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June is a month of weddings, I will admit I’m not sure why southerners ever get married in the summer, but y’all do and I’ll raise a glass to it. This weekend there are two weddings for people that I care about; one local for a friend of ours, and the other in another time zone for family.

What stands out to me right now, is that both of them have empty chairs. For different reasons, but chairs that will be empty none the less.

When I got married the first time, it was on my great-grandmother’s birthday. She garnered a round of applause at the start of the ceremony and she princess-waved as she was rolled out in her wheelchair by my brother-in-law. They were all there, so many that are gone now through death and distance – but they were all there that day.

The lives of our friends has been a horrifying game of emotional Plinko over the last couple of years but I can only think of one other couple I have ever known that was so clearly *bound* to each other. The connection between them is practically visible, and what I want for them years of reward for the steadfast courage and relentless continuing that have found in each other.

For my family member who is getting married, my heart just cracks because of the circumstance that arose for her first empty chair, and then again for the second one. There will be other days, and other visits, but *this day* only happens once. I wish for her and her soon-to-be husband such lovely things, and years filled with laughter. I wish that Saturday was going to be just a little different.

Ultimately I found myself thinking of Empty Chairs at Empty Tables from Les Miz, and it is a bit heavy handed (because I do not think anyone was of a failed revolution … but I suppose I could be wrong) but I also know that emotions run high on wedding weekends, so if anybody needs a trigger to cry this is a perfect rendition.

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Equal Parts Sugar & Sour Cream.
Enough vanilla
Fruit
(optional) Caramel drizzle

Stir in first three ingredients, add fruit.
Use caramel to drizzle until you realize that you’ve covered sweet fruit with sugar syrup and then covered again with carmel (so, add caramel until you are 27 years old then get a damn grip already).
Bring wherever it needs to go.
Serve yourself first because once people get brave enough to taste it they will eat all of it.

One summer my Aunt Violet made grapes covered in this heavenly stuff. She served herself first (per directions) and it took me awhile to try it. I cannot remember how old I was but I know that my mom’s cooking was the vast majority of what I knew, and that mom was still my driver all the time.

Ever summer after that my mom and I would look at each other and decide it was time for Aunt Vi’s grapes. However they were made, with equal parts? Or was it 2:1? Sour cream (that doesn’t seem right) or cream cheese? We spun around in circles and wished that somebody would go ahead and develop the internet already because we needed grapes covered twice over in sugar!!!!!!!

We’d call Vi, she’s have to think about it. By the fourth year it was a joke but we still never remembered (there was no internet and apparently no paper or pens either). Finally, it started to sink in.

Jeff & I made two batches today, one for my grapes and one for his apples. We joked about how equal parts could be as much as a truck of each (so long as you had a pool to pour it into and you’d pre-planned a way to stir it). I thought of Vi and her daughter, and I wondered how her daughter is now that it has been months since Vi died. If I would tell her I wrote this with a heavy, wistful heart for those days where Vi’s cooking was a revolution for me.

The internet has taught me that Aunt Vi’s grapes are a pretty standard fruit dressing, but I’m here to set the record straight. I don’t know who made it first, I don’t know how your family got a hold of it, I’m sure it isn’t quite as good as Vi’s, and forever more when Jeff needs to know how to make it he can look on the internet for Aunt Vi’s Grapes.

Been a minute I suppose.

((shrug))

Strange days.

It used to be that Halloween through mid-January was my Season of Discontent. It encapsulates the anniversary of my first marriage, my first husband’s birthday, the standard end of year holidays, and the high holy cap of Jan 11-13 – the days it took him to die.

At this point, 12 years out, I spike on Nov 2 (our anniversary) and Jan 11-13 – for the rest of it I pass as a normal-ish person. The memories of the time before, and of John’s last year interspersed with so many other memories.

I went back tonight and read what I wrote last year during these days. It still sits about right, even though tonight I am thinking a lot about when John called to tell me his new heart had arrived and my mind first thinking he was playing a joke. I’m thinking about falling asleep under the couch table in the waiting room under a blanket my best friend gave me (that is on my bed right now). Still, it is about right.

Twelve years ago tonight I had heard his voice for the last time, but I didn’t quite know it yet.

Here is where this turns into a Choose Your Own Adventure Blog Post –

Route A: I talk about how my dad is preparing for cancer treatment, and he is old, and sick, and what I wish for him no clinician, or healer, or mystic, or madman can give him.

Route B: I talk about how a lot of my widowhood is non-standard, and still I wonder if I get to write on my own blog about my dead husband because (damn girl) it has been 12 years. If my widowhood was a baby it would have gotten a damn phone of it’s own for Christmas.

Route C: I look at the sparkling number of 150 posts, and feel proud of that, and move on to tomorrow to see what it has in store.

At the end of LLV I took possession of the stuff I had been ignoring from my youth and brought it back home to start ignoring it in a more local setting.

My softball picture, The precious stuffed dolls of my childhood, and the arms of a chair.

The chair had been a gift for my first marriage from my mom’s best friend. It was meant to last for generations, it was beautiful. A Shaker-ish rocking chair, it had a seat in a classic and versatile floral on a green background.

Our homes were decorated straight from the catalog of Random & Whatever, and it was part of the first real adult furniture we had (see also: the dressers from my grandmother and the couch of OMFG). It was important.

Then, after J had to move to wait for his heart transplant it became the place where he did his twice daily dressing changes. It has been 12 years, I could go to the store today and buy everything he would need, I could talk a stranger through it, I can tell you where he would flinch (except later, he didn’t anymore). Realistically, there were 500 dressing changes.

The chemicals wore the varnish off the ends of the arms of the chair.

My parents never faltered in my presence when it was time to pack up the apartment. Hell, they just never faltered. The chair went into storage because it became the physical embodiment of that time. Eventually I told my parents that the chair needed to be destroyed, save for the arms which were to be mine.

arms behind me

I had a special season of hell planned for the arms of that chair. Every moment of rage and helplessness were going to find a permanent refuge in their destruction. Then I would get really serious.

I knew that they would be in the stuff I brought back at the end of LLV, and a couple of weeks ago I found them.

Now.

I still remember the season of hell I had planned for them. More than that, now, I know that I learned a lot in those months about myself, about courage, about medicine, about death, about love, about living, about things that are precious and the shit that isn’t.

Now, I suspect I will cut them down so they are smaller and decades from now my son is going to have to try and figure out what to do with two chunks of wood he has never seen his mom without.

Bookends, maybe.

Ryan Murphy can sleep just fine at night. He has completely nailed the first three episodes this season in an amazing pressure cooker of expectation.

He called it just right by not naming why Finn died. He just did and really the “how?” of it doesn’t matter much for the fictional character. Now, for Cory it absolutely matters because he is a face of heroin addiction that isn’t often seen — but for Finn it just doesn’t.

There were 3 million more viewers of The Quarterback than either of the first two episodes this season. What happened was a lovely blend of The Characters and their reaction to Finn’s death and The Actors reacting to the death of Cory. It rarely seemed like it was anything other than The Actors dressed like The Characters and standing places The Characters would stand.

No place was that more evident than the discord of Lea / Rachel’s song. Her studio recording of the song was strong, but clearly not her best (and who could possibly expect more of this woman right now). The filming of her singing it (after years of practicing lip synching to her own work) was brutal and heart crushing to watch because it didn’t match. She couldn’t access emotional distance (or didn’t want Rachel to) and it is agonizing to watch her mourn on screen.

Two last thoughts…

1. I am on tumblr where I am a silly crazed fangirl to my heart’s content. I was really touched when other fandoms put together little blips that acknowledged that it was going to be a rough and emotional night in the Glee fandom.

2. The Actors are roughly the same age as my group was when my first husband died. It stood out to me.

Now for the hiatus. They are back on Nov 9 doing … what Glee does. Doctor Who has the 50th on Nov 23rd and then nothing until the Christmas special. I’m keeping up with TBBT but that is just pleasant and not really appointment viewing for me right now.

I still feel the suspense, even though the story played out 11 years ago. Turns out that if I still had a 2002 calendar lying around (Ansel Adams that year) I could reuse it this year because the days of the week are correct.

fuck that.

Eleven years ago today … I had unknowingly crossed into a world where John would never speak to me again. He was still alive, his body, some spirit maybe – at the beginning of the end. Maybe 11 years ago right this moment, some spirit. Maybe not. There is peace in thinking his spirit didn’t have to watch the next days play out.

I think of friends of long ago, the first that weren’t there but heard what we were afraid might be happening. Eleven years ago today. It is so laughable that the hope was there even for a moment. I’m grateful for a day of hope.

Penny in the air. and I know how it lands.