Tag: Miami Beach

Today, Susan came back.

The past came rushing back today.

For the past nine months, since the death of my wife, I have been stumbling around the empty rooms of my house, usually drunk, babbling my mantra: I want my Susan back.

Today I received a phone call from one of my wife’s friends from back in our Miami Beach days 30 years ago. For thirty years I hadn’t heard from her. I had thought about her, and my wife and I had talked about her from time to time, but she seemed to be, as many old friendships, lost in the past.

We talked for an hour and 10 minutes — 70 minutes, each minute for a year of Susan’s 70 years. I do like the symmetry of numbers. 

We talked about the three of us together in Susan’s high-rise apartment on Collins Avenue, getting drunk and stoned with me filming high-as-kite moments on my camcorder (do camcorders still exist?). 

Susan’s friend said I liked transforming things — like renaming Susan’s cat to a name I thought more appropriate, turning the spare bedroom into a study for myself that our friend described as “interesting and masculine.”

At that point in the conversation I said I often worry about things like that, that I was too high- and heavy-handed and wanted to run Susan’s life. Feelings of guilt about many chapters of life together are known to haunt the bereaved.

You could be that way, said our friend, but don’t worry about it. Susan loved you. The times you were away — [visiting my mother in Australia and my son in Canada and generally going walkabout] — all she talked about was you. We’d be out at a bar  and she would say, I have to get back to the apartment, Bill is calling from Australia tonight.

I did not know that, I said, in fact I never knew how she really felt about me — Susan, street-wise gal from Detroit, not given to displays of emotion.

Her friend, like Susan, is a person of faith, which I pray to be, but without success. I told her I miss Susan every waking moment of my life, because she brought stability to my vagabond ways, she was my strength, and, when my son died, my savior. I do not exaggerate when I say she saved my life.

Susan knows all that, our friend said, and her spirit is now your stability and strength. If you could believe that and stay firm, you will be together again.

As I noted, for the past nine months I have been going around the house saying over and over, I want my Susan back.

For an hour and 10 minutes today, I got part of her back. Thank you, Renata.


Of cats and the dead

I don’t get out much anymore. I stay inside with the cat. I myself am turning into a cat. I eat like the cat — cold salmon on a small plate; I sleep like the cat — frequently, and in various chairs. There is one major difference between us — she can’t type, therefore wastes no time at it.

The cat looks out the Miami Beach window at the blinding white sky. Pelicans fly in formation — nature’s own squadron, one bird taking the lead, ten others fanned out behind him. Here’s another difference between the cat and I — I know that far-away objects are bigger than they appear; the cat thinks the pelicans are about the size of budgerigars.

I’m running out of time if I intend to write my magnum opus, that one book that will justify my lousy life. The age-old question is: Where to begin? Don’t give me that “at the beginning” routine. I hate stories that start: My earliest memory is when I was four, standing on the running board of my father’s old Ford, blah blah blah.

One should start at the end, if one only knew the end. Well, the end is death, of course, but we need to know the circumstances, the morbid details, the cause, the how and the why and the where — and most chillingly, the when.

If we all knew when, we’d live our lives a lot differently. Either that or we’d blow our brains out now and be done with it. A lot of people hate waiting. They’re impatient. And they especially hate waiting for a corned beef on rye with too much pain on it; or waiting for a lousy bowl of oblivion. The hell with it.

I know a lot of dead people. I don’t call them anymore. I used to dial A for Afterlife. Never an answer. Talking into a dead phone. I dialed O for Oblivion. Busy signal. Lines all tied up.

I shared this fact with the cat. She listened intently but I knew she wasn’t interested. She was thinking of a crunchy pelican the size of a budgerigar.