Monday, March 8, 2010

One Margarita, Extra Salty.

Tonight I took Arianne and Remy out to dinner at Tommy's Restaurant while Dante was at jiu jitsu. It was a freezing cold early evening, with scattered showers. You were not going to find me running along the Ocean Beach tonight. What I really wanted to do was to get home, change into some sweats, and warm myself by the fake fireplace. But I didn't want to have Dante take the bus home on such a cold wet night, and the other kids seemed like they could use a fun dinner out.

The first thing I should have done was maybe have the two kids dine alone, as I was not very good company tonight. As my daughter had called it out during family therapy, I have begun the countdown to the six month mark which is Saturday, and I have been very quiet today. I think I have mentioned once before, Tommy's is a Mexican restaurant not far from the beach. Several years ago, Michael and I took my son Remy with us on a date there. We were out celebrating our "3 month" anniversary of dating, and had spent the day at the beach. Tonight was my first return there without Michael. I figured it had to happen at some point, as it is a favorite place of Remy's. I don't want to go around avoided places where we went in the past, as I want to continue to experience our favorite places with fond memories. This restaurant has very fond memories, as it is where Remy first asked if Michael and I were planning on getting married. Actually, it is where he asked Michael of his intentions with his dad, me.

When we first sat in the restaurant we noticed how the cold had followed us from outside. The kids sat on one side of the booth, myself on the other. Sitting there alone, freezing my ass off, made me begin to miss Michael terribly. I excused myself to visit the men's room, as I needed to take a short break from the intense feelings that were beginning to over take me. I ordered one of their extra strong margarita's, which is really the purpose of being at Tommy's after all. I privately toasted to Michael, then took my first sip. It felt kind of odd having a drink, as I have rarely had a drink in the past two years. Ever since Michael was diagnosed with his brain tumor, alcohol was something we pretty much gave up.

The taste of the tequila quickly reminded me of the last time I had one of these drinks, which was in Puerto Vallarta, November 2008. We were there on our honeymoon. And even though Michael wasn't feeling completely well, we had a wonderful time there. I remember sitting in an upstairs restaurant, looking out over the water, having margaritas. I didn't really want Michael having one, but he insisted, and it had been a wonderful day. If you are familiar with our story, you will know that Michael died one month short of our first wedding anniversary. In fact, I started this blog on our first wedding anniversary. It wasn't a total surprise really, we knew that he wasn't likely going to make it to a full year after our wedding. He wasn't suppose to even live as long as our wedding date, so I guess you could say he was always on borrowed time.

It seems that I say this so casually, yet I never really allowed myself to live in denial. I was always hopeful, but realistic. It was the only way I knew how to survive what we were facing. In some ways it hardly seems real. I look back at the photos from our wedding and honeymoon, realizing how recent they were. I look at Michael in those photos, looking so happy, looking so healthy. It's still hard to believe that he is gone.

At the restaurant tonight the kids were having lots of fun, laughing and joking around. I'm not sure if they noticed, but I was desperately fighting back tears. In fact, I'm not so sure I was very successful at holding them back. At one point Remy asked me what a margarita tasted like. I began to describe it to him, pointing out that it was bitter and sweet. I told him that while it had a sweetness to the drink, there was also lime and salt, which added a bitterness to it. While I was saying this I was thinking how this described my life. Sitting there at Tommy's, enjoying my margarita and good meal, I couldn't help but think I may have left out one significant ingredient in describing the taste to my son, extra salty, with a few scattered tears.


  1. i like the margarita metaphor. six months on Saturday. i will hold you close in my heart all day and light a candle. my 6 month mark was 5 days before my daughter's wedding. i remember snatches of that day but i was still largely in shock. i know i didn't screw anything up for her. i didn't even cry when i read the poem i wrote for her at the reception. i know, though, that i didn't look at the little teddy bear in his Marine Dress Blues sitting on the first chair, first row.

    i admire your strength and the strength in your weak moments. you are so much like a willow. bending when you have to but still standing strong with roots gripping the earth for the long haul. i think i'm more like seaweed being tossed about and hanging on for dear life. i wave whenever anyone floats by and they think it's a 'hello' when it is really the tides of fate yanking my chain ~ so to speak. =0}

  2. I too love the margarita metaphor, and I love margaritas! Let's all get together for one, or two, in San Diego!

  3. My youngest son gets so upset with me when he catches me crying. I've tried to reassure him that tears are necessary and even positive because they remove toxins, release the pain, etc. I think he might fear my tears because he is afraid when I cry that I am weak and will not be there for him.

    I am glad you were able to go to this restaurant with your kids. Sometimes I think it is okay that we aren't the best of company but good enough that we are there.

    I'll be thinking of you as Saturday nears.

  4. It was the only way I knew how to survive what we were facing. In some ways it hardly seems real.... I look at Michael in those photos, looking so happy, looking so healthy. It's still hard to believe that he is gone

    I often experience this feeling. There are a few photos of Don that I took just after he started his first line of chemo. At that point, the chemo did beat back the cancer quite well for a few weeks. Don gained weight and looked strong and well. However, that was for a fairly short time. Soon, the cancer was growing again. The next line of chemo didn't work at all and just made him sick and damaged his heart. I often think of how cancer damaged both of us. And now, sitting here on the bed, just a few minutes ago, I was looking at the canvas bag with his ashes and thinking how impossibly stupid it is that he isn't here with me -- that a disease turned such a strong, healthy man who took care of himself, into a bag of ashes. It's very weird, unsettling, and sad.
    Your experience at Tommy's reminds me a little of going to a favourite little whole food store that Don and I often shopped at on our way home from hiking or canoe trips. There is such a strong connection between that place and our many wonderful trips together, that I found it difficult to go there after Don's death. A couple of weeks after his death, a friend and I went for a drive and stopped in to get a couple of things It's kind of an alternative store - a bit peace and love kind of place in a town that's like that. Joni Mitchell's "Carey" came on the radio while I was walking around. It was never our song, but I think maybe something about hearing it reminded me of a time when we were both young, but that I'm was still here, but he wasn't - and that was something very unfair about that. My friend noticed that I was having a hard time being in the store and gave me a hug. I had to leave soon after. I've moved out of the area now - for many reasons - but partly because I can't take all of these intense reminders and memories anymore. Too tired of it all. That probably sounds like a cop-out, but going back to the hiking trails and other places Don and I loved so much is almost like picking at a wound. Time to explore new places and look for hiking trails and paddling routes I've never seen before. Not everyone has the luxury to do that though.. and I've had to give up a lot to be able to do so. I'm not sure if it's the best way. Maybe just better to keep going to the old places until they begin to feel comfortable. Maybe.