Friday, August 30, 2013

Corn Nuts

I used to love Corn Nuts. My husband Don hated Corn Nuts and used to make fun of me all the time for eating them."What is the attraction to these things?" he would say. "Its like eating plywood." 

"Yes, but it's cheese-flavored plywood!", I would retort as I crunched close to his face to purposely annoy him. "Jesus, could they be any louder? I think that's the loudest food on earth." "You're the loudest food on earth".

 I realize this statement makes absolutely no sense to the normal observer, but it is something Don started doing a few years ago, for no particular reason. Anything I would say, he would come back with that; adding "you're" and then repeating the sentence back. The less sense it made, the funnier it was:

Me: "How was your turkey sandwich?" Him: "You're a turkey sandwich."

Me: "We have to call Paul soon and fill out our tax forms." Him: "You're a tax form."

 But let's get back to the Corn Nuts. I have not eaten Corn Nuts since Don died. Why? Because I am terrified that I will choke on a Corn Nut. I am scared to death that I will choke while in my apartment; and be found days or weeks later; when someone finally realizes that I am missing. They will open the door and see me lying on the floor surrounded by cat poop and askew Corn Nut remnants. Then Sammy and Autumn will be taken away by mean men in lab-coats to a Kill-Shelter and when nobody adopts them, they will be immediately destroyed.

 These are the things that constantly come into my head now; after losing Don. These are the kind of panic-stricken, anxiety-ridden, screwed up thoughts that come with the territory of losing someone to sudden and unexpected death. Because once that happens, you now know that it COULD happen again. To anyone. Anytime. Anywhere. And you can never, ever be prepared. Never.

 What if I slip and fall in the shower and die? What if I get mesothelioma? I don't even know what that IS, but apparently enough people have it that there are endless lawyers on TV who specialize in it, so of course, I panic about it. What if Im walking in NYC, and an air-conditioner comes loose from someone's apartment above me, and falls 27 stories, landing on my head? These are the things I come up with while just trying to exist peacefully in my daily life. 

 What if I have a heart attack, like he did? Everytime my arm or my chest or my tummy or ANYTHING in that general area feels a bit "off", I instantly assume "this is it! I'm going to die today!" What if I am standing on the kitchen chair while changing the ceiling light-bulb; and I fall and crack my head open? The cats would not only NOT call 911, but they would also eat the blood pouring out of my head like it was a fine tuna. 

 What if I die in my sleep, or I could slide off the road in the middle of winter after some out of the way comedy gig. I could choke on rice. Sometimes a grain of rice can get stuck. Anything can happen. There are multiple ways that I could die, out of the blue, and it would go unnoticed.

In my old life, I used to love coming up with all the different ways that I might die and sharing them with Don. It was like a game. I loved to annoy him, and he laughed like hell at my ridiculousness. We would take walks along the Hudson River on our street, and there are these areas where you look over and its a large cliff-like thing. I loved to look over the edge and say to Don: "What would happen if I just jumped off this cliff right now? Would I die?" "Yes Boo, you would die." "But what if I didn't die? What if I was just a head in a wheelchair? Would you leave me?" "No Boo. I wouldn't leave you because you were just a head. I'd leave you because you're annoying."

 A few months before he died, he was on his overnight shift as a paramedic; and I was home alone. I was drinking a glass of water, and I almost choked on it. Who chokes on water? It wasn't a full choke; just went down the wrong pipe; but I was coughing and doing the eye-watering thing for ten minutes afterwards. I totally freaked out at the thought of that happening while he was at work and not here next to me. I texted him once I calmed down, and we had this dialogue below. I found it on my phone, so whats written below is the exact text exchange that happened. Sometimes I just stare at these texts from us; and I laugh and smile and cry. This conversation is exactly who we were, and I so miss my partner in banter, and my anchor in life. Everyone has rhythms in a relationship. Our rhythm was that I would panic, he would calm me down. I was emotional, he was logical. When you lose half of your rhythm, there is no balance anymore. So, in my case, there is only panic:

Me: Boo, I just almost choked on water lol.
Him: Seriously? Only you would do that.
Me: I could have died.
Him: You didn't die.
Me: But I could have.
Him: You're fine, Boo.
Me: But this is why I'm glad we are married. We both need someone there in case the other person chokes on something.
Him: LOL But I'm at work, so it doesn't matter that you're married, since I wasn't home anyway when it happened.
Me: But I can text you and tell you and you'll send help.
Him: OR could use that time to call 911 and save your own life!!!!
Me: But you ARE 911, so I could save my own life by calling YOU to have YOU save my life. Its ironic, don't you think?
Him: Yeah. Like rain on your wedding day.
Me: A free ride, when you've already paid.
Him: Okay Boo. I gotta go. We have to pick up a patient. I cant sit here and quote Alanis Morrisette songs with you all night.
Me: You're an Alanis Morrisette song.
Him: LOL Try to get through the rest of your night without accidentally killing yourself.
Me: I guess that means staying away from the Corn Nuts.
Him: You're a Corn Nut. 

Pictured: Corn Nuts. / My husband standing against his ambulance, at work. 


  1. Thank you for sharing that dialog with us. I smiled and cried. It's a beautiful glimpse into love.

  2. Kelley, your post made me smile and cry because I see you and Don as "nuts" about each other! I can relate very well as my husband and I bantered very much like this, as well.

    So, true... we are out of "balance". What a great way to sum up all the emotions we experience along this widow/er path!

    Thank you for sharing your life!

  3. I spent about two solid weeks both obsessed and convinced I would choke on something and die, and no-one would find me for days. I do the same thing - every stomach ache, sore left arm, racing heart, I think: and now I die here, and I wouldn't if he were still here, because well, one, I wouldn't even be thinking this if he were here, if he were here, he would also calm me down, and if it Was an actual medical something, he'd call 911. I always leave extra water for the animals now, in case I die while out of the house. It IS those random things you panic about, on so many levels: no one would know to look, no one is here to help, and seriously - when random accidental death has already happened, there is no way you can talk yourself down from shit like that just by saying "Yeah, but it's pretty improbable that would actually happen." Dude - improbable already happened.

  4. That was really sweet!

  5. This hits home with me so much! I have an obsession with having my make-up on every day whether I'm going anywhere or not, so in case I die suddenly, at least I'll look "good"...I also do things like you, Megan, like making sure the cats have extra food and water. I think about this stuff even though my grown daughters call me every day, and even if I did die at home alone, I doubt that I would be laying there very long until I was found. Thinking about this stuff wears me out...I've even thought about getting "Life Alert"!

  6. I understand. I was told "You're Fine" over and over again in 2000, after seeing many doctors because I was always tired, had pains, night sweats and severe itching. I was also a 38 year old married mother of two young daughters and I worked full time. I remember when one doctor called me a "basket case" and said I was just a "stressed out working mom". Several months later I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma with an 8 inch tumor in my sternum. I immediately began cancer treatment, including chemotherapy and radiation and went into remission in May 2001.

    So last year when my 52 year old husband didn't feel well after returning from a plane trip and went to the doctor, I received a text from him that said "I'm Fine". The doctor sent him home that afternoon. The next morning, after I had gone to work and driven our youngest daughter to school, he was rushed to the hospital. A neighbor called me on my cell phone. I called my husband while he was in the ambulance and he told me to meet him at the ER in room 201. By the time I got there, I had to wait for 20 minutes with my parents and then a doctor came in and told me I needed to say good-bye. He was already gone and had died of an undiagnosed Pulmonary Embolism. Seven days later I had my 11 year cancer free anniversary.

    This year I celebrated 12 years of being cancer free. And observed the 1st anniversary of my husband's death. 15 months later I'm still dealing with legal and financial issues of his sudden death. And the roller coaster of emotions related to losing him so quickly. Some days I think I'm doing well and taking steps to move forward, and then the next minute I feel sad and overwhelmed again.

    Our daughters are now 20 and 16 and I hope I'm making all the right choices concerning them and everything else! It is true that the dynamics of our family is now different and we are all trying to continue on our journeys to heal while also missing him each and every day.

    I really appreciate reading these daily entries and I have received a lot of support from so many of the articles and the comments from others going through the same thing.

  7. Thank you for,sharing such a beautiful story of the love you and your husband had. I lost my husband to cancer nine months ago and I'm still so numb I forget about the funny conversations like yours we used to have. We both used to eat corn nuts while he was getting chemo. He always liked to be munching on something and cornuts were one of his favorites. :)