Friday, December 13, 2013

Open Letter to CJ

Dear CJ...This is the place where most people say, "I can't believe it's been four years already."  Well, I feel differently...the last four years have been, for the most part, pretty damn horrible.  I can't believe it's been only four years, since it feels more like twenty.

And understand, it was nobody's fault.  Just too much change in a short time.

I was talking about the day you died to someone in line at Dominick's this morning, seriously.  I muttered something about today being the anniversary of my fiance's death, and he said, "Like, wait...what?  He's dead literally?"  I don't know why that struck me as funny for the moment, but I said yes...I kissed him after he flatlined and it was hollow.  I promise his mom and I checked pretty thoroughly.

Then, later that night, we (your mom and I) went back to your house in Plainfield, and all I kept saying to myself in the car was, "Now what?"  It was actually a night like this one...just snow, and cold, and the Blackhawks were playing that night.  I told Alex I wasn't going to make the game.  I think I had a cigarette that night.  Slept on the couch because I didn't feel comfortable even crossing the threshold into your bedroom.

I wonder on some days how your boys are doing.  I ask your mother sometimes...goodness knows I can't ask the other person, who made it pretty clear she thought I was hiding something when you were dying.  I made two blankies out of your tee shirts for Ethan and Noah, and I mailed them to her house, and would you know I never heard from her to even know if they were received?  I hope they were...your boys deserved a comforting piece of you, but then again I'm not their mother or caretaker so maybe I was overstepping my bounds.  I don't know.

They are seven and nine now.  If I ever met them again, I would not tell them what our relationship was.  I would just tell them, "I knew your dad.  He was great, and he loved you two like crazy."

We did a great job at keeping our relationship private...other than maybe Steve, and a friend or two of yours who finally got it out of you, we pulled off a fantastic heist.  And if we got married at St. Kitts on Valentine's Day like you wanted, I have no idea if we would have lasted forever, but I'm 100% sure I would have been dancing in your kitchen with you while the Mighty Mighty Bosstones were playing in the background.  Our life would have been such a might not believe me, but the fact that you considered me at all was such a big deal.  Turning on the Blackhawks game for me before I even got to your house was nothing to you, but everything to me.

Oh and by the way, when Jeff needed to borrow my car and I needed to borrow yours, thanks for driving the forty miles to pick me up, and then driving me back home the next day so I could use your sports car to get to the gig with the band the next day.  I'm thankful it was dark outside and you couldn't see me peeling out of your neighborhood in your BMW convertible...I admit, I drove that car the way it was meant to be driven.  You got it back in one piece, though...

This year is hitting me particularly hard, maybe because of all that has happened since last December.  I'm probably just grieving now, more than I was allowed after that first year because I was told that I should have been over it, and that I wasn't considering someone else's feelings when I mentioned you.  I was also told I didn't try, I didn't give a shit about anyone but myself, I was withholding sex just to spite someone, and that all I cared about was money.  Well, I was strong enough to head away from that situation and toward a much better one, so I'm easily strong enough to get through this every day.

I can't change things.  I made my mistakes, tried to fix them, and failed.  But I can still move forward and keep trying to do good.  I don't sing at church anymore; my schedule doesn't really permit it, but I do need to get a singing outlet under my belt again.  Other than that, I am running toward something, which is way healthier than running away from something.  Today, the thirteenth of December, just makes me sad now.

I'm thinking that I have always wanted to do something nice in your memory, but I couldn't pinpoint what I wanted to do.  Well, I think I have it.  For every cent I make through knitting this year, from now until December 31 of 2014, I'm going to donate it to St. Jude Children's Research hospital.  Every pattern I sell, the money from my column, if anyone wants to pay me for a keynote or a class or a lecture or private lesson...I'll empty out my PayPal account and ship it down to Memphis.

If this is the year I make it "big" in the knitting world, then so be it.  Those kids whose lives are being saved deserve it, and so do you.

Since this is a blog, if anyone else has dared read this far, my email address is  CJ died from complications of liver failure, but he has two little boys named Ethan and Noah and I would love his legacy to be more than just the good dad he was for the few years he could be one.

If you buy a pattern from me, I will donate the money to St. Jude in CJ's honor.  If you want me to talk to your knitting group on pretty much any topic on which I can inspire or rein in, I will donate any payment to St. Jude. If you pay me for a design, if you pay me for a column...anything related to knitting at all...I will donate proceeds after administrative fees (which are minimal) to St. Jude.  If you want me to chat about something other than knitting, I'm certainly open to that idea as well...I know a lot about anger, making peace, customer service, and just generally being a good person among other topics.

If you want to just make a donation on your own and add it to my contribution, use the above email address for PayPal, make sure the subject is something related to "CJ and St. Jude," and give me up to 24 hours to send you a receipt (I work overnight, so sometimes I am not right next to a computer).  If you have any questions, feel free to email me at any time and I'm happy to answer them.

I can't bring you back, but I can keep your always-giving spirit alive by doing this.  Maybe one day, I'll be able to live through the thirteenth of December with no tears, and maybe on the next one I'll be able to talk to you as I do sometimes, and tell you how much money I was able to raise for children's cancer research.  In my opinion, that will be a damn good day.


  1. You will 'get over it' at your own time... don't let others tell you how much grieving time you need. Some people are able to pretend to go on; others have to struggle and some of us still mourn. You are in my prayers (many hugs)