I realized I didn’t post my initial posts here about my sweet Viking, just the main update. Since Facebook has proven less than…reliable, I don’t want to lose these thoughts and feelings, no matter how raw and painful they are. And in case you aren’t in my Facebook group, you can now read them all here in chronological order.
Heartbroken beyond measure.
Devastated. Heartbroken. It has not yet sunk in that I will never again see his smile or hear his laugh. Never feel his hugs or be his willing partner in shenanigans. No more late night warnings I am about to be kidnapped and whisked away to dinner or for a weekend.
We should have had many more years together. He promised me he would never leave me but the Goddess called him to the Summerland far too soon. The only promise he ever broke to me, and one I know he desperately never wanted to break.
My only comforts are that he looked peaceful when I found him, like he fell asleep, and that the last words we ever said to each other in person were, “I love you.” He was not just my partner and my friend, but my love, part of my soul, my anchor. He came into my life when it felt the darkest and brought love and light and joy with him. He left smiles and laughter in his wake.
He accepted me, imperfections and all, and taught me patience, and how to learn to just relax and BE for a while. We finished each other’s sentences, read each other’s minds, and he learned how wild it can be to love a witch. My circle loved him because he taught me to smile again, to laugh, to live, and then they loved him because of who he was. Life is rarely perfect, but together we were perfection. Our demons revelled in the darkness together with reckless abandon and we made each other stronger. We made magic and painted each other in bruises and rope and tears and smiles.
My sweet Viking. You carry my heart with you and may we one day be reunited, if the Goddess deems it. Look for me first in your next life. Meanwhile, wherever you’re waiting for me, may the media noches and flan be plentiful, may the La Croix never run out (sorry for getting you hooked on it, baby) and may your corned beef hash always turn out yummy.
I know you would want me to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and I hear you whisper, “Breathe, koneko; good kitten,” in my ear. I will pull our circle tightly around me even as I curse that I did not get more time with you. 55 was too damned young. You promised me you would never die before me.
But I know you loved me as much as I loved you, Russ. And I know you will always walk by my side even if I can’t see you. You helped me heal in ways I never dreamed possible, and I will forever be grateful.
Rest in Paradise, sweet Viking. You’ve earned your sleep. I will forever keep you in what’s left of my shattered heart. Please dream sweet dreams of me.
Rage and grief.
Woke up early today (need more Xanax) raging against the Universe. How dare the Goddess rip this beautiful spirit from me, from all of us, so young? He made it one of his personal missions in life to make me smile, to make me laugh. When my fibro knocked me down, he always helped me up. When I was diagnosed with ADHD and cried because I’ve spent my life struggling with feeling like I was broken, he looked me in the eyes and asked what he could do for me to help and support me. When the more I learned about my neurodivergency the more I wondered if maybe I should get evaluated for ASD, he didn’t mock me—he encouraged me. And he still loved me and wasn’t scared by that possibility because he said I’m still me, the me he fell in love with.
When Barbara came out, Russ’ first response to me when I told him was, “Okay, what do I call her?” No judgment. Never judgment. Never.
He always put others first. I was never a burden to him, even on my worst pain days. He always wondered, even from our first meeting, why I was never intimidated by his 6’2 Viking self, and it’s because I could see his soul and always felt safe. We had so many plans, we had so many dreams.
Many of you already knew who he was to me and to my spouse. Because Russ was a dear friend to Warren, and then when she was Barbara, Russ’ friendship never wavered for her. Not for a second.
In the beginning, we’d both had to build trust because we’d both come to this with our own personal scars and wounds and triggers and past emotional woundings. We’d both experienced partners in the past who’d put us through pain and betrayal and all those other toxic darts that can tank a relationship.
But we talked, talked, always talked, and once, in the beginning, after yet another conversation leaving us both drained in good ways because we’d discussed triggers and growth, he looked at me and said, “I’ve never been able to talk to anyone like this before, like you. You _hear_ me. What we have is so…calm. I love this about us.” And I felt the same way. And we both treasured that peace. It was something we agreed we wanted to continue for life.
He was private in many ways because let’s be honest, being poly isn’t exactly mainstream or something easily explained to others. And I respected his need for us to keep what we had secret from some, for now. And there are secrets and revelations he entrusted me with that I will carry to my grave, the way he carried some of mine with him. He worried about what some people might think and he asked me for time and patience for him to tell people in his own way and in his own time. I never pushed him to do or give more than he was ready when it came to expanding his personal circle and entrusting them with the knowledge.
But it’s doubly unfair that, so close to our second anniversary, and with our lives twining deeper and more tightly together, and with him FINALLY starting to take those steps to expand his circle beyond our immediate friends of those he told who I really was to him, to have him just be…gone.
This is not fucking fair.
He loved his daughter so much, loved his siblings. He was an amazing father and I loved and respected that about him so much because she was his daughter by marriage and not by birth, but he was her DAD, and she absolutely was his daughter. Just like my dad is my dad even though not by birth. Russ chose to be her father and loved her hard and fiercely, was very protective of her, and it’s not fair he’s gone. It’s not fair he won’t be here for her to make more memories with him.
So much, so many dreams, so much potential—so many FUTURES with him now absent and I’ve reached for my phone multiple times since Thursday night to text or call him and…
He’s not there. My phone lockscreen has been a picture of us and every time it comes on he’s smiling at me and my heart breaks anew because there will be no more new smiles, no more new pictures together to update my lockscreen with.
I am heartsick I didn’t listen to my gut and go over Wednesday to check on him. Not that it would have mattered even by then, but it will haunt me that my sweet Viking was alone that long. He always teased me that I worried too much, especially after his hospital stays, insisted that he was fine. He never let me worry and always replied to me when he saw I was concerned because he hadn’t responded yet (if he hadn’t warned me in advance that he’d be busy for a while). Because I’d told him my greatest fear was of him just being…gone. That he would disappear and I wouldn’t be able to find out what happened because no one would even know to tell me, and I’d have no way of knowing who to contact.
And he’d even recently started taking steps, at his own pace, to start expanding his circle of people in his own world, who knew who I was to him. And just this past weekend he told me that and his smile and laugh when I SQUEED! and jumped up and hugged him is one I will cherish.
And then it makes me wonder if that was a nudge to him from the Goddess, because She knew. She knew his time was short.
And then the most cruel of ironies, I was the one who found him. I was the one who went looking for him despite trying to assure myself I was overreacting and he was fine. But that raw gnawing in my gut, my “witchy sense” that he’d been admitting more and more often he could see appeared to be a real thing, got louder and more strident.
And when the deputies finally cleared the scene to allow us to go in but warned us maybe not to, I HAD to. I needed to be sure. Before, when I got there, I could barely see through the tiny slit in the blinds, but I needed to SEE. I needed to touch him one more time.
I am glad I did because his face was peaceful. Now I could…give one tiny measure of thanks. He didn’t hurt. He didn’t feel fear. He didn’t collapse and suffer.
He went to sleep on the couch watching TV, the same comfy couch we spent countless hours on during this fucking pandemic. We joked that the comfy couch sucked us in. This time, it simply didn’t let go.
Our daily routine at night, if we weren’t together, was to text I love you and sweet dreams.
If I couldn’t be at his side at that final moment, at least I could stand there as final witness, and touch his hair, and tell him I loved him again, and SEE with my own eyes that he was simply dreaming now. Longer than I wish, but I could SEE that my sweet Viking did not suffer. That is the one small measure of peace I hold.
The rest of us now, however…
My anger simmers. I want to stand outside and scream. My hand still hurts from when I pounded on his door after peeking through the closed blinds and seeing him on the couch. Then I ran back to the window and pounded so hard I thought I’d break the window. I yelled. The 911 operator was trying to keep me calm but I KNEW. And I was terrified and angry that I couldn’t get in there to him, to be with him. I was angry that we’d talked about a key and he hadn’t given me one yet but he was going to. Baby steps, right?
Because I didn’t push. We always respected each other where we were and working our way through this at our own speeds. And now I wish I had pushed. I wish I’d pushed him and put my foot down to keep and wear the defibrillator vest he despised. I wish I’d put my foot down and demanded a key after he got back from the hospital, just in case. Hell, I had his keys and his car when he was in the hospital in January and I didn’t go secretly make copies of his key because no way in hell would I have ever violated his trust like that. Hell, I never even asked to look at his phones because my theory has always been that if I felt I needed to snoop that meant I shouldn’t be there to start with.
Just like I gave him a key and knew he wouldn’t violate my trust, either. But especially since we have animals that would need care if something happened to me and Barbara, I asked if he’d take it, and he said of course.
I wish last weekend when he told me he just hadn’t had a chance to do it yet because he’d been so busy with work and kept forgetting, but that he would when he was out in the next week or two, I wish I’d suggested we go do it then while we were out running errands.
But I never pushed.
We were alike like that. We didn’t like to be pushed, so we didn’t push. I knew when he said he’d do something that he would do it in his own time. He aways had. Pushing to do something, even something we wanted to do, meant digging in heels.
I never pushed.
He never let me down, either. Maybe some things happened in his time and not mine, but sometimes that was also him deliberately helping me practice patience.
Sometimes it was just because he was busy and his job could be aggravating and intense. More than once we had tentative weeknight plans and he’d get hijacked by a work call and get behind, and I’d always remind him it was okay, I understood. Just for him to say an hour later fuck it, the work will still be there, I want to see you and I’m on my way. Even though it meant working into the night later to finish catching up for the next day.
He liked to pick me up, when possible. He hated “making” me drive even though I told him I had no problem with it. This was even more so after he was hospitalized because I think he needed to prove to himself he could take care of me. He wanted to dote on me and even though I assured him (with all the past experiences I’ve had with loved ones needing medical care) that it didn’t faze me in the slightest, I think he needed to do it for him more than for me.
We were together nearly every weekend. More than once on a Friday he’d get wrapped up in a call with West Coast projects and I would tell him it’s okay to come get me tomorrow if he didn’t want me driving over. And then when he’d get off the call and wrap up, even if it was 9pm or 10pm our time, he be like I’m getting in the car now, you’re getting kidnapped, be ready. LOL So I quickly learned that when he apologized that a call was running late, or he’d had one added at the last-minute, to be ready anyway because he would probably still come kidnap me. LOL
I am angry and devastated and I can barely breathe because he’s gone and there is a gaping void in my soul now where my sweet Viking should be.
Russ, I cannot believe it’s been a week since I kissed you goodbye and we hugged, and we said, several times, I love you, for what was the last time in person. You were always so good about that with me because you knew how that was a trigger. You knew my fear of ever leaving it unsaid. Just like you always humored me by texting me when you got home safe (well you wanted me to do it, too). Just like our goodnight texts to each other on every night we weren’t together included I love you, and sweet dreams.
I saved every text. From the very first one. My anxiety demanded it, and I give tearful thanks to the Goddess now that I did. Nearly 2 years of texts and laughter. I plan on going through from the beginning (that’s a fuckton of scrolling!) and screenshotting everything so I don’t have to worry about ever losing them. Just like I’ve already gone through and redundant-copied and saved all my pictures of you.
Goddess, do I wish I took more videos of you and captured your voice and your laugh. (CHOCOLATE. CAKE! lol)
And then last Monday, after I backed Bob out of your garage, you stood there smiling and waving and blowing me a kiss the way you always did when we said goodbye, waiting for me to go so you could put your car back inside. Because even in that little way, having me park my car in there so it’d be safe bc of my tools (and my cat converter! lol), you took care of me.
(Yes, baby, I will get a cat-con cage priced out and installed. I need time to breathe again first, though. Hey, you’ve been driving around for weeks with your dash lit like a fucking Christmas tree bc of your ABS module, and I’ve been riding your ass to get it fixed, so cut me some slack, Viking.)
But I will never see that sweet smile again and it hurts so much. I will never again blow kisses to you or get them from you. I didn’t take any pictures of you last weekend, just one of Edgar, because you were so excited about how many new leaves he had. The last one I took of you was a couple of weeks ago and you were asleep on the couch. We’d been watching TV and snuggling and I got up to go to the bathroom and when I came back I just had to take that picture. And how when I laid back down you curled that arm around me and said you missed me.
Now, that picture holds so much special meaning and pain, because you look in that sleeping picture almost as you did when I found you, except your arm wasn’t outstretched and waiting for me to come back. But you had the same peaceful look on your face when I found you, so I know you are dreaming sweet dreams now. I keep telling myself you’re only asleep, just longer than I’d like until I can one day join you. You didn’t hurt. You just fell asleep into sweet dreams.
I went by Moreno Bakery today for your favorite flan, and stopped by your favorite market and got corned beef (they STILL don’t have the gold cans back in yet and you were JUST grumbling to me about that last week!!! Although they did have your “angry cabbage.” lol) to make some this week. Tonight my friends are going to fill me with martinis and I’ll feed them flan and share stories about you. I’m going to tell stories like how we damn near set fire to your kitchen when you tried Alton Brown’s reverse sear steak method (baby, I DID warn you I thought you had the pan too hot LOL) and it took us hours to clear the smoke out. And how at Tim and Erica’s wedding you laughed when you accidentally got a new last name so you were then Russ Richardson, lol, and how we almost did a two-part English/Wookie toast for them. Told you they would have loved it. LOL And they said we should have done it. LOL Hey it was your idea and I was all for it! lol We always were enablers for each other like that, for shenanigans. I’ll tell them how at WaWa in Lakeland of all places, you slapped my ass on the way into the bathroom and loudly scolded me, “Wash your hands this time!” and how you nearly wet yourself ROARING laughing when I shot back, “Hey YOU were the one in the glory hole, buddy—wash your knees!” Because we couldn’t embarrass each other. Gawd, how we tried, too. LOL
And that was, what, only four weeks ago. Fuck.
No more escalations of playful one-ups that only we thought were hysterical, because neither of us would back down and we enjoyed the hell out of that. No more snarking along with TV shows with you.
I’m going to try to put one foot in front of the other, one shaky step at a time. And even now I feel you next to me, hear your voice in my ear, the same thing you always told me when my anxiety hit hard and I didn’t think I had it in me.
“You’ve got this. You can do this, kitten.”
But I don’t know how to do this when you’re not THERE for me to finally collapse onto and catch me to rest and recharge. The strong arms that always helped me up and held me when the bad pain hit hard and took my breath away, and the hands that worked to break up my painful shoulder knots or help ease my muscle cramps. The Viking who always kept a protective cordon around me in crowds to keep people from bumping into me and hurting me. The Viking who talked my anxiety down when it wound too tightly around me. The Viking to scold me and order me to sit down and let you do whatever it was, because you took to heart the warning I gave you in the beginning that I usually try too much, too hard, and crash myself into a flare, and sometimes need to be reminded of that.
You always did.
You were there. You were always there, even when we weren’t together. And I don’t remember how I did that before you. I have to relearn those skills and it’s not fair, dammit. Because life felt a thousand times easier when you were in it.
And now it doesn’t.
I love you, sweetie. Sweet dreams. 🥰💖😘
My Martini Mob FTW. We toasted Russ and had flan in his memory. (I asked them to get me hammered. No, I’m not driving.) Short some players tonight for D&D so playing Dungeon instead. #worldsbestfriends
BTW it takes four of Max’s martinis to get me hammered. #themoreyouknow
What idiot sobs, crying over two cans of shaving cream?
Me, I’m the idiot. Because this time last week they were still under the counter in Russ’ bathroom, with other stuff I kept there. 😞
Hug your loved ones. Say, “I love you,” always as the last words at parting.
At least that’s one regret I don’t have.
(Thursday, November 4, 2021)
Yes, I’m still going to Shameless Book Con next week. I know my Viking would have wanted me to go. Russ was looking so forward to going and seeing what I got to do, and helping me with everything.
Obviously, Incisive isn’t uploaded yet. Anyone who pre-ordered it in print, I’ll mail it to you at my cost. I will likely be cancelling the pre-order for the writing how-to guide because I’m barely vertical right now.
There’s still some back-and-forth dealing with a last few things, since I wasn’t his legal next of kin. (Not acrimonious, just… complicated.) I’m emotionally stuck in limbo until I can get that handled because I’m hung up in “survival function” mode and can’t move on to “process my life has been destroyed” mode. Because I know if I try to make that mode-jump too soon I’m going to fall apart and…yeah.
NOTE: If you are in a poly relationship, or even if you are in a long-term relationship with someone but not legally “married” to them, make SURE to leave something written out and notarized, at least, specifying who has rights to do things/ make certain decisions/ have certain items in case of your passing because… yeah. I believe what’s remaining will be resolved in my favor, I hope, but please send up intensive prayers/ blessings/good juju /whatever energy you can spare for me in the next couple of days that it does.
((HUGS)) and thank you. I’m sorry I haven’t responded to everyone. It was a week ago today I found him and I’m just…still trying to breathe and process.
(Thursday, November 4, 2021)
A week ago tonight my life was shattered. And I know it’s the trauma on top of my existing CPTSD but there are some gaping holes in my memory now from that night, and it keeps feeling like more are forming. The therapist who handles my ADHD meds said it’s disassociation from the emotional trauma and he’s referring me to a trauma expert. At my request, Spouse has requested the tape of the 911 call and bodycam footage for me. I need to see and hear them. I rationally know based on all the evidence that Russ passed sometime late Tuesday evening. I know it won’t change anything.
But _I_ need to fill those memory holes. I don’t want them to grow. I don’t want to start wondering if there are other things I’ve forgotten, like Russ’ laugh, his smile, how he sounded when he told me he loved me, how he sounded when he snarked at his Alexa for once again screwing up something as simple as him asking for a “32-minute ice timer.”
I need this for me. I know even had I listened to the screaming in my gut Wednesday night and drove over there in the middle of the night it still wouldn’t have made a difference.
Logic brain knows this.
My heart, however, is shattered. I blame myself for not finding him sooner. I blame myself for not thinking on Sunday when he was complaining about pain in his left calf that he attributed to judo that I should have hauled him to the ER immediately because that was the leg he had the DVT in in December.
Logic tells me I can’t do that, that I can’t second-guess what happened and what-if things.
My heart reminds me I made promises to him, the way he made promises to me, and one of those was to always look out for him, to demand he attend to his health if he wasn’t.
Brain knows I had and have no way of knowing. That it was in no way my fault.
Heart tells me I failed him. That had I NOT let him just this past FUCKING weekend logic me into trying to rein in my anxiety, had I LET my anxiety take the reins THIS time it might have actually made a difference.
Brain and heart are at war and I know maybe the holes are trying to protect me, but I don’t want to lose a fucking second. And if I lose a second of that horrible night, who’s to say I won’t lose more? Lose what little I have left of him? And I don’t want to lose a second of the nearly two years we had together.
It wasn’t long enough to start with. I fucking damn well don’t want it to get shorter.
(Thursday, 7/4, 2021, 7:15pm)
One week exactly from when I made a phone call and entered Hell.
The one promise you ever broke to me, Russ. You promised not to die first, baby.
(Saturday, November 6, 2021)
One more massive impact today punctuating losing you even more, all your sweat and blood you put into that project and…it’s gone, Russ. I don’t even have that one lasting reminder of you and your brilliance and skill and craftsmanship. But I went 8 hours between needing Xanax so that’s progress, I guess? Maybe. We haven’t even finished our shields yet and now I guess I need to learn about copper rivets, since you were going to order those for them.
I’ll try to make you proud of me. We had so many plans and projects and now… Your shieldmaiden isn’t feeling very strong right now, Viking. We never even got our matching tattoos we talked about for months. At least we never left the “I love yous” unsaid.
I don’t see how this is supposed to get easier to bear when every day it feels harder to breathe. You taught me how to smile again and now I don’t know how I’ll ever smile again.
I love you, sweetie. Sweet dreams. 🥰💖😘