only hurt me more. I didn’t stop. I just hid my reading of it from Molly, and that’s okay because until she loses her mother she won’t understand that what I was doing was grieving and trying to make sense of the senseless, of the loss of a great love.
The title of the blog post was changed from Didion’s original by Molly. She is using it as the title of a new album she will be writing and recording this month as part of an online contest called “The RPM Challenge” in which musicians are given 30 days to write and record a full album of ten songs. It’s very exciting and a good way to motivate yourself. Friends of ours did it last year and their album did very well.
The reason for this post, or part of it anyway, is because of what Molly wrote in the box describing her upcoming album:
“The Month of Magical Thinking is a meditation on my last relationship and why it took me five years before I could successfully end it and the abuse that went with it. I will be writing a song a day exploring my pain and loss and where, not quite a year afterward, I am now. This is how I will process my journey, by coming forward with it, finally, in song. I hope that my journey will inspire others to free themselves from abuse.”
Interesting that this is what should greet me upon my return from a weekend of meditation. Is the universe chatting me up again, perhaps?
Romantic relationships are the toughest ones of all in large part because there aren’t witnesses to everything. Only the two people involved really know what went on between them, and sometimes that’s very hard to bear. For a long time I needed validation from those around me that I wasn’t insane to be so hurt and changed and exhausted by my relationship with Molly, but I’m finally over that. I know what happened, as does she. My hope once was that we’d have a chance to talk and clear the air, finally get some closure. But her calling me an abuser crosses too big a line for that to be possible now. I know there are some things I’ve written about her in this blog that Molly disagrees with, but I never described her as being clinically damaging to me in any way. We fought a lot. Our relationship, despite the huge amount of love, was very hard. That’s all.
I am still in love with Molly, but I’m handling it. Mostly I’m just letting time pass knowing the feeling will fade eventually. It hasn’t yet been one year since we broke up so there’s more waiting to be done, but I’m confident now that the day will come when Molly is a distant memory. It’s the nature of things. Like death.
Since there is no response I could make to Molly in reaction to her horrid accusation, I have chosen to just close the door and only remember the love between us. There was a lot of it for enough time that I have some wonderful memories. I loved filming her performing, and loved waking her up in the morning. I loved making her soup when she was sick, and loved getting up early to drive her to work. I loved her funny, odd little sounds, and the way she’d stay up until dawn watching YouTube videos of other musicians. I loved how she loved food and marvel at her ability to taste every spice and flavor in a bite. And I loved sleeping with her. Climbing into bed and wrapping my arms around her as we drifted off will be one of the best memories I will ever have.
I’ll miss the moments of trust, which became too few; and the rare, rare moments when she took my hand or kissed me in public. I will miss her amazing driving skill, for she literally saved our lives more than once on the L.A. freeways. But most of all I’ll miss the sound of her noodling-away on her 7-foot concert grand piano as she worked out a song. I will forever miss the beautiful person I fell in love with. She is extraordinary and good and funny. I will wish her happiness and joy every day until I die.
A photo I took for Molly's last album, "November Antique."
The Living Room, written & performed by Amanda Palmer.