Overwhelmingly Beautiful & Tragically Short. For Marie - The Love Of My Life.

UPDATE #4 - 3/1/23: If you've already read the initial story below and the three updates that followed, click here to jump to my fourth and most recent update.

Last November, my entire world changed, and I vanished from online without explaining why to anybody but my friends and family. It's taken me a long time to get to this point, and I've been through more than most of you could imagine, but I'm ready to share my story publicly now. At the very least, I'm hoping it can help some other people who are struggling.

On November 12, 2017, Marie (Re) - my wife and the love of my life for over 20 years - succumbed to her courageous, lifelong battle with clinical depression, and took her own life.

I have a lot to say about this, so before you immediately jump to the bottom of this page to offer your condolences and support, *PLEASE* take the time to read everything first. It's not going to be a fast read, but it's an important one. I want you all to know about the incredible, wonderful, brave, talented, loving woman I was lucky enough to share a life with. The world has truly lost one of its best.

Re - My Love

I found her in our bedroom upon my return late at night in November. She didn't intend for me to find her - she intended for a paramedic to - but fate had other plans. I dialed 911 as I rushed to her aid, and began performing CPR while waiting for the paramedics to arrive. Fifteen minutes of CPR... alone in the darkness, before they got there. I hoped against all odds that she'd somehow be okay, but in my heart, I knew she was already gone. How could this incredibly kind, warm, beautiful, and loving soul be gone? How could she be dead? How could I be left behind in a world without her?

Make no mistake about it - two people died that night. Physically, I'm still here, but for the past seven months, I've been on pure autopilot. I've been going through the motions of a life, but I'm not living one. I've lost everything. I'm not the person you knew. I'm not the person I knew. I've become a ghost. But this isn't supposed to be all about me... it's about her.

I'm going to open up to all of you, because I've known other people who struggle with suicidal thoughts, and I'm guessing some of you have had experience with it as well - or, at the very least, you know someone who has. If nothing else, it's my hope that what I share today will help someone out there going through such dark times - someone out there who has been fighting the same brave battles against the relentless disease of depression. So, I'm going to take you through every step I've been through in this ongoing process, because I don't believe death & suicide is something that people should shy away from, be ashamed of, or feel like they're only allowed to grieve for X number of days about before they need to start "moving on". Anybody who tells you otherwise is toxic. Same goes for anybody who callously describes suicide as a "selfish act". That's simply uninformed and toxic.

To begin, I want to share some of the words I posted online about a month after she passed away. I went silent on all of my public social media accounts for I-Mockery since November, but I've been slowly trying to keep up with friends and family via my personal FB page (and I know word about what happened has trickled out to some of you as a result). Honestly, everything feels like a gigantic undertaking now, and there are often times when talking to my closest friends and family feels like too much. So, if I couldn't even talk to them, I'm sure you can understand why I haven't been active in public. I miss all of you dearly, but it's just been too much.

So, why share this in public now? Because, I believe it's important for people to have a better understanding of both suicide and the raw feelings of loss. Loss - true loss - is a hard thing to comprehend unless you've experienced it. It's even harder to put into words. How do you convey to people just how much the love of your life meant to you? I've been writing for over 20 years, and I still feel at a loss for words, because there are no words that can sum up Re's beautiful soul - nor the loss I now have to endure for what's left of the rest of my life. There are simply no words strong enough to convey this loss. This is loss in its purest, most devastating form. It is an annihilation of the mind and the body. It rips your spirit right out, leaving you hollow.

So, here's what I wrote on my personal page in mid-December to share with friends and family in an attempt to capture what I was feeling at the time:

Re - My Love

"So many of you have been reaching out to me, and I really do appreciate all the incredibly kind gestures, but everything is completely overwhelming right now, so I've been unable to respond most of your messages, calls, texts, etc. I'm just trying to get through the most basic tasks, constantly breaking into tears, while struggling to process living a life without Re in my arms. Even writing this post has been a struggle. In between the touching send-offs we gave her on both sides of the country, I've been slowly packing up our home and plan on putting everything into storage eventually. Beyond that, I honestly have no idea what I'm supposed to do with my life, where I'm going to live, or what the future holds.

I'm planning on spending the holidays with friends and family, as I know that's what I'm supposed to do. It's the "healthy" thing to do. And while I look forward to seeing them all, I'm not comforted.

Decorations used to be a warm, welcome sight during the winter holiday seasons, but the colorful lights I'm seeing everywhere are dulled, and they're now just a reminder of what I've lost. I don't want to celebrate this year, and I know those close to me aren't expecting me to, but it doesn't make it any easier. Seeing couples walking arm-in-arm together in public, constantly hearing Xmas songs on the radio about longing for loved ones to return for the holidays, eating meals alone, thinking about the ball dropping at midnight on the 31st and not having my love to kiss as we dream of our future together... it's all taken on profound new meaning.

Everything is amplified. It's like the entire universe is screaming, "Here's what you no longer have."

I appreciate how everybody has been saying I'm not alone, and how they're here for me to talk and give me comfort in so many kind ways - everything from offers to bring meals to me and letting me sleep over in their homes, or simply embracing me and checking in from time to time. It all means a lot, and I truly am thankful & touched by all the support, but there is no real comfort to be found right now, and the reality is that I *am* alone. I'm a ghost. I have to somehow accept that. I'm simply beyond heartbroken that she's gone. I didn't know it was possible to cry this much, and I feel absolutely drained.

For more than 20 years, Re was my world, but now I'm seeing the rest of the world moving on without her. People continuing on with their lives, their work, and more... as they should. Posting about their adventures, things that are making them laugh, projects they're involved in... as they should. That's what everyone is supposed to do. People can't be expected to be in mourning 24/7 like I am. They need to move on and I don't begrudge them for it. But moving on is not an option for me.

I just want to be with Re. Instead, I'm left with this crushing asteroid that landed directly on me, and all I want to do is go to sleep and hope to see her in my dreams rather than attempt to lift it off of my chest.

I said it before, but it bears repeating: I don't understand why I'm here, but I'm going to stay, and I'm going to try for her even though I no longer feel any joy, direction, or purpose in life. With any luck, I'll be able to return to work sometime in the new year and attempt to distract myself a bit by sinking my mind into it, but I'm not putting a rush on that at all, and thankfully, neither are my friends & co-workers.

I don't really know where I'm going with any of this, as memories of Re continue to pour from my mind on a constant basis and she's all I think about, but I thought I should give all of you an update on things since I haven't been able to respond to the countless messages individually. Thanks again for caring and listening, and I'll do my best to respond to all of you when I'm more up to it. Until then, take care of yourselves. Love you."

That's where I was in December.

It would take another four months before I was able to clear out our home and put everything into a storage space. Normally, moving out wouldn't have taken so long. Re and I were fairly nomadic (as many of you have seen through our extensive travels that I shared here on I-Mockery), but simply being in the place where she passed away - where we had been living together for years - was incredibly hard. Packing up all the boxes was absolutely dreadful. Every article of clothing, every paper, every piece of artwork, every trinket... everything has some memory of her attached to it, and it's just so gut-wrenchingly sad. I was beyond exhausted from crying all the time, and still am. Keep in mind, I had already gone through two wakes (one for our east coast friends & family, and one for the west coast). I had to write a eulogy for her - the hardest thing I ever wrote in my 20+ years as a writer - and then read it to the attendees of both wakes. Then, I had to get through the holidays. More firsts without her. I was beyond drained, and still had an entire home of our things - our very lives together - to pack up.

I honestly don't even understand how I made it through those first months, let alone the ones since then.

I remember constantly wishing I could just set everything on fire and leave that place behind, but I knew that wasn't logical. So, I took whatever baby steps I could. Some days I couldn't even get through filling up a single little box. "Fine..." I told myself, "...maybe I'll get through it tomorrow." So, that's what I did. I endured being in that place for as long as I could, packing up our things, until finally it was done.

In February, I had to endure my first Valentine's Day without her. I tried to turn it into a positive thing with the following post:

"Like every holiday, today is incredibly hard. I miss Re more than anything, and we had so many wonderful Valentine's Day celebrations in the past. I know lots of you miss her too, so I wanted to share something today that none of you have ever seen before. This is a video that Re had me shoot a few years ago. After we filmed it, she decided not to bother posting it online - as she often did with many of her random projects. I recently found the footage and went ahead and put it together with the "Cheap Sunglasses" track by RAC that she was dancing to. Re loved dancing, and I loved shooting this footage of her dancing through our neighborhood on a perfectly sunny day. I can only hope she's smiling and dancing somewhere better than here. Seeing her in the sunshine, so full of life, it makes me cry every time I watch it, but I hope you all enjoy another glimpse of her beautiful spirit. Thanks for watching, and take care."

She was just so incredibly wonderful. More than you could possibly imagine. More than any photo, video, or words could possibly illustrate.

In late March, with the help of some good friends, I finished putting everything from our home into a storage space. I was simultaneously gutted and relieved. Leaving behind our home forever - the last place I saw her alive - was so immensely difficult. I just couldn't bring myself to shut the front door and walk away. By that time, I was already used to bawling on a daily basis, but I was still surprised by just how much every little thing could hurt.

Before leaving the apartment, I held my own private candlelight vigil for her, right where I found her. I cried my eyes out, and told her all the things I wished I could tell her again in person. How much I was sorry for. How much I wished I could've changed the past. How much I wished I could've done more to help her out of the darkness. How the world was absolute agony without her.

I was crying so hard, and hearing it echo through the empty rooms of what used to be a home filled with love and life... it just crushed me. But I still didn't want to leave. Even though it was empty and full of sorrow, this was the last place I ever saw her. This is the last place I ever kissed her. This is the last place I ever held her in my arms and told her how much I loved her. How could I leave such a place behind? How could there be anything better "out there" in the rest of the world, when I knew she was gone? As hard and emotional as it was, I knew this was a necessary step, so with tears running down my face as I called to her, telling her not to stay there and to come with me, I shut the door on our home. I hoped she was now at peace, leaving that place behind, just as I was leaving it too.

And even after I left our home behind, the sight of what was left of our lives together - dozens of boxes crammed into a storage space - hit me HARD. Over two decades together, and this was all that was left? Boxes? How could this be real?

But it was real. It couldn't possibly be more real.

There was one other box, however, that was far more important than anything in that storage space. This was a box I had been carrying with me in my backpack everywhere I went since November. It was a box containing Re's ashes.

After the first wake, per her wishes, Re was cremated. Kind and generous until the very end, she was an organ donor, and I'm happy to report they were able to use some of her remains to help other people in need. In death, she still gave life. I hope beyond hope she knows that somehow. I urge all of you to sign up to be an organ donor was well. There is no greater gift.

But now I had her remains. What was I to do with these ashes? Put them up on a mantle or shelf in whatever future home I end up in? Leave them in a cemetery? While there's no right or wrong answer for what someone should do with the remains of a loved one, none of those aforementioned options felt right to me. So, I decided to do what did feel right.

I would begin the process of spreading her ashes, a little bit at a time, in different places around the world.

Re was the most adventurous person I have ever known. EVERY amazing adventure I've shared with you over the years was because of Re. Sure, I'm an entertainer & performer by nature, so I have no shame or fear about getting in front of people and doing crazy things, but it was Re who actually got me to go out and see the world. I'm a homebody. I'll get out whenever it's time to perform or shoot a video, but for the most part, I spend time at home writing. Re was the opposite. While she didn't like big crowds due to her social anxiety (which she constantly overcame), she loved exploration. She was amazing at research - always finding new places for us to visit. More importantly, she got me to be less of a hermit, and got me to go on the greatest adventures of my life. New Zealand, South Korea, London, Hawaii, multiple road trips around the country... they were all because of her. Moving to California and having some of the most amazing experiences of my life? Again, it was all thanks to Re. She kicked my ass forward into the world in the best possible ways.

Re - My Love

So, it only seemed right that I honor her spirit by taking her ashes on more adventures - some to our favorite spots, and others to places we always dreamed of visiting together. The first place I would spread her ashes HAD to be extra special, so I decided to take her to the annual cherry blossom festival in Japan. We had always dreamed of going there, and actually had plans to visit this year, but those plans were tragically canceled forever.

Still, she deserved to be in Japan, and I didn't care how hard it would be on me - she was going to get there. So, in April, I took her to Japan. Allow me to share the two posts I made about the Japan trip on my personal FB page, along with some photos of the two beautiful locations I found for her ashes:

"It's been a while since I've checked in, so I wanted to give all of you an update on things. I've returned from my trip to Japan, where I went to begin the process of spreading Re's ashes in different locations. It was beyond emotionally exhausting, so I've been recuperating since returning earlier this month, and I'm trying to get back to a regular work schedule. I wanted to start in Japan, because Re and I always dreamed of traveling there during the spring for their annual cherry blossom festival, and we had planned on going there this year. She thought the cherry blossoms were absolutely beautiful and even had some on one of her tattoos. It was to be our biggest adventure together yet.

So, I wanted to honor Re by initially spreading her ashes in a very special place in Japan, under a cherry blossom tree. I took her to the Philosopher's Path in Kyoto. After researching the location online, I knew it was special, and I had high hopes for it. Keep in mind; after arriving in Japan, I had already been searching around elsewhere - from amazing temples in Kyoto, to a hike way up a hillside in Hoshinoya where I was introduced to a monk who was kind enough to offer me a place to spread her ashes. But nice as those other locations were, they just didn't feel right... and that's what I was waiting for. Something that felt right. A perfect cherry blossom tree.

If you're wondering why a cherry blossom tree, it's not simply because she thought they were beautiful. It's because of how they're viewed in Japanese culture. "The significance of the cherry blossom tree in Japanese culture goes back hundreds of years. In their country, the cherry blossom represents the fragility and the beauty of life. It's a reminder that life is almost overwhelmingly beautiful, but that it is also tragically short."

Overwhelmingly beautiful and tragically short.

I'm not sure anything encapsulates Re's life better than that.

I walked the path in its entirety three times on our trip, and while the weather was beautiful on the first day, it was also crowded with visitors as expected. As you can imagine, I wanted time and privacy to spread her ashes. I had found a nearby weeping cherry tree - a Shidarezakura - for her, and I returned on a day that it was raining, as I knew there wouldn't be many people around. The tree was located on a small side street, just south of the Philosopher's Path. It struck me as the right one, because it constantly caught the attention of people up on the path, so they would break away to walk down to the tree just see it up close.

It was a gorgeous tree, with delicate petals constantly falling down in the breeze, covering a serene little courtyard like snow. I spread some of her ashes beneath the tree and didn't want to leave. But I still had another week in Japan, and was hoping I might find a second peaceful spot for her. I did. I'll share details and photos of the second spot sometime in the near future, but in the meantime, please enjoy these photos of her first location in Kyoto, Japan near the Philosopher's Path.

I wish she could've gone there with me in life, but I hope she'd be happy with the first location I chose for her in death. I promised my love we'd go this year. We did. I'd give anything for it to have been under different circumstances - circumstances where I could've enjoyed the trip, instead of constantly seeing that beautiful country through tear-filled eyes. But this trip wasn't about me... it was about her. It was about starting to spread her around in special places that were deserving of being home to such a kind, generous, warm, and loving soul. I miss her every day. I cry for her every day. I just hope she's at peace. I hope she loves her first two resting spots in Japan. I hope she'll love the other spots I'll find for her moving forward.

I have to thank my friends John and Austin for accompanying me on the trip to Japan. They gave me my space and privacy on the days I was spreading her ashes, or when I simply needed time to myself, but it was nice having their company around for the rest of the trip to help keep my spirits up and help me continue moving forward. And thanks to all of you who've constantly been checking in on me. I know I'm not the same person anymore, and I'm not well. I know I've been a total shut-in, and have a lot of messages I need to respond to, but I still appreciate your kindnesses more than you'll ever know. Thanks for reading, and I'll talk to you all again soon with details and photos of location #2."

Photos of where I took her in Kyoto:

That was the first location post. Here's the second one:

"I recently shared details about the first place I spread Re's ashes during my trip in Japan. If you haven't already read it, please take some time to do so when you have a chance, as it explains a lot about my reasons for the trip there and why I selected that first spot for her. Today, I want to share details with you about the second location I found for her in Japan... one that ended up surprising me, in that it was very much like what I had imagined in my dreams when I had begun to plan the trip.

After I spread Re's ashes near the Philosopher's Path in Kyoto, we continued with the rest of our trip - stopping by in Nara to see the impressive Todai-Ji temple, riding the bullet train past Mount Fuji, and then exploring different areas in Tokyo. It's a beautiful country, and I'm sure I would've enjoyed it immensely had I traveled there with Re in life, but after spreading her ashes the first time, I was already feeling detached from the rest of the trip. I was ready to fly back home and start planning more places to take her. But we originally booked the trip for longer, and the wait turned out to be a good thing, because on the final day in Japan, I found another place for her.

From what I gathered, most travelers don't visit Narita for sightseeing... they stay there for its proximity to the Narita (NRT) airport. However, I did some research and found out that there was a stunning temple and park nearby - Naritasan Temple. Of all the temples and parks we visited in Japan, this was easily my favorite. It had impressive statues, winding paths through the woods, flowing water, and best of all... hardly any people.

After exploring the temple, I headed into the park, exploring one of the paths that apparently led to a body of water. After a little while, I found a stream running downhill that ran directly into to a large, beautiful pond. The place was like something out of a dream - a gazebo overlooking a large pond with multiple streams filtering into it, as turtles and huge, colorful koi fish swam everywhere. And sitting on the edge of the pond just behind the gazebo? A Yoshino cherry blossom tree in full bloom - its fragile petals falling into the water below with the light breeze. This scene was closer to what I had dreamed of for her than anything else on the trip.

Her first tree was serene and solemn. It was Re. Her second tree was ethereal and magical. It was Re.

John was with me when I found the tree, and the second I saw it, I knew what I was going to do. Not revealing my intentions, I told him to go on without me, and he didn't ask any questions. At this point in the trip, he (and Austin) were well accustomed to giving me my space when I needed it.

While the pond area was virtually empty, some women dressed in traditional kimonos were posing in front of the tree, for what were surely some lovely photos. So, I sat down on a nearby stone and waited patiently as I could for them to finish taking their pictures. After they were done, I had the entire area to myself. It was time to spread Re's ashes once more.

Bawling once again, I spread her ashes at the base of the tree, as petals continued to fall and the koi fish swarmed near it in the water below. It was a gorgeous spot, like something out of a dreamlike movie scene, and I'm glad I found it for her.

Many people have asked me about the trip giving me peace of mind, and I wish I could say otherwise, but peace of mind isn't something I've come close to finding for myself after losing her. I don't ever expect to. Closure doesn't exist for the living. But I do hope I've at least found some peace for her with these first two locations in Japan.

I hope she knows that I found her a tree that was a stunning amalgam of her two favorite kinds - a cherry blossom and a weeping willow - in an absolutely tranquil location.

I hope she knows that I found her a tree that was full of life, where turtles and koi fish will forever keep her company as it overlooks a dreamlike pond.

I hope she knows that I will make sure all of her remaining ashes are spread in other magical places. She deserved so much more in life. So much more. All I can do now is honor her beautiful spirit by trying to give her some of that "much more" in death. She carried such weight on her shoulders her entire life. A weight that many of us can't comprehend, because it was the weight of an awful disease - severe, clinical depression. A disease that clouded her from seeing hope. A disease that made her feel guilty and ashamed about things that wouldn't even phase the average person. A disease that even made her believe she was a burden, when nothing could be further from the truth. That weight is now removed from her existence, and I continue to hope she's dancing among the stars, like she did in life on the good days when she was able to push those awful thoughts to the back of her mind. I tried helping her bear all that weight in life, and now it's my turn to bear it alone for her.

Please understand, this weight isn't a burden. It's an honor. It was in life. It is in death. But there's no denying it was heartbreaking in life, and it's now far beyond heartbreaking in death. It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do. That November asteroid is still on my chest, and I imagine it will forever remain there.

Regardless of the toll it has already taken on me, I want to do this for her. I need to do this for her. She gave me so much more in life than anyone could possibly ask of their love. Re carried an immense weight throughout her life; I saw it firsthand. Now I carry the weight of her remains wherever I go. The weight of honoring her memory. The weight of finding peaceful resting spots for her.

It's not a fair trade-off.

The weight I carry is light by comparison."

Photos of where I took her in Narita:

So, those were the first two locations I took her to, along with what I had to say about them. I wanted them to be special, and having now been there, I believe they are.

More time has passed since then, and with it, more incredibly painful firsts have taken place. Particularly in May. Here's what I wrote about it:

Re - My Love

"It's been six months. Six months to the day. Six months of crying every day. Often, every hour. My body and mind are exhausted beyond anything I've ever known before. The love of my life should be here with me. We should be going out tonight to celebrate her birthday. We should be out on a weekend getaway somewhere for another new adventure. But instead, it's grieving. Six months. Six months of my chest feeling like its caved in on itself. I just miss her. I miss our life together.

I want to talk to her about all the shows, movies, art, and music she's missed out on. I want to see her face light up as we go look at some more hilariously adorable pugs. I want to see her eyes grow wide with wonder about the universe as we visit more places like JPL. I want to see her beautiful smile when she gets to order her favorite giant fruit & cheese plate and try to make it last all week, when we know it'll last a day or two at best. I want to see her laugh when I still manage to surprise her with another birthday present she never saw coming. I want to see her.

Having the first six months since she passed coincide with her birthday and Mother's Day... it's a lot. And not just for me. Take care of yourselves today, and try to remember just how wonderful Re was. Try to celebrate her life in some way. Share a story about her, look at her amazing artwork, have a slice of cake... whatever feels right.

And while we can't give her any birthday gifts, don't forget she always loved the Special Olympics and St. Jude's Children's Hospital. So, if you have the means to do so, please consider making a donation to either (or both) of those organizations. I know it would make her smile.

Six months ago, Re left this world. I can only hope that she's found the kind of peace that life was unable to bestow upon her.

Happy Birthday, my love."

That day was brutal. But this entire process has been brutal. The word "devastation" has taken on a totally new weight and meaning for me. So what can you do when you're hit with such a destructive blow? You set the smallest goals for yourself.

"Wake up today."

"Breathe today."

"Get out and buy some groceries today."

They may not seem like big things to those of you who don't suffer from depression, or to those of you who aren't grieving, but believe me... these baby steps can feel HUGE when you are. Like I said before... everything is overwhelming. Claim whatever victories you can, no matter how small and insignificant they may seem.

Bottom line: If something can help get you to the next day, do it. Making it to the next day is always a victory.

Knowing that her birthday was going to be extraordinarily difficult, I made a plan to do something about it in advance. Here's what I wrote after I got through that day:

"As expected, last Sunday was extremely hard. Her birthday, Mother's Day, and six months since she passed... all taking place at once. All firsts of an emotionally devastating nature. Now, before I continue, I want to thank all of you who reached out to me that day. Even though I wasn't up for responding to anything, I read every single comment that was left behind (just as I've done with each of these posts), and it was all very touching. As you can probably imagine, I didn't want to be around anyone that day, so I decided to drive down to Laguna to pay a visit to a virtually hidden beach that Re and I loved - The Thousand Steps Beach.

The name comes from the fact that there's an extremely steep stone staircase leading down to the beach, and while it's not actually a thousand steps, it can feel like it if you try to run back up them. The nice thing about the beach is that you wouldn't even know it exists if you drove by it on the highway. There's a somewhat rusty old metal gate at the top of the staircase, surrounded by lots of vegetation blocking any potential view of the steps or the beach down below from the road.

So, how did I learn about this hidden beach? From Re, my favorite adventurous spirit, of course. She loved reading (she was by far the speediest reader I ever met) and exploring, so she would often conduct research online to find amazing new places for us to visit. The first time we went to the Thousand Steps Beach, we were shocked by just how secluded it really was. There were maybe six people on the entire beach that day, so it felt like we had this amazing, secret place all to ourselves. Perfect.

Once on the beach, you're surrounded by huge cliffs with absurdly lavish houses atop them, and on the other side, nothing but soft sand and blue ocean. It was our favorite beach in Southern California, and felt like one of the best-kept secrets we were fortunate enough to know about.

Last Sunday, I took her remains with me down to that beach. I take her with me almost everywhere as it is, and on that day of all days, I absolutely had to be with her in any way I could. Just the two of us. Just the way it used to be. So... to the Thousand Steps Beach we went together once more.

Unsurprisingly, when I arrived early on Sunday morning, there were hardly any people around, so I went walking south on the beach towards an oceanfront cave that I remembered from our previous trips. It's an actual cave you can walk through during low tide, and halfway through it, there's an opening leading out to the ocean. If you're feeling adventurous, there are more rocks you can climb over, which will reward you with some incredible views. Sure, there are warning signs telling you it's private beach property, but the few people who venture out there always ignore them, for the beach & ocean don't belong to any one selfish individual. I've talked with one of the lifeguards before, and he told me he and his co-workers begrudgingly make multiple trips through the cave and past the rock formations every day, as people often lose track of time and get stuck out there during high tide.

If the beach is considered secluded, it's almost guaranteed that the climbable rock formations after exiting the center portion of the cave will be completely isolated. From that point on, you have stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, tide pools, and even some small lagoon-like inlets. It was in this spot, on the exterior cliff walls of the cave, overlooking the ocean in the sunlight, that I realized I had found the next place to spread some of Re's ashes. I wasn't planning on it that day, but that's how this is supposed to happen. When it feels right. That's one of the reasons I take her with me almost everywhere.

I removed my sandals, and climbed up the outer rock wall a bit to where some ice plants were beginning to bloom with purple flowers. They were growing enough out of harm's way so the ocean water wouldn't reach them during high tide. It was here that I spread some of her ashes around. We often had nice apartments in life, but now she had the kind of ocean-front home that I dreamed of being able to give her someday. I just wish it could've happened while she was still here with me, rather than under such unbearably heavy-hearted circumstances.

As I spread her ashes, I told Re how I loved her, how I missed her, and wished her a happy birthday. It's hard to say what had more flowing water that day... the ocean or my eyes. All I can say is I hope the soothing sound of endless waves crashing upon the shoreline - a sound that gave us some incredibly relaxing naps together on our beach excursions over the years - now helps put her soul at ease.

I hope you've enjoyed seeing these photos from the newest place I found for her; I hope it's another spot that she would love. It might be a while before I'm able to take her remains to a fourth location, but I'll be back with more updates whenever I feel up to it. Until then, the next time you go swimming in the ocean, take a moment and think of Re. She absolutely loved swimming, and I'm glad the last time she did, some playful dolphins swam by her to say hello.

As always, thanks for reading and take care."

Photos of where I took her at The Thousand Steps Beach:

So that brings us up to current time. I wish I could say I do, but I don't feel any better than I did back in November, and I don't expect to for a long time. Maybe never. Loss like this changes you forever. It bears repeating - closure is a myth. There is only enduring. I'm currently in a tunnel, and as much as I want to come out the other end, I'm not sure I'll be able to. But I'm going to continue to try. For her. For family. For friends. For all of you.

You have to understand something:


She fought her disease her entire life with unfathomable courage. Doctors, therapy sessions, hospital visits, reading, exercise, medicine - you name it, she would try it, no matter hard or scary it was. Why? Because she always wanted to better herself. She wanted to face her demons and life itself. She was everything good and kind that I aspired to be in life. Her care for others and capacity for compassion knew no limits. I honestly saw her as the future of our species - a next evolution. She was the best of us. Anyone who has ever said I'm friendly, or kind, or anything remotely complimentary... I believe it's all because of her. She made me a better person. It's just so goddamned tragic that she couldn't see how good she was.... that this disease clouded her from realizing just how truly amazing she was. How inspiring she was. How brave she was. She touched so many lives, always helping other people with depression, anxiety, and more, all while suffering from it herself. Why? Because she didn't want anybody else suffer like she did. She even helped OTHER people who were suicidal, and guess what? They're still here. I know it, because I see them talking with friends and posting online constantly. It's not fair that she isn't still here. It's just not fair that the world could be so hard on the mind of such a loving, talented, warm soul. It's just not fair.

In addition to suffering from depression, Re had severe society anxiety. You probably wouldn't even know it if you ever met her, because she had an internal switch she could flip, and come off as if she were perfectly comfortable in any society situation. She could be asking someone the most insightful questions about their life, while simultaneously screaming on the inside. There's an episode of Seinfeld where Elaine gets stuck on a subway train with people standing all around her, and she doesn't say a word, but you get to hear her inner monologue as she screams and curses the train. I'll never forget how hard Re laughed at this scene, as she stood up and pointed at the TV proclaiming, "That's me!" And it was.

Again, she didn't want to let the depression disease or society anxiety get the best of her; she wanted to be brave and fight it. So, be brave and fight it she did. She took two months of vocal lessons. Not because she was planning on becoming a vocalist, but she wanted to see if she could be alone in a room with a stranger and actually sing a cappella in front of them. That'd be hard for most people who don't even have social anxiety! She took acting boot camps. Not because she thought she'd become an actress (although she absolutely excelled at it), but because she wanted to expose herself by being surrounded by other people, and performing with them while others watched. She randomly had me film videos of us playing songs together. Not because she wanted to be a YouTube star (although she should've been), but because she wanted to prove to herself that she sing in front of the world, even if she didn't have a classically-trained voice. She played my beloved assistant nurse, Miss Diagnosis, on Doc Mock's Movie Mausoleum. Not because she particularly wanted to be on the show, but because she wanted to both help me and prove to herself that she could handle it. She took improv classes at UCB, just like me - and honestly, she was way funnier. But again, she didn't plan on being a comedic performer, she just wanted to prove to herself she could get up and perform in front of a crowded theatre. She even got to share the stage with the wonderful Robin Williams one night (who also suffered from depression and ended his life), and he said some incredibly kind words of encouragement to her for future performances. You could tell he recognized a kindred spirit in Re, as he made a beeline for her right after the show. He was proud of her just for being there, believing she could keep doing it and do more. It meant so much to her.

She always pushed herself.

And please understand, Re did not want to die. Re loved life. She said it countless times, and I frequently saw it in her eyes over all our years together. She thought the world was a magical place, and always wanted to continue to explore and learn more about it. A suicide of this nature isn't about hating life... it's about hating the disease of depression - hating the tricks it plays on your mind. Hating the pain it causes. For many, it's a lifelong battle, and it can certainly wear you down. It can convince you that you're a burden on your loved ones. It can convince you you're no good. It can convince you things are hopeless. It's a cruel disease, and it can be absolutely relentless with the lies it tells you. Believe me, you don't live with someone for over 20 years, sharing a life so closely with her, and not see the toll that the disease of depression takes. So, we fought it together. Problem is, that disease - that awful liar - could still make her feel absolutely alone, even with me by her side. That's how cruel this disease can truly be.

It's not meant to be fought alone... you have to be vigilant and fight it together with friends, family, and whatever else helps get you through the day. Honestly, it's friends and family that need to do the reaching out and much of the legwork, because people who suffer from clinical depression, often struggle just to get out of bed. If that's hard for them to accomplish, surely you can understand how hard it is for them to ask you or anybody else for help. You have to keep your eyes open, you have to look for the warning signs, and above all else, you must to be willing to take that first step and ask, "Are you okay? I noticed you seem to be struggling lately. I'm here if you need me. Is there anything I can do to help?" It may not feel natural to you, but it's absolutely crucial. While it's true, your actions may not be able to help, it's absolutely guaranteed that inaction will accomplish nothing. So, try to help. Take a chance. Please, if you know or suspect someone is suffering from depression, take that first step.

I'm struck by just how much extra time alone I now have to fill every day with. I spent over 20 years waking up next to, eating meals with, and holding onto the most amazing person I've ever known. And now, the void she's left behind is too tremendous for words, and it's absolutely unbearable.

It's such a strange, sad thing. I'm working as much as I can; if I'm lucky enough to not be thinking about what happened to her while I'm preoccupied with my daily tasks, my mind immediately goes there as soon as they're completed. I try to help pass the time with music, movies, and shows, but they can only help but so much. And I need to swim in this grief. I can't deny it. That's not the way to handle the grieving process. You have to face it. When it feels too hard, I remind myself of how brave she was, facing her own demons day after day, and I try to press forward. It's so strange to simultaneously want to think of nothing but her AND to not want to think about her at all. These are the things your mind does to you after going through a traumatic experience like this. And make no mistake about it, this is trauma.

I've gone through a wide array of the rawest emotions imaginable, and I'm often angry that my heart didn't just give out the night I found her, so I could've joined her. "Why didn't you just die right there with her? Isn't that what happens when people are truly in love?" Awful.

Re - My Love

I always dreamed of us growing old together. I never feared getting old, because I knew she'd be with me. Now I'm terrified of a world and a life without her, because we weren't just a team, or a couple, or lovers... we were best friends. Absolute best friends. We all expect to lose our loved ones sometime during the tail end of our lives, but how do we deal with that loss at a much younger age? When it's completely unexpected, and when there were supposed to be so many years still ahead of us? How do we pass all that time alone? God, I just want to join her, but for whatever reason, it's not my time. I don't know why, but it's not my time. So I'm holding on for her... to try and somehow make her proud.

I've also had to go through the excruciating process of letting some of her things go. Believe me, there's a lot that I've held on to, but I did have to find a way to pass on some of her other belongings. She was one of the most talented artists I've ever known - and absolutely the purest of them. While so many artists go for the easy sale in art galleries by painting what's popular in the scene, like references to pop culture (which she could've easily done), she chose to do her own thing and tell stories through her melancholic artwork. You can see a fraction of her huge body of work on her strangepuppets.com web site. She was absolutely brilliant, and it's yet another tragic part of her life that she wasn't able to make a living at creating art. She showed in many galleries over the years, but didn't achieve the kind of success or notoriety we all knew she deserved. I always believed that she would get there if she kept at it. But I needed to let go of some of her art supplies including paints, brushes, and canvases; so, with the help of a friend, I donated them to a shelter for displaced families & recovering homeless people. I think she'd like to know that her paints are being used to help people in need who are trying to get back on their feet. Seems like exactly the kind of thing she would want to do.

Re - My Love
"Party's Over" - one of her many beautiful, yet heartbreaking paintings.

And I'm haunted by "what ifs". I think awful things like, "What if she never met me? My life would've been worse, but maybe she would've found somebody who could've helped her stay alive, and that's all that matters." "What if I wasn't so flawed?" "What if I had reached out to more people for help?" "What if I was more successful and could've helped shield her from many of the stressors in her world?" "What if she had been able to create her art for a living?" "What if we had kids? Maybe they would've given her a stronger feeling of purpose so she wouldn't leave the world behind." "What if I had returned home earlier on that awful November night?"

The "what ifs" are just horrendous. It's those "what ifs" that make me feel like I'm constantly holding my breath, and I have to remind myself to exhale. It's those "what ifs" that make me curse tales of time travel, because in reality, I know there is no going back and undoing what has been done. It's those "what ifs" that keep hitting me in huge waves where I can't help but burst into tears.

My mind has tricked me so many times into thinking she's going to show up at my door one day. I catch myself wanting to call and text her when I see something interesting, or read some news I'd love to share with her. Today, I almost bought her a snack at the grocery store, just like I always used to enjoy surprising her with whenever I came back home. More than seven months since she's passed, and I'm still having to remind myself she's not here. I sometimes try to escape in my mind for a bit, as if she's still here and ready to respond to me. But I can't expect responses any longer... talking to her is now a one-way conversation. That's not a real conversation.

And believe me, I do talk to her constantly. I wear her wedding rings around my neck, and talk to her every day as I clutch them tightly in my hands while trying to keep the tears at bay.

So many shows, movies, music releases, world news and more that I want to talk to her about. I want to have those wonderful long conversations like we always did... talking about everything in our world together. I miss comforting each other and laughing about all the absurdities of life. As many of you know, she had an incredible sense of humor. I loved her voice, and I loved her laugh more than anything. Absolutely NOBODY made me laugh and smile constantly the way she did. She saw things in such a unique way, and was able to express herself - both in conversation and through her art - better than anyone I've ever known. I miss it all so much. It's such a lonely existence now. Going to see movies alone. Cooking meals for one. Doing every little thing by myself, with no love to talk to about it at the end of the day. So many little things in times like this can hit you unimaginably hard. I keep going through old text messages, receipts, emails, posts, photos, videos, and more... noticing the dates. I can't help but think of them in terms of "before Re passed" and "after Re passed".

That's how I think of myself now too - "Roger before Re passed" and "Roger after Re passed". How can I not?

Re - My Love

I miss looking into her gorgeous eyes. I miss her ultra-expressive eyebrows and dark bangs. I miss her impeccable sense of style and fashion, and how she could pull of any look. I miss seeing her perfect face and flawless skin. I miss her wonderful lips and bright smile. She was like a hybrid Audrey Hepburn and Audrey Tautou. Just a stunning and adorable person who you felt lucky to be around... to be allowed into her private world. But her exterior beauty couldn't compare to how beautiful her soul was. She was as humble as they come. She simply wanted to help people, work in a creative capacity, and have some peace in life. Whether it was supporting the Special Olympics, helping out at food shelters, or standing up for people who couldn't stand up for themselves - Re wanted to be a part of it. She wanted others to share her empathy and compassion. She wanted other people to be brave. It was so special knowing her that closely. I knew everything about her, and she knew everything about me. We accepted each other. And she gave me all the love she had. I can't believe I got to be her husband.

Nobody that wonderful should be tortured constantly by the disease of depression. NOBODY.

All I ever wanted in life was to find my one person... that one magical person who makes it all worth it. I found her. And now, I've lost her at far too young an age, and I'm left trying to understand why I'm still here. I'm on autopilot now, and nothing feels right. All I want to do is lay down on the couch with her again, just like we did every single night - holding her close and being at peace together, regardless of what happened during the day. But there is no peace. I hope that changes, believe me. I hope I eventually find some semblance of purpose. Some shred of peace.

Since her passing, I've been trying to keep up with the world... but in a different role. I've been in the role of silent observer, rather than the person who always shared his opinions on news, movies, art, music, and more. The person who only wanted to make your day a little better by making you laugh or sharing some oddball obscurity from yesteryear for you to read about. The role of an entertainer, and hopefully, a kindred spirit. I've been writing and entertaining people for over 20 years now, both on I-Mockery and other mediums. I just haven't been up for any of it in recent times. I'm a different person, and I'm trying so hard to reconcile it. I'm trying to bring myself back into some kind of focus. I'm trying not to be the hermit crab, curled up in its shell, fearful of what may happen if it dares to stick a single limb out into the sunshine. I'm trying to be brave like she always was. I'm trying to get through today. I'm trying to get through this week. I'm trying for her.

But please don't mourn me; mourn the loss of her. She's no longer here, and that is a huge loss for the world.

Re - My Love

Re was the most wonderful, unique, funny, selfless, intelligent, creative, supportive and loving person I've ever met, and she was my entire world. Over 20 years. My entire world. My only hope now is that she is among the stars, continuing to be the incredibly adventurous spirit that she was in life.

Away from the things of man...

I love you, my angel. I hope beyond hope that I can one day be with you again. It's all I want.



Before I conclude this writing, I have to thank all the friends and family who've been nothing but supportive during these unbearable months. I'm sure many of them don't even think they've helped at all, due to my being inconsolable, but I assure you - everything matters. Please keep checking in on me. Please keep asking if I need anything. Please invite me out to do things. Even though I'm often unable to respond, let alone leave the house, the simplest things like checking in to see how I'm doing, asking if I need anything, and showing you care mean *far* more than anyone can know.

I now need to ask some VERY IMPORTANT things of all of you:

1) I know I already spoke about this, but it bears repeating: If you know somebody who struggles with depression, PLEASE reach out to them. If you're not sure, but suspect someone is struggling with depression, PLEASE reach out to them. Take a chance. It matters more than you can possibly imagine, and it often feels hard (if not impossible) for people who have depression to ask for help. So, if you know or even suspect they're struggling, help them however you can. Depression is a real disease, and it needs to be fought bravely like one - not just by those who have it, but by the friends and family at their sides to help give them strength. If any of you want to learn more regarding the subject of suicide, here's an excellent article about how to look at suicide differently.

2) If you struggle with depression yourself, please try to find the strength to reach out to other people, and don't be afraid to ask for help. That strength is in you. It has already taken you this far in life, so it can take you further. I know it's not easy. Asking for help can feel harder than just about anything, but there are always people who will help. If you can, try to make plans for something you'd like to do in the future. Give yourself things to look forward to; you deserve them. And yes, when all else fails, you can always call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 as well (and if you live outside of the United States, here's a list of International Suicide Lines). Consider it another tool at your disposal whenever times are tough. Please stay with us. Believe me, if I'm still here after all the things I had to see and do on that awful night last November - and after all the things I've had to endure since then - you can stay here too. Hold on. PLEASE, hold on. Friends and loved ones are just a text or phone call away. They can and will help you.

3) If you're able to, please take a moment to make donations to Re's two favorite organizations: The Special Olympics ( http://www.specialolympics.org ) and St. Jude's Children's Hospital ( http://www.stjude.org/give.html ). She loved supporting both of them, and I know it would make her smile to know that all of you were now doing the same.

4) If you would like some of Re's artwork to remember her by, she still has her Society6 store online that has a variety of prints, shirts, hoodies, laptop/phone cases, mugs, pillows, totes, and more. I was glad when she put that store online, because it featured some of my favorite works that she had created in recent years.

Okay, since I know some of you are wondering and bound to ask, I'll go ahead and address this now: In regards to I-Mockery, I'm honestly not sure what the future holds for the site itself. I don't know if I'll continue writing on this site, as its two-decade history is completely entwined with her. She helped out with so much of it over the years in ways that many of you probably didn't even realize - costumes, photos, games, convention booths, convincing me to shoot Doc Mock's Movie Mausoleum... she even designed the I-Mockery logo ages ago. There's simply no way to understate just how much she contributed to every facet of my life. I miss writing on here; this place has been a precious outlet for me that I've always worked on out of pure love, and the desire to converse with like-minded weirdos. And believe me, I loved sharing my admiration for all the hilarious & fascinating oddities in life with you - especially during our beloved annual "Two Months of Halloween" celebration that became such a big part of your traditions. I miss appearing on other shows and podcasts. I miss performing on stage. I miss it all, but it's just too hard right now, so please give me time.

Maybe I'll continue I-Mockery in the future. Maybe I'll start an entirely new site and simply leave I-Mockery online solely as an archive. Maybe I'll do nothing. It's hard to say, and I'm not going to put any pressure on myself about it. And please don't be afraid to reach out to me; a lot of people don't know what to say (and that's okay, because there are no words for something like this, nor any words that can bring her back), but you don't need to walk on egg shells around me either. We can talk about what happened with Re. It's okay. We can talk about fun things too. It's okay. You can leave a message for me in the comments section below, on my Twitter, or simply send me an email if you like. If we know each other online, I'd love to hear from you. If we don't know each other, I'd still love to hear from you. If you know me in person and live somewhat nearby, check in on me. Invite me to hang out. I may not be able to respond for a while, and I may not be up for going out, but I read every message that people have already sent me so far. Sometimes it helps just to know others are thinking about you, or to simply hear from a friendly voice, especially in the most unimaginably dark times like these.

Since last November, I noticed I've lost a significant number of followers, and I'm sure some of you thought I simply abandoned this place because I didn't care about it anymore. Nothing could be further than the truth. I do care, as this place and all the work I've done on it over the years has been a big part of my life. All I ask is you please be patient as I slowly try to find ways to reintegrate myself with the world, and please don't give up on me. Everything has changed, so I'm going to need help and time, both enduring this miserable marathon, and figuring out what I'm doing in the future.

For now, what I can tell you is that I've been staying with friends until I figure out where I'm going to live and try to plant new roots. I'm also working on the Cyanide & Happiness adventure game we held a Kickstarter for, before any of this happened last year. I made a commitment to that project, and I'm going to see it through. I'm working with them to make it what will hopefully be one of the best adventure games you'll ever play. Honestly, the work has been a welcome distraction while I continue to navigate my way through this excruciating grieving process, and my good friends at C&H have been incredibly patient and understanding the entire time.

Re - My Love

I know this has been an incredibly long piece, and I can't thank you enough for reading all of it. I'm pouring my heart out here, and I'm sure it's not an easy thing to read - it certainly wasn't an easy thing to write. It's taken me more than half a year to write and share this with you. I hope this helps you understand a bit more about depression, suicide, loss, and yes, true love. I hope it helps you in some ways, or some loved ones of yours. And speaking of which, please share it with anybody you think it may help. Again, thank you. Thank you for your time, for your friendships, and for all the support over the years. I hope we can laugh again together someday.

I now leave you with a quote from Finding Forrester that has always stuck with me, and now rings truer than ever before:

"The rest of those who have gone before us cannot steady the unrest of those to follow."

Take care of yourselves, please keep Re in your hearts, and I'll talk with you more when I'm able.




Living In Saudade.

NOTE: If you haven't read the initial story above, please scroll to the top of this page to read it first.

Hello, friends. I haven't posted on here since June of last year, and I've been through a hell of a lot since then as I continue to grieve for my sweet Re, so I thought I would update all of you on what I've been up to. While I haven't been able to respond to all your comments, please know I read all of them (along with the emails and messages on social media), and I can't tell you how much it all means to me. Please don't worry about "finding the right words to say", as there are no magical words that can undo what happened; simply hearing from all of you is a nice comfort, and I'll take comfort wherever I can find it these days.

It's honestly difficult to know where to begin with this update. I guess the "good news" - if there is such a thing anymore - is that I got through 2018. That was the first year... the longest year of my life. I wish I could say things feel easier or better in the slightest, but I'd be lying if I did. I mourn for her constantly, and I'm still reduced to tears whenever memories of her come flooding in - and everything reminds me of her. I've been doing my best this past year to grasp on to those little fibers of normalcy - slowly pulling myself back up into the world of friends, family, and work. Nothing feels right, though. Everything is muted, and there's an undercurrent of sorrow beneath any joys I experience that I'm always hyper-aware of. It's so exhausting, but I know I have to continue moving forward. I know I have to keep trying to make her proud.

I suppose I can start by sharing some of the things I've been doing, both to help work through all this pain, and to continue honoring her memory since my initial post in June 2008 - including the special new places I spread more of her ashes. As was the case with my initial post, it's my hope that sharing all the steps of this ongoing grieving process with full transparency will help some of you and your loved ones who may be dealing with similar issues to some extent. Let's begin...

For starters, I entered into both individual therapy and group therapy for survivors of suicide. As I've mentioned before, Re was an organ donor, and the organization that handled all of it was able to set me up with some therapy. To be completely honest, I didn't find it helpful; I guess I knew going in that there was nothing any therapist could say that would bring me comfort. My individual therapist was kind and attentive, but I can't say I learned anything new that I hadn't already thought of or read about over the course of the past year. I think the best way for me to work through this grieving process is to continue spreading her ashes and to continue writing about it on my own. Even though I wasn't getting anything out of the sessions to lift my spirits, I reminded myself it was a good way to force myself outside each week. At the time, I wasn't leaving home for anywhere from 3-5 days in a row, and I knew that wasn't healthy. Breaking out of hermit-mode can be incredibly hard, so sometimes just getting outdoors for a bit is good enough.

In the survivors of suicide group, I met some incredibly nice people with their own heartbreaking stories, but still found no comfort. I couldn't relate to anybody there, because none of them lost her. None of them lost Re specifically. Still, I attended every session, as I wanted to give it an honest chance, just like I did with individual therapy, and even if I couldn't find any comfort for myself, I hoped I could at least help the other group members. Some of the survivors told me I actually did help them after sharing what I did to get through the past year; so, if nothing else, I suppose there was a silver lining to attending all those sessions.

Roughly a month after I published my original post about Re's passing, it was time for the San Diego Comic-Con again. In the past, I had always looked forward to attending SDCC, as it was great to visit San Diego, and I loved meeting so many fans of all the ridiculous and random things I've worked on over the past two decades. Sharing in all that joy every summer recharged me like nothing else. More than anything, however, I always relished the opportunity to get out of town and travel anywhere with Re.

As my first SDCC without her loomed on the horizon, I shared the following post on my FB page:

"To my friends attending Comic-Con: I'm going to be working at the convention all week, as the C&H guys are using my booth to promote the game we've been working on, so I need to be there to run the demo. I won't lie, it's going to be incredibly hard to be there without Re. She was such a huge part of SDCC every year, from creating amazing booth designs, to going on wonderful dates together in Little Italy at the end of each day. Just having her company made those otherwise chaotic weeks go by so smoothly, so not having here there is going to be a test to say the least. Yet another "first" in a year of awful firsts.

All that said, I've admittedly become a hermit since she passed away, so it would be nice to see some familiar faces stop by the booth. I'm approaching this week as both work and exposure therapy, and I'm gonna do my best not to break down crying. Well... not too much, at least. So, if you're gonna be at SDCC during the week, please come stop by and say hi.

It's the I-Mockery booth, same as every year. Hope to see some of you there.

Miss you all."

It was an emotional, tear-filled week in San Diego to say the least, and every one of those nights alone in my hotel room - where we had stayed together every year during SDCC for the past decade - were incredibly lonely. Similarly heartbreaking were the times when people came by the booth who hadn't yet learned of Re's suicide, and I kept having to go through the experience of telling them about it each day that week. Excruciating, yes... but it was necessary. In the end, I made it through all five days of the convention. Of course, I didn't have any I-Mockery things to promote there; I was simply working and making sure the game I committed to with that Kickstarter campaign ran well. Still, it was nice to see some old friendly faces again after having been secluded for the better part of the year. It really was exposure therapy.

Less than I week after Comic-Con, I found myself in another bout of insomnia, and posted the following poem about her:

Re - My Love

"Oh these late nights
When sleep won't come
When the tiny distractions of the day give way to what's truly on my mind
It's you
It's always you
I can only hope the fan by my side will soon dry my weary, tearful eyes shut
So I can return to that place where you might be
In my dreams"

In August, I decided to take a proactive approach to something that was becoming increasingly difficult to endure: people being too uncomfortable to talk to me. I'm certain that anybody who has experienced a loss of this nature knows exactly how isolating it can feel, and having friends disconnect from you only makes it harder. So, I decided to post the following to essentially give people who were trepidatious about reaching out to me the "permission" they perhaps needed in order to do so:

"This needs to be said, since nobody's going to say it for me:

While I've had a tremendous amount of support from friends & family since Re's suicide, there are some people who are clearly uncomfortable talking to me now. I've had friends practically fall off the face of the earth, while others have seen me in-person and still never even mentioned what happened with Re, let alone offered their condolences.

It's okay to talk to me about her suicide. It's part of the grieving process. You don't have to walk on eggshells around me. You don't have to vanish and cut me out of your life. Sure, that may seem like the easier, more comfortable thing for you, but NOT talking to me and/or avoiding me hurts a lot more than taking the time to talk about it & listen to what I have to say. If I'm not up for talking or hanging out, understand that I'm still grateful knowing that you're simply thinking about me and checking in to see how I am. That's being a REAL friend.

Just needed to put this out there, because this year has been absolutely unbearable as it is, and part of getting through it is having people at my side. Having people avoid me, not checking in to see how I'm doing or simply acting like her death never happened isn't going to help.

It's never easy speaking about her suicide... fact is, it's more difficult than you could probably imagine. But I'm still doing it. I'm not going to shy away from it. That's part of how you destroy stigmas - you confront the uncomfortable. That's how Re tried to live her life, and I was always so proud of her for it.

Again, most of you have been incredibly kind, loving, and wonderful in every way, and I can't thank you enough. But for those of you who've been avoiding me or keeping quiet out of fear that you'll upset me - stop. Stand by me in facing this devastating grief; don't shy away from it."

Some people stepped forward, others didn't. I guess that's just another facet of how truly life-changing a loss like this can be - it permeates every tiny corner of your life, changing them forever. Still, I'm glad I posted it, because it was good to hear from those who did reach out. I think some people just want to live in a fairy tale world where there's no pain, and when they see somebody in as much pain as I've been in, their natural inclination is to distance themselves from it. Perhaps they fear that if they engage someone in that kind of pain, it will somehow infect them as well, or maybe they still worry about saying the wrong thing to me. Either way, I don't hold it against them... disappointing as it may be, not everybody is equipped to deal with something of this gravity.

The next thing I decided to do was to make an appearance at a place that was very special to me - UCB Theatre on Franklin Ave. This is where I went through all my levels of improv comedy classes when I first moved out to Los Angeles, and it was where I had been performing in the monthly "Tournament of Nerds" show for the past decade. On August 18th, the Tournament of Nerds was celebrating its tenth anniversary, and while I certainly wasn't up for performing, my friends Hal and Justin were kind enough to give me a slot in the show to explain my absence and share my story about Re. I was incredibly nervous to go up on stage again, but I reminded myself of what I had already been through in the past year, and that made it seem much smaller. Would going on stage be as hard as finding her that horrible night? No. Would going on stage be as hard as reading her eulogy, not once, but twice? No. Would going on stage be as hard as spreading her ashes in Japan? No. I had no excuse not to do this, so again, I pushed forward... just as she would have.

A few days after the show, I shared the following words about going on stage that night, along with a video of the full speech I gave during the show:

"This past weekend, the Tournament of Nerds celebrated its 10th anniversary. The show has meant a lot to me, and Justin & Hal were kind enough to have me there to discuss Marie's suicide and the subject of depression in general. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWU8YYo4Z0E

My good friend John took the time to record my entire speech on his phone for those of you who couldn't attend, and I've just uploaded it to YouTube at the URL above. (note: Justin & Hal said some very wonderful things to me on stage a little while after this, but that part wasn't captured on this video.)

I wasn't sure if I'd be up for it, but Re was fearless when it came to facing all of her struggles head-on, so I felt I had to honor her memory by doing as she would have. The speech begins with a little bit of my history with the Tournament of Nerds, how important of a role she played in it, and then it goes into talking about her passing. This speech is essentially a shorter version of the story about Re that I spent over seven months writing, following her suicide."

I won't name names, but I was informed by multiple people later that week that the speech helped them and their loved ones. More importantly, one person in the audience was apparently on the brink of suicide - with a full plan to go through with it already in place - and the speech changed their mind. Hearing this made me cry. It was so bittersweet - on one hand I was very happy to know this person would go on living; on the other, I couldn't help but wish my words and actions could have prevented Re's suicide. I suppose the main takeaway from it is... here's yet another life that Re saved.

My next update came on September 1st - a date which most of you on this site know was a big cause for celebration in the past, but it had taken on new meaning for me now. Here's what I had to share that day:

Re - My Love

"For nearly two decades, September 1st marked the start of my annual "Two Months of Halloween" celebration on I-Mockery. September 1st also marks the start of National Suicide Prevention Month. Here's the story of my beloved wife, Re, who took her life: http://www.i-mockery.com/re

We got married in the fall, when the air was perfectly crisp and the leaves were changing colors. She should still be here with me to celebrate our favorite season together, just like we did for over 20 years. But that awful, lying disease of depression took her from this world. Please reach out to those who you know (or even suspect) may need help. ♥"

It was hard seeing all the Halloween celebrations commencing last year, knowing Re and I wouldn't be a part of them. It was our favorite time of the year, but I felt it would be good to remind people of the other reason why September 1st was so important (along with World Suicide Prevention Day following shortly after on September 10th).

During this same time, I had traveled back to the east coast in hopes of finding some more places to spread her ashes, as she loved the fall season. I flew in to Richmond, VA to see some friends and family for a while, and then began my planned drive up to Vermont. It was nice seeing everyone there, and I even got to spend some good time with my niece and nephew. On my way to Vermont, I stopped in New York (where I'm originally from) to visit my uncle who still lives there, and ended up having to stay longer than planned. It was unseasonably warm at the time, and all the fall foliage trackers were predicting the leaves would change colors much later as a result. So, I stayed at his place for a few weeks, still writing and working, while I waited for the foliage tracking sites to give me the greenlight to continue my journey up north and find some special spots with vibrant autumn leaves to spread more of her ashes.

A full Halloween season without Re was hard enough, but in this year of firsts, the other date I was truly dreading was looming right around the corner: October 30th. Our anniversary. Here's what I had to say on that day:

"Today is our 19th anniversary. Re and I shared a life together for over 20 years, and were married 19 years ago. She was a stunning bride, and I'll never forget picking her up to kiss her at the close of our intimate, little ceremony. It felt magical.

Re - My Love

Earlier this year, I commissioned Tony Millionaire to create a piece that would capture a sliver of Re's beautiful, adventurous spirit. She and I always loved his gorgeous fountain pen ink work from another era, his dark sense of humor, and the poetic emotion found in many of his works. I sent him a photograph of Re sitting in the tub from the Ezra Jack Keats exhibit we went to back in 2014 - she absolutely adored Keats' work (especially "The Snowy Day"), so getting to walk through and interact with an actual exhibit of his artwork was an incredible experience for her. The picture of her riding in the tub was one of Re's favorite photos of herself; she thought it looked magical, as did I. Having always loved Tony's nautical themed work, I asked him to have Re sailing the high seas in the tub along with her favorite plush duck and Drinky Crow (so she'd have some good company for the journey), as they sailed peacefully under the stars on to new adventures.

Re - My Love

This is the piece he created, and I think he did a fantastic job. It's a gift I wish I could've given her for our anniversary when she was still here. I wish I could see that big smile on her face one more time. Surprising her with gifts was so wonderful; nothing felt better than making my love smile. Nothing.

Getting married to Re - the love of my life and my best friend - was the best decision I ever made. I loved our life together, but there's no denying the pain of this past year without her has been absolutely unbearable, and days like today continue to make me question why I'm even here. Having lost her nearly a year ago to suicide, I can't believe I'm sitting here alone on our anniversary. We should be out celebrating together like we always did. This isn't the way it was supposed to be. I still burst into tears, crying for her every single day. That's not hyperbole; it's the new normal. I just miss my beautiful Halloween bride.

Happy Anniversary, my love.

I miss you. I miss our life together. I miss life."

There wasn't much time to recuperate from the first wedding anniversary without her, as less than two weeks later it would be November 12th - exactly one year since she took her life - and I knew it was going to be brutal. I had a lot to reflect on from my first year without her. Here's what I had to say:

"It's been a year. It's been one year since Re took her life.

I'm not exactly sure what to say, so please excuse me as I pour my thoughts out here in yet another stream of consciousness. I wanted to give all of you an update on things, and also reflect on this past year along with the devastating impact it's had. Again, I'm just trying to be an open book here, as I hope it can help somebody else who is suffering to not feel quite so alone. So, as always, feel free to share this with anybody you think it may aid in any small way.

Re - My Love

This has been the absolute longest year of my life. I've spent 2018 reflecting on Re's life and our life together. I still can't believe she's gone. I'm still waiting for her to return home from a trip after spending far too much time apart, and then picking her up and giving her the biggest embrace in the history of the world. Before all this happened, I was somebody who loved writing about the past... now I'm somebody who's living in it. I try to focus on the countless wonderful experiences we had together - going on travel adventures, holidays, making love, working on projects, playing games, taking naps on the couch, watching our favorite shows, sharing music, hiking, dining, making each other laugh, and so much more. Re made my life infinitely better. We were perfect together. We felt it. We always smiled when people told us we were their favorite couple; we were our favorite couple, too. I miss our love for each other and time together more than any words can possibly convey. Unfortunately, I can't just choose to live in those happy memories, because the mind naturally drifts to other places.

As I mentioned earlier this year, there's simply no way to not replay the events of the past. Those "what ifs" come crawling back into the forefront of your thoughts whether you're ready for them or not. It's painfully torturous, thinking of all the things we could've done differently, and all the circumstances of her life that resulted in her ultimately taking it. Yes, she had severe clinical depression and social anxiety, but when you know somebody that closely and spend over 20 years with them, you can't help but blame yourself for their struggles too, along your own failures to alleviate them.

A loss of this nature forces you to look inward at your own faults. We all want to be perfect for our loves, but we're all flawed... I know I am. I think of all the mistakes I made over the years... things I wish I had done differently, things I wish I had said or hadn't said, and other paths I could've taken for her. So many things screaming, "This is where you failed her. You should have done better." But I don't get any redos. I don't get to see if any of those other choices would've made an impact.

I think about all the other life experiences that deeply affected her as well - being mugged in college, problems with her family, medications & therapies that didn't help, severe migraines, working at various companies for some truly awful and abusive people, the trauma of seeing her father pass away, all the physical pains that she had to overcome, simultaneously desiring & fearing motherhood, wishing she could give her brother with Down syndrome the better life she always wanted for him, and so much more. For being the most loving, kind, and selfless person I've ever known, it always disheartened me just how rough she had it in life. All too often, it really felt like she just couldn't catch a break - and even when she did catch one, that awful disease of depression had a way of blocking her mind from truly recognizing it. What's worse, even when she was able to recognize something good, she wasn't able to fully enjoy it like a person without that disease would. It just wasn't fair.

I look at all of these things - things we did together, things she did, things I did, things others did, her depression disease - and I see them all forming cracks. No single thing made Re take her life, but the pressure of all these cracks added up over time, and while she loved our life together and life in general, her mind couldn't reconcile all those cracks that never healed. It made her feel like she was stuck in an inescapable tragedy loop.

And that's the truly agonizing thing - there's no way of knowing for sure whether making any changes would or wouldn't have made a difference in the end. I just believe in my heart that some of them would have, because she was a fighter who truly wanted to live, and nobody can tell me otherwise. She just needed the pain to not be so incredibly acute all the time. I have to except what has happened. She's gone and I have to continue to carry that with me now.

I've been watching a lot of films this past year, as they help provide me with some escapism to get my mind off of things, and some have moments that speak to me. I recently stumbled upon a small film called Comet... not a particularly good film, but it did have one section of dialogue that really hit home, and I thought I would share it with you all:

"I feel like I'm in the wrong world. 'Cause I don't belong in a world where we don't end up together. I don't. There are parallel universes out there where this didn't happen. Where I was with you, and you were with me. And whatever universe that is, that's the one where my heart lives in."

Re always used to say that I was this incredibly strong person, and that if she died, I'd be okay again within six months. Can you believe that?! SIX MONTHS. No joke. She actually said that to me in the past, which I of course dismissed immediately and proceeded to list out the many reasons why she was the most important part of my life and how I'd be lost without her. Six months... it's been a year, and I can barely get through a goddamn hour without crying. That disease made her think so little of herself at times. It's just heartbreaking, and I do feel like I'm in the wrong world.

People who have lost limbs experience phantom pains. I guess I'm experiencing those too, for I feel as though I've lost my heart.

This whole experience has aged me far beyond my years.

I'm soul sick.

My friends and family all see it in me. While we can smile and even share a laugh here and there, they see the change. I feel it and I know it. While visiting my parents, I recently overheard my mom talking to one of her friends on the phone about how there's no real joy in my eyes anymore. I can't argue with that. I've known that all year long, because I see it whenever I look in the mirror. That's the look of love lost, and I still feel like a ghost. I feel bad for my parents, because this is uncharted territory for them. They've always been ready and willing help my siblings and I if we were ever in need, but this isn't a problem they can fix, even with all the love in the world (love which they've absolutely shown me throughout these tragic times), and they know it. I wish there was a way for somebody to fix this, but I know no such remedy exists. I've said it before and I'll say it again - closure is a myth. Let's hope that carrying all this with me and finding some purpose later in life isn't.

I have some incredible friends, too, and they've done their best to help me. I haven't found a new place to live, and still won't for a while, but I'm eternally thankful for the multiple friends who have opened their homes to me this past year. It may not seem like a big deal to these friends, but not having to worry about where to settle down next has at least given me some breathing room while I try to acclimate myself to this somber Twilight Zone version of my life. A life where I carry around the ashes of my love in a backpack, hoping to find some peaceful spots for them.

But I know my friends see the pain in me all too well, and some of them can't help but walk on eggshells around me at times, even though I don't want them to. I guess it's just human nature, and they're trying not to upset me or cause further grief. Some friends haven't been able to handle any of this at all, and I don't even hear from or see them anymore. Feels awful, but I suppose that's just another one of the many life changes ones has to adjust to when something like this happens. It's okay; I'm just lucky to have the friends who've stood by me throughout this dreadful year.

I often find time for what I refer to as "power cries" all the time. They're like power naps, only they release some of the ever-building pressure of the overwhelming sadness welling up within me at any given moment. Sometimes I'll excuse myself, other times I'll be riding in the backseat of a car, with friends or family sitting up front, and they'll not even know I'm crying. It's not that I have any shame about it - I don't, and nobody should - it's just that sometimes I need these little moments to myself. It's part of the ongoing grieving process.

Along the way, I've forced myself to do other things to assist with this grieving process. Individual therapy, group therapy sessions specifically for survivors of loved ones who went through with suicide, hiking, and more... I'm glad these things get me out of the house for a bit, but none of them are healing. A pain of this nature is evergreen, and I can only hope that time makes it sting just a little less.

For those of you who worry about it, I feel I should reiterate that I'm not suicidal. I never have been, Re wouldn't want that, and it's not my time, no matter how much I want to be with her. I'll let death come naturally in time. That's not to say I haven't looked into other things to alleviate the agony of losing her. Early on, I actually tried finding out if there was a facility that could put me into a voluntary medically-induced coma, even for a week, just so I could give my mind a break for a little while. Those are the kind of places your thoughts go after a trauma like this. Believe me, I know it's not logical at all... but people will search for hope in every nook & cranny when suffering like this. I know I just have to keep picking myself back up whenever those waves come crashing down, just as I've done all year long.

And speaking of suicide - I just learned about how Re saved another friend from going through with suicide. She talked this person out of it and the world is a much better place as a result. I'm glad that person is still here, because that person is just as dear to me as they were to her. Re saved a life. That's huge. I just wish I had been there for Re on that tragic night last year to prevent her from taking her life. I wish I had been there so badly. I can't tell you how many times my mind has screamed at me, "If only you had returned home a little earlier!" Picturing her alone with that depression disease telling her to end it all always brings me to tears instantly. She deserved so much more out of life.

And it is exhausting. Everything is exhausting.

More exhausting than crying every day is being on the verge of tears at any given moment. More exhausting is barely being able to maintain eye contact with anybody, because I don't want them to have to see the constant pain I'm in every waking moment. More exhausting is knowing the best years of your life are behind you, but you still (in all likelihood) have many more years ahead of you in which you'll need to carry on. It's always this delicate balancing act, where if you're not careful, your mind easily drifts into that morose territory in which you simply lose it and burst into tears. And the hardest thing about it? You actually have to allow yourself to have those tears. It's part of the grieving process.

There's no delicate way to put it: It's fucking exhausting and I'm bone-tired.

I know this all sounds morose and full of despair, but I don't want this to define the rest of my life. I don't want my life to be a never-ending pity party. I don't want pity. I want to find purpose again. I want to smile again and really feel it deeply. I wish it were simple as flipping a switch, but that's not the case. All I ever wanted out of life was to spend all of it with Re in a loving relationship together, and to make other people in this world smile, but now it's hard to imagine this new so-called life heading anywhere beyond the ceaseless mourning.

I have to remind myself, "It's only been a year." Yes, it's been the longest, devastating, most heartbreaking year of my life, but it's still been just a year. That November asteroid is still weighing me down. While I don't expect peace to come knocking at my door anytime soon, I do hope for a better tomorrow. Truly, I do. In the meantime, I'll continue to search for more special places to spread Re's ashes, and keep myself occupied with work. At the very least, work is a welcome respite from all these exhausting thoughts.

I've been back east for months now, and there were two primary reasons I came here: 1) to spread more of Re's ashes during the fall season that we both loved so much, and 2) to get away from everything for a bit, while seeing some close friends & family so I could hopefully feel some small shreds of normalcy.

You'll be glad to know, I did find some special new places for Re in Vermont and New York this fall, and I'll be sharing details and photos of them in the near future when I'm able to. Today, however, marks one year since my love left this world behind, and I just want to be alone with my memories of her, just as I was on our anniversary last month, so that's what I'm going to do.

To all of you who've continued to check in on me constantly throughout this entire year, just to see if I'm doing okay or if I need anything, I appreciate it more than you can possibly know. I look forward to spending some good times together again in the future.

But today, on the anniversary of her passing, I don't want you thinking about me at all - I want you to think about Re. Think about what an incredible person she was. Think about some of the nice memories you have of her. Think about her big smile, here sense of humor, her infectious laugh, and her kind heart. Think about her tireless desire to help others. Think about her ability to seemingly solve any problem for people, no matter how infeasible it seemed. Think about her stunning artwork that always told a story. Think about her unique mind that was a limitless fountain of brilliant creativity. Think about all the love she had to give without ever expecting any in return. Think about the lives she improved. Think about the life she saved. Think about what a truly rare and genuinely good person she was. Think about Re.

And when you're done recalling all those lovely things about Re, please think about somebody else in your life - somebody who you know (or even suspect) may be struggling with depression of their own. Think about how the world would be worse off without them. Think about how you can get in touch with them and see if there's anything you can to do help, even if it's just listening to them talk about their problems. Now stop merely thinking about that person and actually take the time to reach out to them. That's what Re would've done, and it's what she would want you to do as well, because she never wanted anybody else to be in the same kind of pain she was in.

As always, thanks for reading, and take care of yourselves until we speak again in the near future."

Later in November, I had recovered enough from the anniversary of her death, along with my travels up north to Vermont, and was ready to share the details of the two locations I found to spread Re's ashes. Here's the first one:

"Hi all. Time for an update. I've been staying with friends and family on the east coast for months now, and my main reason for this trip was to find some special places to spread more of Re's ashes. We were married on October 30th, and Re decorated our wedding with all the fall foliage we both loved - even her dress had leaves sewn into it. Re was always an east coast girl at heart; we may have moved out to California for over a decade, but New York was home to her, and I was sure we'd eventually move back.

With all this in mind, it only seemed fitting that I spread her ashes on the east coast during the fall season that meant so much to both of us. So, after doing a lot of research on the best spots to see the fall foliage, I settled on driving up to Woodstock, Vermont (not the one in NY where the music festival took place). It just seemed like it would be a perfect location for her based on all the photos and reading I did about the town. And even if the town didn't contain a special location for her, I was confident that something in the general region would. So, after patiently watching the Vermont fall foliage reports to give me the greenlight - which took far longer than expected due to the unseasonably warm weather this year - off I went.

The drive up was long, but the views were really nice... especially once I got on those New England back roads, complete with the ubiquitous covered bridges. I first ended up stopping in a town just east of Woodstock called Quechee. As I was passing through Quechee, I drove towards a bridge and noticed crowds of people swarming on it, so I pulled the car over to take a look. Turns out it was the Quechee Gorge, which is the deepest gorge in Vermont at 165 feet deep. Considering I always enjoyed hiking, and how this location had some incredible views, I decided to park for several hours and head down to one of the bottom gorge trails that followed alongside the Ottauquechee River to do some further exploring. It was a nice hike, and I honestly couldn't believe more visitors weren't doing it. Head downhill in one direction and you'll find a peaceful pond-like area that the river feeds into where you can walk out on exposed rocks; head uphill and you'll come to an impressive dam and waterfall near Dewey's Mills Pond. As nice as the views on this trail were, none of them felt right for spreading her ashes. I can't really explain it... I just wait for a place that feels right in the moment when I'm there. So, onward towards Woodstock I went.

Woodstock was a lovely small town, and I walked around for hours exploring random streets, small shops, an outdoor crafts festival that was taking place, and of course the foliage. I also visited their nearby Sugarbush Farm, which I had read great reviews about and saw that they had advertised a fall foliage hike as well. Unfortunately, the hike turned out to be very short and lackluster, but the farm itself had some gorgeous views and incredibly good maple syrup that they produced. Overall, Woodstock seemed like a perfect little town for anybody to visit, but it wasn't perfect for Re, so I had decided to continue driving north, ultimately stopping at the Killington Motel when I ran out of daylight.

I was disappointed that neither the Quechee Gorge nor Woodstock presented a special location to spread Re's ashes, but this was only my first day up there, so I had to give it time, just as I did in Japan. While in the motel, I decided the next day I would take a ride up in one of the Killington gondolas and hike the trails up at the summit in search of a spot, but mother nature had other plans. It rained heavily the next day and the gondolas were closed as a result, so I either had to waste a day, or keep driving. I elected to keep driving, so after having a good breakfast with the company of the motel owner's cat, I took the Route 100 Scenic Byway farther north. It may have been raining all day, but the views were still spectacular, as it was now peak fall foliage season.

On my drive, I discovered Moss Glen Falls in Granville. While I thought the waterfall might have been a good spot for Re, there was far too steady a stream of visitors there. No chance for a private, somber time to spread more of Re's ashes, so I kept driving north, and it was a good thing that I did. I drove up the road more and saw a sign for the Warren Falls Observation Site, and since you couldn't see it from the road like Moss Glen Falls, there was virtually nobody around. After parking the car, I hiked down the short, dimly lit path, and just as I reached the falls, there was a lone tree with bright yellow fall leaves. It practically illuminated the entire area as the cascades flowed directly behind it. I immediately started crying when I saw it, for I knew I had finally found her next location.

I spread her ashes around the bright tree and talked to her through our wedding rings, just as I've done ever since she passed, all while hoping this was a spot she would love. With the rain drizzling down on me, it felt like the Philosopher's Path in Kyoto all over again - quiet, somber, and peaceful. Before departing, I plucked a small leaf from her tree to take with me. Re was my October bride... my October heart. She always wanted to take a trip up to Vermont to see the leaves in the fall. Now she'll be a part of the fall here forever. I love you, sweetheart. I'll continue to search for more locations for you.

Later on, I learned Warren Falls used to be a secret swimming hole, and it's now become a popular destination in the summer months. It's nice to picture children happily jumping into the water, keeping her nearby tree company before the fall arrives each year.

After saying goodbye to her tree on that rainy afternoon, I gathered up my things and continued to drive north. At this point, I honestly had no idea where I was heading, so I just kept driving in hopes of finding another exceptional location for her. As I drove towards no specific destination, I could only think of Frost's words: "But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep... and miles to go before I sleep."

Thankfully, my journey did take me to another location I never even knew existed that was absolutely perfect for her, and I'll be sharing details about it with my next post in (hopefully) a week or so. Until then, please take a moment to look through these photographs I took on the trip, including her special spot in Warren Falls, VT.

As always, thanks so much for reading and continuing to keep Re in your hearts."

Photos of where I took her to in Vermont:

In the first week of December, I shared details and photos from the second half of my east coast trip for Re. Here it is:

"Okay, now it's time for part two of my trip back east to spread more of Re's ashes. If you missed part one, I posted it on here last week.

After finding that lovely spot in Warren Falls for her, I continued my northbound Vermont drive with no clear destination. I cut across Route 17, also known as the Appalachian Gap, which had even more gorgeous views than the route 100 scenic bypass - the kind of views where photos simply cannot do them justice. Towards the end of my winding Route 17 drive, I made my way to Bristol to stop for some lunch after an emotionally exhausting morning. Bristol had a quaint small town feel to it, and having a warm lunch in a cafe as the rain continued to pour down outside helped me collect myself and recharge for a bit.

While checking out the maps, I noticed I wasn't too far away from the Essex-Charlotte ferry on Lake Champlain. I still didn't know where I was headed, but I knew I always relished the opportunity to park my car on a ferry to cross a body of water. While slowly crossing Lake Champlain on the ferry, I got out of my car and walked over to the upper observation deck to get a better view of the vast body of water, along with a small island off the starboard side. I noticed a family struggling to take a selfie, so I stepped in and snapped a photo for them... again, hearkening back to Japan when I remembered taking photos of couples and wishing Re could've been there to take one with me. She would've loved this ferry ride. She would've loved a lot of the places I visited on this trip. That's one of the hardest parts about trying to keep moving forward in life without your love at your side - there are so many things you just want to share with them every single day.

As the rains reduced to a drizzle, the ferry pulled in to the dock, and I was no longer in Vermont; I was in Essex, New York. Essex was an absolutely beautiful town. I took my time exploring various side roads along the shoreline covered in bright fall leaves, walking around Beggs Park, and admiring the quirky nautical-themed architecture. I even came close to spreading some of her ashes in one spot that had more bright autumn colors, but something told me I should keep driving north. After all, I could always come back if I didn't find anything... so, drive farther north I did.

On my drive, I hugged the shoreline so I could see more of Lake Champlain, hoping to stumble upon another spot for her along the way. The views were wonderful, but nothing called out to me, and I was now losing daylight quickly. After passing through Port Douglas and cutting inland, I stumbled on something I never even knew existed - the Ausable Chasm. The name alone piqued my curiosity, and even though the sun was setting, I immediately knew it was something I would need to explore. So, I drove farther north until eventually finding some lodging right on the lake in Plattsburgh, which was far closer to the Canada border than I ever expected this trip to take me. After grabbing a small dinner at a popular local pub, I settled in for the night.

The next morning, I awoke to the welcome sight of a bright, sunny day, with barely a cloud in the sky. Considering the entire trip had been fairly grey and gloomy so far, despite all the gorgeous fall foliage, it was a relief to not have cloudy skies looming over me in addition to the intense emotional weight of the journey itself. I packed up my things and drove back down to the Ausable Chasm, which is known as the Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks. I couldn't believe what I had stumbled on - a huge gorge with flowing waters along with the fullest, brightest fall tree I had seen on the entire trip.

After marveling at the sights by the entrance, I went inside the welcome center and discovered there were miles of hiking trails within the park. Even better, it was a weekday and I practically had the entire park to myself. Perfect. I paid the admission fee and quickly discovered the Ausable Chasm offers one of the most eye-popping hikes I've done to this day. It's a gorgeous hike through the chasm, with high cliffs on both sides and rapid waters just below you. The park features rope bridges, amazing rock formations, waterfalls, and even a spot for tubing in warmer seasons. I walked the entirety of the Inner Sanctum Trail and then connected with the Rim Walk Trail. But rather than end things at the second bus stop where you could be picked up and returned to the welcome center, I walked a little farther to see The Grand Basin, and I'm glad I did. From high up on one of the cliffs, I spotted a gorgeous fall tree overlooking The Grand Basin. The leaves on her tree from Warren Falls were yellow and bright; today's tree had vibrant, fiery red leaves. This was it.

I also loved that where this tree was located, was exactly where the rapids stopped and turned to peaceful flowing waters. It seemed symbolic to me. Her mind was filled with swirling rapids in life; now all is peace for her. I broke a few rules to access the tree, but nobody was there to begrudge me for climbing down to it, and I liked knowing that it was this private, special location just for her. After spreading her ashes, I just sat there with her for a good hour as the sun beamed down on the slowly flowing waters below and a small rainbow formed nearby. "She would love this," I thought to myself. Re was born in New York; it was her home. It's only fitting she have a permanent place there. I was glad to have found such a unique spot for her that day, where the sun will always shine on her, the leaves will turn fiery bright in the fall just like she loved, and the calming waters will continue to flow below her tree. But that wasn't the only spot in the Ausable Chasm for her.

Rather than catching a bus, I hiked the entire way reverse on the trails. I tend to like doing this on hiking trails in general, as you always see something different on the way back than what you saw on the way in. The rock formations looked completely different on the way back and it was a nice way to get myself ready for the next step. After completing the hike back, I returned to the entrance of Ausable Chasm where one of the most stunning maple trees I've ever seen in the fall season was waiting for me. It was there when I first arrived in the morning, but there was a big tour bus crowd that had stopped to take photos around it. When I returned, however, not a soul was there. The light breeze and sunshine made the orange and yellow leaves sway back and forth as I sat in a small bench under the tree and listened to them. I spread more of Re's ashes under the tree, knowing she would've marveled over it. It's the kind of tree we would've taken a nap together underneath had we found it in life.

One park, two spectacular locations. It was more than I expected, and finally, my nerves about coming back east to find some places that were special enough for her had begun to subside. It was an incredibly lonely and emotional trip, but I'm glad I did it. While there are still more places I need to find for her, I'm glad I was able to find some extraordinary spots for my east coast girl... for my fall bride. I love you, Re. I still have more adventures to take you on, sweetheart.

Once again, please take a moment to peruse the photographs I took on this second leg of the trip, including the Ausable Chasm. I'm still in Richmond for a little while, and continuing to work before I return to California, but I hope 2019 will help me find some more special places to take her. Still such a long way to go.

While no words or photos can encapsulate these experiences, I'm doing my best to share what it was like going on the journey, so I hope it helps. Thanks again for reading along and being with me in spirit."

Photos of where I took her to in upstate New York:

For the rest of December, I stayed offline and kept to myself during the holidays and my birthday; once again, I was in no mood to celebrate the season without Re, and my friends & family were good enough to give me that space. After a few weeks into new year, however, I did receive some rare, wonderful news for a change that I had to share with everybody:

"Bawling my eyes out here... I just received word that one of Re's heart valves was successfully transplanted into a 12-year-old girl. Even in death, she continues to help (and save) others. It's nice to know a small part of her will live on in that girl, and hopefully help her live a full life. Re always loved Batman, but today she's the superhero. Good job, my love. ♥"

Re saved a 12-year-old girl. Here she is emerging from the original Adam West 'Batman' cave. She's better than Batman... she's real.

As you can imagine, hearing that news was incredibly emotional and bittersweet. I let the organ donation organization know that I'd love to meet the girl someday, but due to privacy issues, that's up to her and her family. Hopefully someday she'll want to get in touch with me, and then I can tell her all about what an amazing person Re was, and how it would've put a huge smile on her face to know she helped save the life of a young girl. Either way, as I said before, small comforts are in short supply for me these days, so I'll take whatever good news I can get.

And that brings us up to current time, February 2019. I'm back in California, staying with my good friend, John, and working on the game (as it continues to be a good daily distraction) and other small things; I'm hoping to at least find a temporary place I can move into at some point in the near future. I say temporary, because I honestly have no idea where I want to live. It's hard to even care about that sort of thing anymore, and I don't intend to unpack my storage space until I'm in a new home that I want to live in for a good while. I don't know if I'll stay in SoCal or move somewhere entirely new. Whenever I do unpack that storage unit and go through all the remains of our life together, it's undoubtedly going to be an emotional endeavor, so I don't want to do it prematurely, only to have to pack it all up yet again. Perhaps the time will be right for all that after I'm done spreading Re's ashes. Who knows...

Speaking of which, I have a few ideas for places I might travel to later this year in hopes of finding more special spots for her. I still have a long road ahead of me, but such a thing simply cannot be rushed. Until it's time for the next trip, I'm just going to keep working, researching additional places to take her, and trying to enjoy what little things in life I can. Just getting through the days is still plenty overwhelming. We'll see what 2019 brings.

One of the hardest things about life now is that I often have these thoughts where I feel like I don't even deserve to be alive. "She was such a wonderful person, and she's dead... why should I get to go on living? Why should I try to find happiness again when she couldn't? It's not fair." Of course, I know with a certainty she would want me to find happiness... and I wish I could. While I can keep those thoughts at bay most of the time, there's no real way to prevent them from eventually coming back to the forefront of my mind - particularly on the rare occasions when I actually am enjoying something. It's inescapable, but I have to remind myself she'd be happy to see me smiling about anything. So, I try... I try to enjoy the little things.

I've been trying to stay relatively healthy so I don't succumb to the widowhood effect, as this experience has already taken a tremendous toll on me both physically and mentally. I try to relax by watching movies and playing guitar. I listen to music a lot, too, but certain songs really hit me hard - either because they're songs I know she loved, or they contain sad lyrics that are almost like her calling out to me. To this day, certain songs can reduce me to tears, and I feel like my chest is caving in on itself while I listen to them. Music can still be comfort, however... it always has been, so I try to keep it in my life as much as possible.

I miss hugging her so deeply. It's such a huge absense, and there's simply no substituting or replacing it. I believe the amount you grieve for someone is equal to the amount you love them. Given how much I love Re, it shouldn't come as a surprise how intense all this grieving has been. I just miss my favorite person - the love of my life.

My life has gotten a lot smaller without Re in it. I don't have much news to tell people on a weekly basis anymore, as every day is almost exactly the same. I wake up, I work, and I sleep. I try to get out on the weekends to see a friend or two, but half the time I don't even feel motivated to do so.

I'm living in saudade.

Sometimes I'll go outside to run a non-pressing errand just to get myself out of the house, all the while reminding myself of those ever-important words: "It's only been a year."

That's about all the news I can tell you for now. I'm going to continue moving forward and keep trying to make her proud.

As always, thanks for sticking by my side. I still miss talking with all of you and writing fun articles for I-Mockery, but I'm just not ready for that sort of thing yet... I still don't know if I ever will be. I'll do my best to keep you posted whenever I'm able to on here or on my Twitter account. In the meantime, please continue to keep Re in your hearts while thinking of all the wonderful things she did with her life. A big thanks again to all of you who've left so many heartfelt comments over the past year, and for those who continue to check in on me regularly. I may not always respond, but I read it all, and it means more than you'll ever know. I love hearing from all of you, so please do drop some new comments below if you have a chance.

Thanks for reading and being here, and I hope you're all doing well.

With love,



My North Star.

NOTE: If you haven't read the initial story above, please scroll to the top of this page to read it first.

Hello, friends. Given that I haven't posted on here since February, and since it's a rainy day with nothing to do but stay inside and reflect on things, I thought I'd take the opportunity to share an update with you before I attempt to navigate my way through another lonesome holiday season. Before I get into the details, I want to once again thank all of you for the wonderful messages you've left in the comments section below (in addition to all the emails and messages you've left me on social media). It continues to be a comfort to hear from all of you. It's also my hope that this ongoing story finds its way to those in need and helps them feel a little less alone in their own struggles.

Despite having made more progress this year which I'll get to in a bit, I once again find myself at a loss about where exactly to begin. I'd love to say I'm feeling better these days, but that would be disingenuous. While it's now been just over two years since Re passed — and those two years have felt like a lifetime and then some — her absence is felt constantly in even the tiniest facets of my life. I feel like I'm moving through life in a somnambulant state now; I'm not sleeping, yet the world around me no longer feels quite real. Maybe it's because I find myself struggling to care about things in the same way I once did, for the one person who I wanted to share the world and my entire life with is gone.

Re - My Sunshine

When you lose the love of your life, it's not just their love that is ripped away from you... a huge piece of yourself is gone forever as well. What you're left with are these tattered remains of a person that is somehow still you, but you no longer recognize yourself anymore. You're an alien in your own body. You feel like an anomaly walking through a world filled with people living normal, unmarred lives. And worst of all, you know there's no undoing it. You know you have to face it. You know you have to learn to live with it and carry it with you for the rest of your days. That's an incredibly hard thing to ask of anybody, but it must be done.

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return."

Whenever I hear Nat King Cole sing those timeless words, I couldn't agree more, which it makes it all the more heartbreaking knowing that my love is no longer here.

Please don't get me wrong; it's not all despondence and gloom. I still remain a hopeful person that someday things will feel a little better. I'm able to laugh and even have some fun with certain activities and distractions, but those moments always come with a muted joy. There's a longing just beneath the surface; a longing for her to be here to experience those same joys with me. A longing to see her face light up... to hear her infectious laugh... to see her beautiful smile... to share an embrace. That's what's so hard about living now — I know I can keep living (and I absolutely will), but believing I'll never be able to experience the same level of happiness ever again is disheartening to say the least. It's as though you can see that happiness all around, but you have an impenetrable, murky bubble surrounding you, so you're only able to observe it through distorted vision as a somber spectator. I can only imagine this is what clinical depression feels like to those afflicted with it.

There's also the absurd feelings of guilt that now come with even trying to have a good time. I hate how often when I attempt to do something to enjoy myself, to try forgetting about all these sad things for a little while, there's now a voice in the back of my head saying, "You're being selfish. You should be doing more for her." That voice even stops me from doing simple things at times, like treating myself to a good meal or posting something fun online. Logically, I know that voice is wrong, as we all need some downtime to abate our grief after a tragedy like this, but it still bothers me and makes moving forward in life all the more difficult. Yes, I'm able to have more fun than I was able to a year ago; I can laugh and smile, and I can make funny expressions for photos with friends on occasion. This is a good thing... I get it. Still, the reality is that no matter how much work, friends, or extracurricular activities I try to fill my days with, there's always going to be time alone. So much time alone. And I'm sure you can guess where my mind goes during those times. It goes directly to her.

It's always her.

Re - My Love

In the two years since Re passed, I've come to realize one of the hardest things to find within yourself again after such a tremendous loss is desire. The desire for anything in life. Wanting to do things. Wanting to create. Wanting to spend time with people. Wanting to get out of bed. So much of what used to be completely natural desires have all too often become a "Okay, you need to force yourself to do this for your own health." kind of deal. It's incredibly disheartening, but history tells us these feelings will change over time, so we continue to move forward. It's all we can do. In my case, I have to remind myself that while these two years have felt like an agonizing eternity, it has still been only two years.

So, I have been moving forward. I've survived another year without Re, and during that time I've tried getting back on my feet by moving into a new home, reading more books in twelve months than I probably have in the past decade, and making progress with finding special new places to spread her ashes. I'm still trying my best to make her proud, so please allow me to share with you some more spots I took her to this past year.

Near the beginning of spring, I decided to take Re to a peaceful location we had been before at Chino Hills State Park during the annual poppy bloom. I waited for the peak of the season to hit and then took her to the park in March. Here's what I wrote about it at the time, along with some photos I took:

On Friday, March 5th, I took the day off to bring Re to a place that we had been in the past during spring — Chino Hills State Park. While most people flock to Antelope Valley to see the poppies come spring each year, Re and I preferred the far more secluded Chino Hills location with its sprawling hills and amazing wildflowers.

I tried taking her there after my trip to Japan last year, but by the time I had returned from overseas, it was too late in the season. This year, however, the timing was just right. It was a beautiful, sunny day with a perfectly light breeze. We had an incredible amount of rain the past two months, so I knew the flowers would be more bountiful than ever this season. Re discovered this place years ago, as she loved the bright orange poppies - and was more than happy to reenact the wicked witch scene about them from The Wizard of Oz when we visited the park.

After going deep into the park, I found a private side track on my hike that led up to a hilltop with panoramic views of the entire area. You could even see some snow-capped mountains off in the distance. Once I reached the hilltop, I realized I had arrived at the next special location for Re.

Given how this special spot had panoramic views, I spread some of her ashes around the area in a circular pattern. Afterwards, I sat with her for several hours, talking about all the things I had been missing from our time together, and how my favorite "poppy peeper pal" should be there with me in person to enjoy this year's beautiful bloom. I'm always glad when I can find her a new location, but it's always painful, too.

The orange California poppy flowers weren't the only things to see here; there were bright white, yellow, and purple flowers abound — lupines, Matilija poppies, sunflowers, and more. Re also loved cacti, and there were no shortage of them in Chino Hills amidst all the wildflowers. The hills themselves were green as ever thanks to the recent rains, reminding me of our travels to Scotland, Ireland, and New Zealand.

I imagine this will be the last place in California that I spread her remains, as I have hopes of taking her to other special locations out of state, and eventually overseas again. It's a long process, and I have a ways to go. Still, I'm glad I was able to finally take my lovely poppy peeper pal here once again after last year's failed attempt. Re was a magical person, and she deserves magical places. It's nice to know that every spring when these beautiful hills burst with color, she'll be here... a part of them.

As with all the previous places I've taken her, I snapped some photos to give you an idea of what the place is like, so please take a moment to look at all of them.

Interesting sidenote: My friend, Andrew, messaged me a short while after I had spread Re's ashes, as he was out hiking in Richmond around the same time and stumbled on a location with one of the Sharpie marker hearts I drew with Re's name inside it the last time I was back east. Total coincidence that he even spotted it, and crazy timing, as I hadn't told anyone I was out spreading her ashes that day.

Photos of where I took her to in Chino Hills:

After March and April came and went, it was time for another painful date: Re's birthday. So I shared this:

Today marks Re's second birthday since leaving this world.

Here's the "very Miranda July" photo of Re that everyone loved from back in May of 2010 when I took her to Santa Barbara for her birthday.

Re - My Love

As expected, I've been a crying mess all weekend. My heart remains beyond broken and inconsolable. Going off the grid for the day to be alone with her today.

Please celebrate her birthday however you can today, and try to think of some warm memories of this wonderful woman who was unfairly taken from us by an awful disease.

Happy Birthday, my love. I'm heading out to spend the day with you now.

I did indeed head out that day for her, and I took Re up to a special place in the San Bernadino Mountains:

This past Monday was Re's second birthday since she left this world, and I naturally needed to take the day off to be alone with her. Rather than stay at home, I decided to drive up to Lake Arrowhead in the San Bernardino Mountains. We had been there for an anniversary getaway some years back and had an amazing time walking around Lake Arrowhead Village, dining on the waterfront, renting a small cabin, and getting nice 'n cozy by the fireplace at night.

On my drive up, a ladybug landed on my hand when I stopped at one of the scenic overviews. Re always called them "lucky ladybugs", and she even carried around a small carved one I gave her as a gift. It made me smile just thinking of her.

I wanted to hike around the entire Lake Arrowhead, but since much of it is private property, that wasn't an option. However, driving roughly seven miles to the west will take you to Lake Gregory, and it has a fantastic hiking trail that spans the entire perimeter of the lake.

When I arrived at Lake Gregory, finding the hiking trail didn't take long at all, so I parked my car, put on my backpack with Re inside, and began our hike. The lake views were gorgeous on this sunny day, and it being a Monday, there was virtually nobody around. There were a wide variety of flowers, and I particularly loved the white ones with just a faint hint of blue in the center. I'll have to look up their name later. Wildlife was in abundance too — koi, turtles, lizards, bluebirds, white herons, ducks, and yes... tons of ladybugs.

I wasn't intending or expecting to spread her ashes on this trip, but I found a magical and peaceful place that overlooked the lake with ladybugs swarming around everywhere. Considering the location, the ladybugs, and the fact that I spread some of Re's ashes on the same day last year, it just felt like the right thing to do for my birthday beauty.

I've decided not to show the exact location where I spread her ashes, as I want to have one special spot that's just between the two of us. I'm sure you can all understand that. That said, I took plenty of photos on my hike, so please enjoy these photos. As always, please continue to keep Re in your hearts, and thanks for reading this ongoing journey for the love of my life.

Photos of where I took her to in Lake Gregory and Lake Arrowhead:

May wasn't just a big month for me because of her birthday, for it would also be when I moved back up to Los Angeles. As I had mentioned in my previous update, my friend John had been kind enough to let me live in his place down in Costa Mesa for as long as I needed while I tried putting the pieces of my life back together. I can't tell you how nervous I was to rent a new place — keep in mind, I hadn't lived in a home without Re in over twenty years, so there was significant anxiety about this move. Sure, the two of us were practically nomads, living in a variety of places, but the idea of doing it without her? Awful. Would I get a studio alone? Would I live in a place with some roommates? With either outcome, the mere thought of it had me feeling paralyzed for quite a while. Thankfully, things worked out, as I was able to find a nice new home to live in. Here are some thoughts I shared about it with friends and family at the time:

Hey all - I wanted to take a moment to give you an update on what I've been up to, since I haven't really shared much beyond the special places I've been taking Re, and I've now finally moved back to LA (more on that in a bit). Ever since she passed, my life has been *completely* upended, as I'm sure you can imagine. In addition to the devastating emotional turmoil of losing my best friend and the love of my life, I also had to deal with all of our belongings (and we had a LOT of stuff), take care of bills, taxes, accounts, death certificates, work, etc. It was a living nightmare.

As horrible as so much of it has been, I have some incredibly wonderful friends who've helped me out along the way. None of it has been easy, but those friends have made things a little easier, even if they're not aware of it. So, for starters, I wanted to recognize some specific people.

First up, John has been an incredible friend through all of this. He was close to Re and she helped him a lot in his life, and I know her death was a huge loss for him as well. John also let me stay at his place for a long time without ever asking, "Soooo... when are you gonna move out?" He just opened his home to me, and I'll be forever grateful to him for giving me that time and space while I waited to get my life and finances back on the rails.

Next, I have to thank Andrew & Malissa, as they're two of my dearest friends on the east coast (I've known Andrew most of my life). They, too, let me stay in their home for months late last year while I was back there waiting to spread Re's ashes in Vermont & New York during the peak fall foliage season. Just like with John, their kindness to a friend in need knew no limits, and I'm forever grateful to them. Their home was exactly what I needed at the time.

I also have to thank anybody who's been there for me, whether it was something big or something small - it's all mattered. Austin came with me all the way to Japan (along with John) just to be there for me as I began my long process of spreading her ashes. Brian kindly stayed with me in my apartment on those awful first days when I returned to town after she passed and had to start packing up things - some days being only able to finish packing a single box. George and Tracy gave me local places to crash whenever I needed them during those first awful months before I was able to finally put all the things Re and I owned into a storage space - and again, I'll be forever grateful to them. Brad let me keep my car in his garage for a while so I didn't have to worry about it. Shannon helped me find a wonderful place for people trying to get back on their feet to donate some of Re's art supplies to. Thanks to Re's sister, Seanan, who has kept in touch and setup a wonderful tribute to Re in her home and garden that I was happy to view in-person when I traveled back east last fall. Big thanks to Nathan for taking time off to get me out of town for a few days to go on a road trip to visit Antelope Canyon to help clear my head. I have to thank Justin and Hal for allowing me to take all the time I needed on stage at the Tournament of Nerds big anniversary show to share my story and get more people talking more openly about the disease of depression and suicide - this was a comedy show, so them still giving that platform meant a lot.

Of course, I have to thank my entire family (Mom, Dad, Chris, Noelle, Gordon, everyone...) for their constant support. They're always checking in, and I know it's because of their genuine love for me and wanting to make sure I'm getting by with the day to day. It's certainly not easy being on the opposite side of the country from all of them while grieving so heavily and constantly. Hearing their voices and reading their messages always helps though. I'm always with them and they're always with me. And I know they also lost someone whom they loved dearly - a daughter and a sister - just as Re's biological family did.

I have to thank everyone from Cyanide & Happiness for giving me all the time and space I needed to grieve and then return to working on our huge project. Kris - you're not just the best writing partner a person could ask for, you're also a damn good friend. Everyone on the team has been incredibly supportive and understanding, and I'm honestly lucky to know and work amongst so many incredibly talented and creative folks. Having such a huge project to focus on has been a welcome respite from the constant grief I've experienced since losing Re. I just wish she could be here to see all that we've created, and all that's still to come.

Additionally, I have to thank YOU. Yeah, YOU... the one still reading this. I know I only post about Re these days, and... well... she's pretty much all I think about outside of work. It's such a long road ahead of me, as it hasn't even been two years yet. I have to remind myself of that constantly, as I try to not beat myself up for not having been able to take her to even more places yet. "...And miles to go before I sleep." Truly. But most of you have stood by me this entire time — still reading my long-winded posts... still letting me pour my heart out... still supporting me with every little step forward I'm able to make, and it means the world.

And most recently, I have to thank my Scottish behemoth buddy, Andrew McGregor. He's the classic "giant with the heart of a teddy bear" type in every way — kind to his core. He was nice enough to reach out to some people and help me find a new house to live in - it's quite a unique, peaceful, and amazing house, with some absolutely wonderful roommates. I honestly know Re would've loved it here which, of course, makes it bittersweet. Still, without his help, I'd probably be living alone in a depressing studio like I was originally intending to do. I should also mention that he offered to let me live in his place as well. Like I said — kind to his core. Here's a photo I snapped on the day I moved in of my separate office space where I currently spend most of my time:

My new office.

So, that brings us up to current time. How am I? Honestly, I'm not well. How could I be? I've lost what matters most. I'm forever changed, and it's hard thinking about the future. But, I'm doing my best with what remains. I have steady work and I'm being paid again, so that's good progress, and I'm lucky to be a part of such a big project. I'm glad to finally be back in LA; Costa Mesa was a nice sanctuary for a while, where I could focus on survivors of suicide therapy, work, and rebuilding my life a bit, but it was hard not being around everybody else I knew out here or having a space of my own. Now that I'm back in LA and (mostly) settled in to my new home, I'm hoping I can start seeing all of you SoCal pals more often. No more having to drive 90 minutes in traffic just to get up here. Okay, it'll still probably take 90 minutes in traffic to see you, but at least it'll be in local traffic. It's the little things that make all the difference.

Anyway, that's all for now. I'm still living for Re and trying to make her proud every single day. I'm trying to enjoy the little things. I'm trying to keep moving forward. Here's hoping that spending more time with you now that I'm back up here will help make it sting ever so slightly less. Either way, I'm looking forward seeing you, and sharing some stories and hopefully some laughs again. So yeah, drop me a line sometime now that I'm back, and thanks for being my friends.

Soon as I was left alone in my new place, it hit me really hard, and I just burst into tears. It's so bittersweet being here without her; I know she would've loved the place and location. It's just so incredibly lonely. I know this was a vital step in the process of moving forward, and I think it's important to recognize that. I do acknowledge it, but that acknowledgment doesn't make it any easier.

June was a relatively quiet month, as I mainly tried to focus on work as I adjusted to my new surroundings. While driving through town, I stumbled on a billboard for a show called Sorry For Your Loss, and decided to give it a try. It proved to be very relatable, as it's all about a young widow (Elizabeth Olsen) who is a writer living in Los Angeles and dealing with the devastating apparent suicide of her husband (Mamoudou Athie). The two of them are spectacular in the show as it jumps back and forth between current time and their past married life together. The one line from the series that hit closest to home was this: "The reason everyone is telling you it's not the end of the world is because it's not the end of THEIR world. They don't have to figure out how to live inside a world that's over. You do." I couldn't have said it better myself. I guess it's just nice sometimes to not hear people trying to sugarcoat things. Sometimes seeing other people putting into words what you've experienced helps far more than hollow platitudes and wishful thinking. That's part of the reason I've written all of this; I hope reading about all this has been a comfort to those of you with your own struggles.

The next month was busy as expected, as I attended the San Diego Comic-Con once again for work to exhibit our upcoming Cyanide & Happiness adventure game. Before that would happen, my friends from Screen Junkies invited me to come on the big "Last Fighter Standing" episode of Movie Fights to deliver a similar speech to the one I gave at the Tournament of Nerds — which you hopefully saw in my previous update. Though I was nervous about doing the speech, I knew it was for a good cause and would have a chance of reaching far more people to get them talking openly about suicide and depression. It would also let far more people learn about what a wonderful person Re was. So, I wasn't about to let my nerves get in the way. I have to keep doing things that would make Re proud. It feels like an odd thing to say, but honestly, part of this new existence is learning to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. Here's my full speech (in case the video doesn't take you directly to it, my segment begins right around the 46-minute mark):

I survived another Comic-Con, and while I missed having her there more than any words can possible convey, it was nice seeing so many familiar faces stopping by the booth. All the hugs and hellos were most welcome. After Comic-Con, however, I knew things were only going to get harder once more, for the fall season was right around the corner.

Before the harder times arrived, September 1st marked a major milestone for me: It was the 20th anniversary of I-Mockery. This site was a huge part of my life, and many of my experiences with Re were documented on it over the years. While a good number of you probably saw my public post about it already, here's what I had to say about the anniversary for those of you who didn't:

Hard to believe, but it's I-Mockery's 20th anniversary, and I wanted to share some thoughts with all of you about the occasion.

I've always believed in celebrating big milestones, and while this was certainly never the way I intended to be spending the 20th anniversary of I-Mockery, I still want to recognize it. TWENTY YEARS. Sure, it's technically been around even longer since the site started out on Geocities back in the day, but I can't believe what was just intended to be a fun hobby has lasted for two decades. I know I haven't updated the site since Re passed, but I love looking back on all the wonderful times we had because of it. As a guy who used to write his own photocopied print 'zines to distribute them in school and local music shops, I never imagined my writing would reach an audience beyond the town I grew up in. I-Mockery opened so many doors for me, and I'm forever grateful for all the amazing experiences that presented themselves as a result of it.

My intention with I-Mockery was always simple: to create a place of my own where I could house all my stream-of-consciousness creative efforts, and share them with likeminded people who wanted to enjoy some escapism for a while. In-depth features, comics, videos, blog entries, tributes, original video games, pictorials, reviews, stories, becoming a b-movie & horror host, celebrating my favorite holidays, and more - I-Mockery was home for it all. I always worked on this site simply out of love and an innate need to create. I looked forward to it, even when I knew the workload for some of the larger pieces would be a huge endeavor, because I knew the end result would be its own reward.

It may sound corny, but I always considered it an honor to be such a big part of everyone's annual Halloween festivities. When I started the first annual "Two Months of Halloween" celebration, I never expected to meet so many wonderful weirdos who simply couldn't get enough of the spookiest of seasons. Now it seems like everybody is celebrating Halloween for a full two months (or longer) each year, and it's a great thing that always puts a smile on my face. It's a tradition we built together, and I love seeing so many people having fun with it in their own ways.

I-Mockery also introduced me to so many brilliant people over the years whom I'm lucky to call friends; being able to collaborate with many of them on countless endeavors was just an added bonus. Honestly, I can't thank all those talented people who've lent their time, energy, and creativity to my wide array of projects over the years enough. I truly believe we created a site that was unlike anything else out there, and I couldn't have done it without them.

Additionally, I want to thank ALL OF YOU who've stuck with me over the years on this absurdist ride. Having an audience who has been so enthusiastic and supportive for so long means more than you can possibly know. Writing can be an incredibly lonely vocation (especially since I did the majority of mine in the wee hours of the night), but knowing that I'd be hearing from so many of you whenever I posted some new content online always kept me going. Never underestimate how even a little bit of feedback can truly help fuel creative types.

Most importantly, I married Re, the love of my life, shortly after starting I-Mockery, and it's nice to be able to look back on our many laughs and adventures together featured on the site from over the years. Whether it was writing about our big road trip move from the east to west coast over a decade ago, sharing our amazing overseas adventures, or simply sitting down on the couch to record ourselves playing a song together, I'm so glad to have all those wonderful memories carved into digital stone to revisit whenever the mood strikes. I just wish Re was still here to make new memories with me.

I still have to figure out my place in a world without her — and there's no way to convey just how heartbreakingly difficult the process has been, and will continue to be. But I'm trying to keep moving forward in honor of her.

I know this post has the air of a goodbye, but I assure you, it isn't. Whether I resume writing for I-Mockery in the future, or simply leave it online as an archive for all to enjoy, is something I have yet to decide on. I still have a long road ahead of me, and more special places to bring Re's remains to, so please continue to bear with me. It hasn't even been two full years since she passed. I'd love to be spending I-Mockery's 20th Anniversary as I had always intended - by kicking off another huge "Two Months of Halloween" celebration on September 1st, but that's just not in the cards for me right now, as I'm sure all of you can understand. Right now, I can only live vicariously through you. That said, I've left the decorations up on I-Mockery so you can still enjoy all the years of Halloween content in the archives.

So, I hope you all have a terrific time celebrating the Halloween season, even though I won't be a part of it. It's the best time of the year, so run through a pile of crunchy fall leaves, stuff your face with seasonal candies, bathe in all things pumpkin spice, wear day-glo monster masks, watch cheesy horror flicks, and just soak it all in.

Lastly, if it's not too much to ask, I'd love to hear from all of you. Maybe share some of your favorite I-Mockery memories from over the years... or simply drop a comment down below to say hi.

Again, thanks for welcoming me into your lives for the past two decades. Thank you for so many fantastic years. It's truly been a privilege, and I hope I can one day resume entertaining you again.

With love, gratitude, and flickering jack-o-lanterns,


I really do wish I could've celebrated I-Mockery's anniversary that day, but as I've stated before... I'm just not there yet. For those of you who've been asking: I'm still not sure where things are headed with this site, but I do know that I will need all of your help to keep it running at some point in the future (even as an archive), as it's burning a hole in my pocket at this point. But I'll figure that all out later on down the road and let you all know how you can help when the time comes. I'm not going to let it just disappear though, so please don't worry about that. I've had some people message me saying they've been downloading and saving all their articles from the site out of fear that it's going to vanish. This place has been too big a part of my life — and gratefully, many of your lives — to allow that to happen. We'll figure things out, but for right now, there are more important things for me to deal with.

Another nice thing happened in September; one of Re's sisters was kind enough to run a 5k for suicide prevention in her honor, and she even wore a shirt during the run featuring Re's incredible artwork. Shortly after, that same sister's wife gave birth to their first child, whom they also named after Re. I was very touched to hear this, as I'm sure she would've been. Those two wonderful women are going to be amazing parents and I'm very proud of them. It's also nice to know that somebody from yet another generation will get to learn all about what an amazing person Re was. Their daughter has the honor of being Re's namesake.

October was always going to be a hard month, just as it was in 2018. It was our favorite time of year, and this one would be extra excruciating as October 30th would mark our 20th wedding anniversary. With that in mind, I'm sure it's a bit more clear as to why I wasn't exactly interested in celebrating this site's two decades of existence. This was an anniversary I had looked forward to with Re for years. I was supposed to be celebrating being married for twenty years to the most selfless, loving, amazing woman I had ever known as we went on another adventure together. Instead, I was alone and had to do my best to still give her an anniversary that she would've loved.

So, I decided that the week of our anniversary would mark the next step in my ongoing journey to spread her ashes in special locations. I would take her to the Pacific Northwest. On the day that I was leaving town, I shared the following post and video with my friends and family:

By the time you read this, I'll already be off the grid on my way up in the Pacific Northwest in hopes of finding another special spot for some of Re's ashes. Tomorrow, October 30th, would have been our 20th wedding anniversary. This is obviously far from how I ever imagined I'd be spending the occasion. The two of us always talked about going away together on another one of our big adventures for our 20th. I remember looking forward to hitting our 20th at such a relatively young age, and had no doubts we'd reach our 50th and beyond.

Sadly, everything changed with Re's tragic passing, but I still want to celebrate what would've been our 20th wedding anniversary, so that's why I'm taking her up north for another adventure. I need to be alone with the love of my life. With any luck, I'll find a special place for my beautiful Halloween bride, and I'll be sure to share details and photos of it later on if things works out.

In the meantime, I thought I would share a video from around 2012 that went unreleased, because we never had a chance to finish it. Re wanted to sing Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me" for a Halloween music video, and while we got through most of it, my old Casio guitar wasn't cooperating with the solo in middle portion of the song (shocking that 1980s Casio technology couldn't handle such a thing very well, I know). We planned to come back to finish it later on, but never got around to it. Seems fitting, though, as there are countless things about my life with the most wonderful person I've ever known that feel incomplete. So many things we still had left to do together...

I always loved it whenever she mustered the courage to suppress her anxiety and record one of these videos. Her playful spirit and the fall season are forever entwined, and I hope you all enjoy another glimpse of Re when she was still so full of life. This was our absolute favorite season together, and that's why we got married during it. I'll be out of touch for the week, but I hope you all have a wonderful Halloween, and please continue to keep Re in your hearts and think of her when you're putting on a costume, walking through some crunchy fall leaves, drinking some hot apple cider, or doing anything else to celebrate the season.

And so I left for what would be an arduous, solitary week, reflecting on all my years with the love of my life as I searched for locations worthy of her remains. After returning from my Pacific Northwest trip, I slowly started rolling out updates on the newest places I had found for her. Here's the first post and collection of photos from that trip:

Hi all. Time for an update. For what would've been our 20th wedding anniversary, I decided to take Re up to the Pacific Northwest to the Oregon and Washington coastlines. Having been there myself back in late 2011, I always told Re that I wanted to take her up there so she could see the same magical coastline. While we went on a number of fantastic trips together, we never did make it up there, so it seemed like a fitting place to take Re to hopefully spread more of her ashes. I only hoped that my sentimental memories of the locations wouldn't let me down.

My first destination was Cannon Beach, as I marveled at its wide shoreline and awe-inspiring sea stacks, including Haystack Rock (which many of you may know from The Goonies). If any area along the Oregon coast could possibly be a future home for some of her remains, I was certain that Cannon Beach was the leading contender.

On my drive to Cannon Beach, I saw "Don't Give Up" painted on the side of a barn. I unconsciously nodded at it as I drove on by, as if the universe was reaching out to remind me that none of this would be easy, but it was absolutely necessary. If nothing else, it's a fine mantra for this ongoing somber process if there ever was one, and it's a phrase I found myself repeating in my head quite often on this trip whenever I was second-guessing myself.

Upon my arrival on October 29th (the day before our anniversary), I walked for miles on Cannon Beach in hopes of finding a special new place for my October bride. Originally, I assumed Haystack Rock itself would be a wonderful location, but there really wasn't a spot amongst it that felt right — not to mention zero chance for privacy while spreading some of Re's ashes — so I walked some miles farther south.

While searching for a location and taking photos of the gorgeous coastline, I was struck by the sun setting directly above the silhouette of one of the large, pointy sea stacks in the area known as Silver Point. It was almost as if the rocky formation was pointing directly at the sun so it could tell me, "X marks the spot."

Given the distance from Haystack Rock, the two sea stacks at Silver Point were quite secluded by comparison. I had indeed found my first magical spot for her, but waited until early the next morning on October 30th when it would be low tide, hardly a soul would be on the beach, and it would actually be our 20th wedding anniversary.

Despite the beautiful mist along the shoreline, the next morning was bitter cold as expected. My hands were hurting just from typing in little notes into my phone that I didn't want to forget. I cracked a little smile as I approached the Silver Point sea stacks, as some seagulls decided to keep me company once again, even though I knew they were hoping for a meal.

I spread some of her ashes on some large stones closer to the hillside, directly across from the giant rock formations, so she'd always be facing the two Silver Point sea stacks and the Pacific. Since it was now low tide, I also walked right up to the pointy one I had seen directly under the sun the previous day and spread more of her ashes high upon it.

I was struck by all the textures on the sea stack — mussels, seaweed, barnacles, blue top snails, green anemone, surf grass — she would've loved it. She often took photos of textures out in nature as inspiration for her stunning artwork. Her rock also had a small cave in its base. Not large enough for me to pass through, but the opening provided a picturesque little window to the Pacific behind it.

The two Silver Point sea stacks will forever remain side by side. Just like the two of us. And with enough distance, if you walk far north on the coast and turn around to look back at them, the two Silver Point sea stacks blur together and become one. In time, I hope the same can be said about Re and I.

Happy 20th Anniversary, my love.

NOTE: This would not be the only location I found for her on our 20th anniversary on the Oregon coast. When I have the time and energy, I'll share details and photos of that special spot. After that, I'll tell you all about the wonderful place I found for her way up north in Washington as well. Until then, thanks as always for reading these updates as I do my best to honor Re's memory, and thanks for continuing to keep her in your hearts.

Photos of where I took her to at Cannon Beach:

About a week later, I posted the second update from my Pacific Northwest trip:

Hi all. Tomorrow is going to be painful as ever, so I wanted to share this now. Continued from my previous post — After I was finished with my stay at Cannon Beach, the next stop on my list was Ecola State Park, which is just a little north from there. Ecola State Park had long been on my list of locations to scout out, but I never expected it to offer up such surprises. Upon my arrival, I walked on a short trail that gave me some nice wide open views of the ocean, but when I looked to the south from Chapman Point, I noticed there was what appeared to be a completely secluded beach some miles away. Crescent Beach. I soon discovered that there was a longer trail to Crescent Beach for experienced hikers that I could take. I had other places to visit, but my mind went back to that barn side from days before — "Don't Give Up" — so I began the hike.

It was an uncharacteristically sunny day in the PNW, and the long, steep, winding trail from the park down to Crescent Beach was spectacular. I was surrounded by huge pine trees and large exposed roots on the forest path, yet I could always hear the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean off in the distance no matter how far inland my hike took me. Up my arrival at the beach, I headed south towards the sea stack rock formations and large cliffs. They reminded me of the "Cliffs of Insanity" from The Princess Bride. And while I would not be scaling them that afternoon, "As you wish" did pop into my head, as if she had asked me to continue exploring the area in search of another special spot for her. After enough time passed, I was about to head back up the arduous trail, but then decided to head to the northern side of the beach just in case there was anything worth seeing.

From where I had been standing on the southern end of Crescent Beach, the northern side had some nice large rocks scattered along the shoreline, but didn't appear to have anything else that was going to take my breath away. And that's why I was astounded when I walked farther north and discovered a hidden waterfall around a corner that filtered directly out into the Pacific. This wasn't mentioned on what I had read about Ecola State Park earlier in the year.

As I saw the waterfall sparkling in the sun under a cliff of trees perched above, with their roots completely exposed, and the water falling alongside some cairns other travelers had left in the past atop a large piece of sun-bleached driftwood, I knew I had found a second location on this trip for the love of my life. It was such a serene, private little spot, and I could just picture Re smiling at it, putting down a beach towel, and taking a nap with me on the sand while we listened to the harmonious sounds of the waterfall and the tide.

Two beautiful locations for her in one day; given the circumstances, I couldn't have asked for more on our 20th anniversary.

On the strenuous hike back up into the forest, I passed my knowledge of the hidden waterfall to a few couples who walked by, secretly envious that they still had time to go on many more adventures together in this life. When I arrived back at my car, perhaps as a reward for taking a chance on the winding Crescent Beach trail, a number of large elk had gathered around to graze in the nearby meadow. Oregon was certainly pulling out all the stops for me on this trip, and I'd encourage all of you to see its stunning northern coastal region sometime in your lives if you haven't already.

With my time in Oregon now complete, I would soon be making my way up to Washington for what would end up being the biggest surprise of the entire anniversary trip. I'll share details about that part of my trek sometime in the near future. In the meantime, please take a look at the photos from Ecola State Park and Crescent Beach.

Before I go, I just want to remind you all that this Tuesday, November 12th, will be two years to the day since we lost Re. I can't speak for all of you, but to me, it feels sooo much longer than two years. These have been the absolute longest, loneliest, most draining, and tearful years of my life. They've been lifetimes. Her absence is felt with every single thing I do — from the largest events and adventures, to running simple errands and going to bed at night wishing I could once again feel the warm weight of her head resting on my chest as we drifted off to dreamland in each other's arms. Time has yet to heal that longing even slightly, and I doubt that it ever will. Time isn't meant to heal all wounds... sometimes it's just meant to help you accept that you have to carry them.

I'll be off on my own again, but whatever you do tomorrow, please think of Re. Remember some way she impacted your life, whether it was through her friendship, her artwork, her humor, her kindness, or just a simple interaction that stuck with you all these years. While it's undoubtedly a day for mourning, I'm sure she'd want all of us to try and focus on the fond memories that still make us smile.

Thanks for reading this latest post, and I'll talk to you all again soon enough on the other side of two years.

Photos of where I took her to at Ecola State Park and Crescent Beach:

Before I could post my third and final update from that trip, the second anniversary of Re's passing had arrived on November 12th. It was a tearful day and I made one simple post:

Re - My Love

Two years. Two lifetimes. The weight of her absence has been felt every lonesome second of it. Our only recompense is knowing she's at peace. Please keep loving memories of her in your thoughts today.

After taking her to Will Rogers State Beach on the 12th, and dreaming of her napping on my chest in the sun once more like she used to do whenever we visited those tranquil sands, I took the rest of November to recover. I also had to travel to Colorado for work shortly after, which proved to be a nice distraction from all my personal grieving. At the start of December I was ready to share the final spot from my Pacific Northwest trip, which also turned out to be my favorite of the three:

With my time in Oregon behind me, I continued my northbound trip up into Washington. When I was first planning this trip, one of the stops I was certain I wanted to make for her aside from Cannon Beach was the Kalaloch Tree Of Life in Olympic National Park. The photos I had seen of it looked beautiful, so I thought it might be a great contender for another location to spread her ashes. After driving through a number of long, winding roads through logging towns, I arrived at the campground near the coastline and made my way to the tree. Seeing this inexplicably thriving tree with all of its roots exposed and dangling in the small cave below was indeed a sight to behold, but it didn't feel like the right spot for her. I can't really explain it, but I just get a feeling when I've found a place that I know is right for Re, and as special as this tree was, it wasn't the right kind of special for her. So, while I was glad I visited the remarkable Kalaloch Tree of Life, I knew I had to press onward to the north.

The other location I decided to take a chance on was Cape Flattery on Neah Bay, which is part of the Makah Reservation and the most northwesternmost part of the contiguous United States that you can stand on. After driving for several hours, I ended up on the reservation driving down some dirt roads that were completely off the grid, hoping they would lead me to the trailhead. Thankfully, the directions I had didn't steer me wrong, and I was soon hiking my way through the relatively easy Cape Flattery trail (which even provides visitors with walking sticks to use). I honestly didn't think I was going to find much there, I had just marked it down when I was planning my trip because I thought it might be nice for Re to have a spot in the very top of the Pacific Northwest, since I had previously found her such a wonderful location in the Northeast at the Ausable Chasm. What I wasn't prepared for was just how incredibly stunning the end of the Cape Flattery trail would prove to be.

After walking through the well-maintained trail that practically felt like something out of Rivendell, complete with weathered wooden walkways winding through the woods, I was floored by the natural beauty that the cliffs at Neah Bay had to offer. It was one of those rare take your breath away locations. While it was a somewhat overcast day, it couldn't take away from the bright blue waters crashing into the naturally carved out sea caves down below. There were a number of sea caves right next to each other, and it made it appear as though a large, rocky foot was sticking out of the land. And then, at the very end of the trail, I was hit with the sight of a tree overlooking the bay. A magical tree. Her tree.

The second I saw this tree, I knew it was perfect for her. I even caught myself saying "Oh wow" aloud upon first spotting it. It was located at the absolute end of the trail in the northwesternmost point of the country, practically a stone's throw away from Canada. Her new tree was magical and clearly shaped by the crosswinds — giving it an almost bonsai-like appearance. The moss that was dangling from it also gave it a weeping willow aesthetic, and I know she would've loved it.

So, with nobody around, I walked around the side of the viewing area and made my way over to this peaceful little tree and spread her ashes. It was already a small miracle that it didn't rain at all during my time in the Pacific Northwest, but finding such an unexpectedly breathtaking spot for her was something else altogether. My Halloween on this day was a solitary one, just as it had been the previous year, but as I closed my tearful eyes, I imagined Re's ghost was smiling next to me as I stood by her special tree on the edge of Neah Bay.

While I did explore more wonderful locations in the lush Olympic National Park forest the next day — including the pristine Lake Crescent and the cascading Marymere Falls — Cape Flattery at Neah Bay would prove to be the final location I found for Re on the trip. And honestly, after finding that gorgeous spot, it was hard to imagine there would be anything else on this trip that could rival it.

Five days, three new locations, and no rain. While I had plenty of anxiety about the trip itself, my travels through the Pacific Northwest worked out better than I had expected. I still have a long ways to go, with more of her remains to spread, and I'll soon need to start making decisions about where I want her final locations to be, but that will have to wait until next year. I found some amazing locations for Re this year, and with any luck, 2020 will lead me to some more. I hope I can finish this process sometime next year, but as I've stated from the beginning, this simply cannot be rushed. The road ahead may be long and hard, but her road was far more difficult, and this is the best way I know how to pay homage to her indescribably loving spirit. I just hope what I've done so far would've made her proud.

Thanks again for all your kind attention as you've kept Re in your hearts through this ongoing journey for her. I hope what I've written so far has given you a window into what it's been like, and while no photographs can truly do the beauty of the actual locations justice, I hope you're still able to enjoy them.

Have a wonderful holiday season this year, and I'll talk to you all again in 2020.

Photos of where I took her to at Cape Flattery, Neah Bay:

To say this most recent trip was an overwhelmingly emotional journey for me would be an understatement. Going on trips like these is such a sorrowful undertaking. This entire process has been my elegy for her. Painful as it may be, it's what feels right and makes sense for me to do as a tribute to Re in the most loving way I can think of. While the future remains uncertain, I can at least focus on finding her these special places until all of her remains have finallly been set free out in the world.

I suppose it's the natural order of things... the mourning always comes before the morning.

It's now mid-December, and with Christmas, my birthday, and New Year's Eve all in the same week, it's not something I'm looking forward to by any means. While I know it's going to be a painful time of reflection, I'll get through them just as I did last year, and I still cling to the hope that I'll be able to enjoy them once again later on down the road.

A friend of mine recently asked me how I'm still holding it together, saying she didn't understand how I'm not in total shambles all the time. First off, there have been times during these past two years where I absolutely was in shambles. That's part of the grieving process, and it's not something you can bypass, nor should you be ashamed of it. In many ways, I feel as though I'm still in shambles, as my entire life remains in flux and I'm beyond heartbroken, but I told her that I'm keeping it together as best I can because that's what Re would've wanted. I'm doing what I can and trying to live in a way that I hope would make her proud. After all, trying to live a good life that would make those who came before us, those who left us too soon, and those who come after us proud is something we should all strive for.

I may be a person who no longer has a compass — I have no clue where this life is going to take me now — but Re will forever be my North Star.

Re - North Star

Once again, thanks to all of you for sticking with me on this long journey so far. I can only hope I'll have more luck with finding special places for her in 2020. I'm also going to try participating in more fun things in the coming year when that guilt-ridden voice in my head telling me not to doesn't get the best of me. Hopefully you'll get to be a part of some of those things, including the release of the game I've been working on with C&H. I miss all of you more than you know. As always, I'll try to keep you updated on here and on my Twitter account. I also have to thank those of you who've continued to leave unbelievably kind comments in the past year. I've read every single one of them and they're incredibly touching. As I've stated before, I truly love hearing from all of you, so please do leave a comment below if you can.

Thanks for staying with me and I hope you all had a wonderful 2019.

With love,




NOTE: If you haven't read the initial story above, please scroll to the top of this page to read it first.

Hello, friends. I know it's been quite some time since I last shared an update on here — two years, in fact — but it hasn't been without reason. For a while I had been making steady progress on my journey to spread Re's ashes in special places around the world, and I certainly thought I would've completed that process by now, but then we were hit with the global pandemic and everything came to a screeching halt. As much as I wanted to continue taking her places, I know she wouldn't have wanted me to risk my own health in order to do so. Unfortunately, that meant I had to do a lot of waiting — and I know I'm not alone in that. So many families had to put off funerals for their loved ones during this pandemic. So many people couldn't even travel to see their loved ones. It really felt like the world ended all over again.

Despite this soul-crushing setback, I've certainly had ample time to continue reflecting on losing Re and how I now see the world without her in it. I've thought back on all the mental gymnastics she had to perform just to get through each day with her clinical depression, and how only now do I feel as though I truly comprehend on some deeper level what an uphill battle she was against. It's one thing to empathize with a person's struggles — it's another thing entirely to go through them yourself. Don't get me wrong, I still went through all those struggles alongside her every single day, but I was still experiencing them on a different level than she did. Now, however, I'm having to perform similar mental gymnastics of my own, as thoughts of her absence frequently make me feel as though I've lost all purpose in life other than continuing to spread her ashes and letting people know how incredible she was.

I've been stuck in a sort of existential stasis; a liminal space where I feel as though I've yet to begin moving forward in this new so-called life.

Sometimes I still catch myself daydreaming fantasies where I was able to save her. I even catch myself smiling because I saved her in my mind, but then reality kicks in and I realize it was just a dream. I get that this is just my mind's natural way of trying to give me some grief relief, but in some ways, it makes things harder with more of those "What ifs..." I've discussed before.

Re - My Love

Re was also my muse. I found her drive and work ethic so impressive and her inimitable creative genius inspiring. And with everything I worked so hard on for all those years, there was always this secret hope within me... a hope that it would lead to even greater success so I could give her a better life. I think that's partly why it's been such a struggle for me to return to all the fun stuff I used to work on... that secret hope left with her. My life used to be so big and full for those 20+ years with Re, but now it has shrunken down to the point where I barely even recognize it. I often worry that I'm disappearing. People joke around about having midlife crises, but I am in the middle of my life and enduring a legitimate crisis after my entire world fell apart. Re has become my phantom limb. No... she's more than that. She's my phantom heart.

In all the time ruminating about this tremendous loss, I think I've identified one key difference between happiness and sadness: When I was with Re, I always felt like there weren't enough hours in the day. Now that she's gone, I feel like there are too many. It speaks volumes, doesn't it?

It's been over four years since Re passed and there are still many times where I'm surprised to discover just how fragile my emotions are. Recently, a song came on that she once played for me to help express how much she loved me and it broke me. Within seconds of hearing it, I crumbled down into a crying mess of a man, unable to control the tears. Time has passed, but the hurt is still so incredibly raw, and it can so easily tear away at any barriers I've built up to help myself get through the days. It's utterly exhausting.

There's no way to accurately emphasize just how taxing such a loss is — even years later — to constantly be reminded that the love of your life is dead. You can be sitting at your desk, working on something completely unrelated and WHAM! It pops in your head and both your concentration and emotional state are instantly reduced to rubble. Then you have to find your way back to some sense of a normal state of mind so you can resume your work. This continually happens to me. It's my new normal.

And please don't misconstrue what I'm saying here — I'm still able to enjoy things like seeing friends & family, having a good meal, watching fun movies, and life's other little joys. It's just that now there's this undercurrent of sorrow beneath all of it, and that's a damn hard thing to carry around all the time. Re knew that kind of sorrow more than anybody I've ever known.

She carried such emotional weight her entire life, courageously moving forward all those years despite having such a cruel disease constantly plaguing her mind. And while I've certainly been more depressed than I've ever been these past four years, I still recognize the difference between the clinical and the situational. All I'm trying to do is keep moving forward... to keep honoring her memory in the best ways I know how and am able to. I've always been a writer, and I'm extremely fortunate to still have an audience of any kind after being off the grid so frequently, so keeping her memory alive by sharing her story seems like the best use of my abilities. And knowing that sharing her story has helped so many other people facing similar struggles is both an honor and something I know she would have liked. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Re loved helping people.

So, here we are several years later, and I think it's time to share some news about what has happened since my previous update in late 2019.

I received word in November of 2019 that bone & tissue donations were used for various orthopedic surgeries. This was already wonderful to hear, but in 2021 I received something even better. Here's a recap of that news when I shared it:

Hi all. I haven't been on here in quite a while now, but I had to login to share this news. Due to privacy policies, it's rare for the surviving family members of organ & tissue donors to ever hear much (if anything) about patients who received the donations, let alone hearing directly from them. I mentioned a while back that Re was an organ donor, but I never had any form of contact with somebody she helped. I've been waiting for years, hoping that I'd hear from one of the recipients.

Well, just this past week I received word from the organization acting as a middleman between parties that one of the recipients had written a letter and that it was being forwarded to me.

It turns out, not only did Re help a young girl who needed new heart valves (as I was informed from the donation organization), but she also helped another woman who needed spinal surgery. I'll share my thoughts in a bit, but that woman was kind enough to reach out and send the following hand-written letter:

Re's organ donor letter

"Dear Donor Family,

I am writing to thank you for the kind and generous gift of tissue donation from your loved one. I am so sorry for your loss, but I want you to know that your decision to donate has changed my life in a very positive way.

I needed a tissue transplant because I had a spinal surgery after three years of severe pain. It's a miracle!

For this I am very grateful to you and your loved one.

I will always remember your act of kindness and generosity.

Thank you so much,

She's no longer with us, yet Re continues to help those in need just as she loved to do in life. My heart is beyond broken, but I'm forever proud of her and honored to have shared a life with such an incredible woman.

A few important thoughts:

1) If you're not already signed up to be an organ donor, PLEASE do so. There's simply no excuse not to, and it can literally save lives.

2) If you're the fortunate recipient of an organ/tissue donation, I understand how it might feel awkward or like you're overstepping boundaries by reaching out to surviving family members — it's common for recipients to feel guilty or like they would only make things worse – but I assure you that's not the case. I've been waiting for YEARS to hear from anybody who was thankful for Re's donation. It's extremely emotional, of course, but hearing from a woman describing Re's donation as "a miracle" after she had been in pain for years made me smile. It's exactly the kind of thing that Re strove for in life, and I know she'd be smiling to know that she helped somebody so profoundly. So again, if you're a recipient, please take the time to reach out... it means more than you could possible know.

I still cling to the hope that I'll eventually hear from that young girl who received a piece of Re's heart. Having some of Re's heart inside you... I can think of no one on this earth more fortunate.

I was surprised and elated to receive that letter, and as you'd expect, it reduced me to tears. It also felt magical, because one of Re's earlier works that I always loved was her "Surgeon" piece that literally featured a spinal surgery:

Surgeon - by Marie Murphy Barr

Incredible, right?

Another touching thing that happened was Re's niece got a tattoo of her beautiful "Atrium" piece:

I was reduced to tears (the good kind) this afternoon by my wonderful niece. She has begun the process of getting a tattoo of one of Re's paintings ("Atrium" - coincidentally one of my favorite pieces of hers) and it already looks gorgeous. Re would be so honored to have *anybody* get a tattoo of her artwork, let alone somebody whom she loved and adored so much. It's such a loving tribute to Re, and I can't wait to see more photos of its progress along with the finished piece. It's nice to know that everybody who sees this ink on her for the rest of her life will be seeing something beautiful that Re created. I can't thank Laura enough for this touching homage. That's all for now... I gotta go dry my eyes. How wonderful.

A tattoo of Atrium - by Marie Murphy Barr

That really was such a lovely gesture, and the final piece turned out gorgeous as you can see. I love that she even included Re's signature on it.

Later in 2020, I had to face some more painful dates, starting with our wedding anniversary:

Another anniversary without my beautiful Halloween bride. Still can't believe I got to marry such an incredible woman... and still can't believe she's gone. Unplugging for the day so I can at least spend it with her in spirit. Happy anniversary, my love.

Re - My Love

A few weeks alter, this was followed by the third anniversary since she passed:

Today marks three years since Re passed away and the loss still feels as fresh and indescribably tremendous as it did then. While I'll be unplugging and spending the day alone with her in silent reflection, I wanted to call attention to just one of the countless brilliant works of art from her heartbreakingly truncated life.

Some years back, Re was invited to participate in a matryoshka doll art show, and the Ukrainian in her couldn't have been more happy to get those wonderful gears in her mind turning and coming up with ideas. Rather than go with a more traditional nesting doll design, Re and that boundlessly creative mind of hers came up with this special set wherein it was revealed that an enterprising bunny had constructed a robot so that it could shop for heaping bundles of carrots under the guise of an ordinary human being.

Nesting Doll - by Marie Murphy Barr

Much of Re's artwork was incredibly beautiful and somber by nature, and it often reflected many of the struggles she dealt with in life, but there were also pieces like this that showcased her playful spirit and sense of humor that anybody who knew her absolutely adored. Everything about Re was unique and she refused to compromise her artistic integrity to emulate whatever was popular in the art scene at the time like so many of her contemporaries would. It's one of the things I always admired most about her and I still wish it had resulted in more success and recognition like she deserved.

Anyway, I just thought you would all like to see this and learn a little more about this brilliant soul that world has lost. Please keep her in your loving hearts on today of all days.

Another nice thing happened in early 2021 thanks to NASA's Perseverance rover successfully landing on Mars. How does this relate to Re? Allow me to share my update from that period:

Hi all. Today is a special day I've been waiting for. Re always dreamed of traveling to other planets and loved visiting JPL along with countless space & science museums over the years. Well, today NASA's Mars Perseverance Rover finally touched down, and I was fortunate enough to get Re's name electron-stenciled onto one of the three fingernail-sized chips onboard.

I just love knowing that a tiny piece of her is on Mars.

You made it, my love.

Re made it to Mars

As you can see from the photos above, Re loved NASA and we even visited JPL in the past, so even getting to fulfill one of her dreams in a tiny, symbolic way felt good.

Of course, I had to face yet another wedding anniversary without my beautiful bride in October of 2021:

It's October 30th, and today marks another anniversary without the love of my life, Marie. Getting married to Re was the best decision I ever made, and being the one lucky enough to call himself the husband of such an incredible, talented, loving, and courageous woman will forever be the honor of my life.

For our anniversary today, I'd like to share a photo from our wedding. Re didn't want to hire a standard wedding photographer for the event; she found one of her own... an artist. After all, our entire wedding was really another art project for her – from her beautiful dress lined with fall leaves, to all the autumnal decor of the event itself that she was hyperfocused on for months. Why would our photographer be any different? I think she simply liked the idea of giving another artist a paying gig. Re always encouraged her creative comrades.

Re - My Love

When we eventually received our photos from the guy, we couldn't help but laugh about how all of them looked like they were shot back in the 1950s. It's something we laughed about for the next two decades whenever we looked at them. We loved our ancient, fuzzy wedding photos.

Love and laughter – that's what carried us through all our years together. I just wish they could've carried us further together. Far past the awful disease of clinical depression that cheated her out of the full life she truly deserved.

But if our wedding photo aesthetics are any indication, we were married for well over 70 years.

Today, I'll be spending all my time alone with thoughts of my beautiful Halloween bride – dreaming of walking on crunchy fall leaves together once again. Warm, fuzzy memories and fuzzy photos abound.

Happy anniversary, my love.

Last November also marked the fourth anniversary since Re passed, which was a particularly hard day:

Four years. Four years without the loveliest person I've ever known. Yes, I miss all our travels and incredible adventures around the country and overseas. Yes, I miss going out around town and never getting tired of seeing how much cheer a simple meal could bring to her face. But at the end of the day, what I miss most are the little things. I miss the comfort of knowing that no matter how tough things were for either of us on any given weekday, we'd always be lying on the couch in each other's arms that evening. And I know it meant equally as much to Re. That was our special time, and nothing was allowed to come between it during the week.

Re - My Love

It's a peace I haven't known in four years now. It's a peace that meant to me more than anything in all my years. The simple peace of being in each other's arms and her lying on my chest. That's why every single day I still look at this photo of the two of us just being happy goofballs. It's an endlessly heartbreaking reminder of just how profound this loss is, but it's also nice to stare at and see how truly lucky I was to be with the greatest woman I've ever known for half of my life.

I hope you'll all be thinking of Re today — not just about how much we lost four years ago when she left our world, but also just how much good she did and all the joy she brought us in the short time she was here.

Despite the painful anniversaries and long delays, I'm pleased to report that 2021 did end on a positive note, as I was finally able to take advantage of a small safety window and travel to a new location for Re. Here's what I had to say about it at the time:

I know it's been quite a long time since I last checked in with you about spreading Re's ashes, but I'm sure you can understand why. The global pandemic put an immediate halt to all the progress I had been making in my ongoing journey to place her in more beautiful locations around the world. I don't think any of us imagined the pandemic would still be going on nearly two years later, but here we are.

The past two years have been agonizing in many ways — and I know I'm not alone in feeling that way by a long shot — but my living in isolation for most of this time was compounded by no longer having Re to share my days with. Before the pandemic, I had been trying to be social and enjoy life's little pleasures here 'n there again, but so much of that was thwarted when the world shutdown.

The cruel irony of all this is that Re would have THRIVED during this pandemic. She relished her alone time and working from home on her various art projects. Those of you who were close to her know exactly what I'm talking about. I can only imagine her artistic output during this period would've been akin to a personal renaissance. It feels like such an awful joke.

Of course, I also just wish she could've been here for my own selfish reasons — so I would've had company to spend all this lonesome time with. My favorite company — hers.

Well, I got vaccinated quickly, but still wasn't feeling safe to travel in those early months of the pandemic when so little was still known at the time. And I knew the last thing Re would've wanted was me risking my health to take her to more places. But this past December, I got my booster shot and decided it was finally time to do some domestic travel early in the month to spread her ashes.

I mentioned in past updates about how I spread some of Re's ashes in upstate New York and Vermont during the awe-inspiring fall season, but she and I always talked about moving back east to New York City someday as well. We're both from New York and figured it was inevitable we'd end up there again eventually – after all, we almost relocated there before we decided to do our big cross country move to California. Well, we're both New Yorkers at heart, and knowing how much she loved NYC, I had always planned on finding a spot for her there as part of this ongoing process. So, when the opportunity to take her there presented itself, I leapt at it.

Despite having my booster shot, I had lots of anxiety about traveling for the first time in two years, but knowing that I might find a special new location for her was all the motivation I needed to push forward. And it turns out it was worth it. I had an easy direct flight with nobody sitting next to me on the plane. More importantly, on Tuesday, December 14th, I took Re to the Brookyln Botanic Garden and thankfully found her a stunning new home.

As you can imagine, during all my time away from traveling the past two years, I tried taking advantage of it by looking up potential places I could take her to as soon as it was safe to do so. Of all the parks in NYC, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden was always atop my list. Aside from how both of us loved Brooklyn, and my own family history there, this particular park simply checked off all the right boxes for me in terms of a perfect setting. As much as we enjoyed Central Park, it has boatloads of people visiting every day; when dealing with the emotional toll that coincides with spreading her ashes, I need peace and privacy. The last thing I want to worry about is having to rush this process because I'm in the way of somebody wanting to take a selfie.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden has a dreamlike Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden area built way back in 1914 that's absolutely beautiful year round — especially during the fall and the spring. Luckily for me, there were still some remnants of the fall colors still clinging on despite it being December when I visited. Here's their own description of the area:

"The Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden is one of the oldest and most visited Japanese-inspired gardens outside Japan. It is a blend of the ancient hill-and-pond style and the more recent stroll-garden style, in which various landscape features are gradually revealed along winding paths.

The garden features artificial hills contoured around a pond, a waterfall, and an island, along with carefully placed rocks. Architectural elements include wooden bridges, stone lanterns, a viewing pavilion, a Shinto shrine, and a dramatic vermilion-colored wooden torii."

What I love about this area – and all of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for that matter – is that it quickly transports you to another realm. You simply forget that you're still standing in the middle of a gigantic city. Tranquility like this is in short supply just about anywhere, let alone in NYC.

My uncle accompanied me on the drive to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and we were fortunate enough to have warm weather, sunshine, and absolutely clear blue skies for this special day. I had already been eyeing that vermilion torii gateway from afar, but after walking along the pond and seeing the Japanese Maple still somehow showing its fiery red leaves in mid-December while reaching over the calm waters just behind it, I knew I had found another perfect spot for Re. I've mentioned it in the past, but Re absolutely loved colorful maple tree leaves, so I'm glad to have found a Japanese maple that she can forever grow with.

It was honestly giving me similar flashbacks to Naritasan Temple; the second location I spread her ashes in Japan back when I began this journey. Another stunning pond with colorful koi swimming around, only this time it was a the Japanese Maple tree that was still showing its colors. But right next to it were more cherry blossoms that I know will be equally eye-catching come springtime.

Maple leaves in the fall. Cherry blossoms in the spring. Perfection.

Now she gets the best of both seasons in one completely serene location — and it's all in her favorite city in the world. I may have been crying due to the emotional weight of the day, but I couldn't have asked for more out of this special spot that now has the honor of being her newest home. When you see these photos of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden that I snapped while there, I'm sure you'll agree.

I truly hope Re loves her new home. I hope resting by her tree and torii gateway delivers her the same kind of peace that anybody feels when walking through this dazzling locale. And I hope she knows I'm still going to find her more exceptional locations when I take her overseas as soon as I'm safely able to.

Hopefully soon enough, my love. Soon enough.

Photos of where I took her to at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden:

I'm glad I was able to travel when I did, because shortly after, we were hit with the Omicron variant and now I'm back to the waiting game to see when it will be safe to travel for her again. I can only hope that the wait won't be quite so long, because I have some places overseas I really want to take her to. It's still a long road ahead, and I am prepared for however long it takes me to walk it, but the pandemic frustrations are making an already difficult task even more emotionally demanding. We'll just have to see how things play out this year.

In the meantime, I've still been keeping busy with work on the C&H Freakpocalypse trilogy of video games, and I've also written two books that you'll all hopefully get to enjoy sometime once I'm able to finish the layouts 'n all. It's nice to be creating things again, as that's something I've always felt an innate need to do. Work helps, but it does feel like that's all I do these days since I have nothing else to focus my attention on other than continued mourning, so I can't say that it feels like I'm living a life. When the nights are as long as they are, working on these personal projects helps fill those lonely gaps of time, though I can't help but continue to daydream about all the time I spent with her... and should be spending with her.

The only choice I have is to just continue being patient and keep moving forward in ways that would make Re proud, and hopefully someday I'll feel like I'm living some sort of life again. I'm trying, my friends. I'm really, really trying.

So, now you're all caught up on what's happened in recent years for the most part. I hope you and your loved ones have all been staying safe and healthy in this bizarre, dystopian world we've found ourselves living in ever since the pandemic began. Keep trying to enjoy whatever little things you can and know that I'm still here trying my best to do the same. We'll talk again whenever I have another batch of updates to share. In the meantime, you can still keep up with me on my my Twitter account, as I still update it with random, fun tidbits here 'n there for those of you who'd like to see some glimmers of the old me. And as always, thank you for all the absolutely lovely comments that you've left below. I read all of them and they mean more than you know.

A sampling of the stunning artwork of Marie Murphhy Barr

Until next time, please continue to take care of yourselves, and thanks again for sticking with me through all these hardships and still caring enough about Re to learn more about her life. Re's absence is felt every single day, but sharing her story and beautiful artwork with others still keeps that extraordinary woman here.

With love,



Epilogue — Marooned Without You.

NOTE: If you haven't read the initial story above, please scroll to the top of this page to read it first.

Hello, friends. It's been roughly a year since my last public update on here, so I wanted to fill you in on how 2022 turned out to be both a time of intense reflection and significant progress — I once again spent a substantial time alone thinking about Re, but was also able to spread her ashes in some astoundingly beautiful new locations. 2022 was a hard year, and as I sit here writing this entry on the tail end of it all, it's honestly a bit difficult for me to believe I'm still standing after everything endured during that time... let alone during the five years since Re passed.

I think I comprehend on a deeper level just what Re experienced her entire life with clinical depression. Having any cause for celebration that's always tempered by the grief lurking just below the surface is beyond exhausting. But I've had something to help drive me forward through the pain all along — more on that later.

Re - My Love

While I'm currently doing my best to decompress from the events of last year, I'm pleased to report that I finally completed this five-year journey of taking Re to beautiful places around the world. Today, I'd like to share them with you, my dear friends who've been so caring and generous with your time to read all these entries. Our first destinations are Ireland and Iceland. Here's what I wrote about the first leg of the trip back in May of last year:

I've been absent on here for quite a while, but I wanted to check in and share some good news about my recent overseas travels where I found some incredible new locations to spread Re's ashes. At the beginning of May, I headed to Ireland and Iceland with plans to drive around the perimeter of both countries in their entirety. Before I share the details, I have to thank my good friend Brad for joining me on the trip — we hiked roughly 75 miles over the course of our two weeks in both countries due to the incredibly long days at that time of the year. And in addition to being a great travel companion, he gave me all the time and space I needed to find those special new spots for Re.

First, I'd like to share a little background information about why I chose these two countries:

For starters, Re and I spent part of our honeymoon in Ireland (the other half was in Scotland), but we only got to explore Dublin on that trip and always wanted to return to see the rest of the country. Also, being a Murphy, Re was part Irish, and she always joked about how you could find a Murphy just about anywhere. Of course, anybody who knew her could tell you how much she loved Guinness, and when you asked her where it all went after she had a few pints, she'd explain, "it's in my hollow leg." Classic Re.

Iceland, on the other hand, was much like Japan in that it was a place we had always dreamed of traveling to together. She was particularly fascinated with the country's incomparable landscapes, glaciers, and seeing the Aurora Borealis. Given all the traveling we had done when she was still here, we were convinced it would only be a matter of time before making our way to Iceland... especially since it's only a two hour flight from Dublin. On a related note, the very first gift I ever purchased for her after we had been dating was a Björk CD, and she kept it all these years.

So, now you know why I chose Ireland and Iceland as the next two countries I would take her to after the two year hiatus I was forced to ride out due to the pandemic. I knew they were countries she always wanted to see and was confident I'd be able to find some incredible locations for her.

With that in mind, I don't want to overload you with too much info in a single post, so today I'm going to share photos & details from the first of three places I found for her during my travels. I'll share the other two locations in the coming weeks whenever I'm up for it. Okay, let's begin:

I kicked off my travels in Ireland by spending some quality reunion time with my longtime friend April (who was as our wedding) and her absolutely lovely family who live in Chapelizod (a village in Dublin). I explored beautiful places like the Howth Cliff Walk, Loughcrew's incredible panoramic views, the Devil's Glen gorge & waterfall in Wicklow Forest, and the Glen Beach Cliff Walk, but still hadn't found a spot for Re despite all the lengthy hikes. I was quickly starting to worry I might not find one at all in Ireland, but that was just a few days into our trip, so there was no real reason for the anxiety. I guess after two years of waiting, I just really wanted things to work out so Re could be back out in the world that she loved to explore. Thankfully, Kerry delivered shortly after with a stunning spot on Lough Leane in Killarney National Park.

Upon arriving at the park, we walked along a paved road for a bit before breaking away off the beaten path and finding a tranquil dirt trail that went through woods rife with gorgeous trees all resting on stone cliffs along the edge of Lough Leane. Ivy and blue bonnet flowers abound, and even an owl nearby, I knew I was in a special place as a halcyon breeze passed between the trees.

Then I saw her special new spot. Once again, it hit me instantly as it stood out from all the others in the area. A beautiful pine tree with uniquely smooth bark and overlooking the Lough with a small island just off in the distance. As was the case with many trees in the area, her tree had impressively strong roots considering it had sprouted out from solid rock. I kept following the trail along Lough Leane for quite a while just in case I happened to discover a better spot, but in my heart I knew I had already found the one. Much like when I met Re, sometimes you just know when you've found something or someone special. With that in mind, I eventually turned around and made my way back to her strong new tree overlooking those calm waters and set some more of her free.

Marie Murphy Barr, my Irish beauty, now has a permanent home in the land of her ancestors. I hope she loves it and continues to grow with her tree overlooking the serene Lough Leane.

Thanks as always for reading and looking at these photos of her first new location. I'll share details about her next spots in the coming weeks. I hope you've all been well and please continue to keep Re in your hearts.

Photos of where I took her to in Killarney National Park:

A little over a week later, I shared the story of the next location I found for her in Ireland:

Continuing the journey in the Emerald Isle, we made our way up the west coast into Northern Ireland to explore more of the incredible coastline. One nice thing about traveling there in May, the sun sets after 9pm at that time of the year, so we took full advantage of it on our hikes, including our next big one along the Giant's Causeway Trail in Northern Ireland. We experienced a few scattered showers, but it was mostly a gorgeously sunny day with breathtaking views.

After a visit to dazzling Dunluce Castle, we parked at the far northern end of the trail — specifically the North Antrim Cliff Path from Dunseverick Castle — and hiked all the way down to the Giant's Causeway, which took under three hours. Despite having seen photos of the Giant's Causeway countless times, I couldn't believe its mind-boggling natural hexagonal stone formations when I saw them in person, as they truly look like something man-made rather than a natural phenomenon. After gawking over the geometric geology, we hiked another back up the trail in reverse over the course of several hours knowing I would be stopping by the location I first spotted for Re on my way in. I just had to walk the full trail first to make sure I had found the right spot, and boy did I ever.

Nestled on the far northern side of the long, winding trail was a small stone wall resting along the edge of a dramatic cliff. As remnants from a time long ago, it had since been overgrown with grass, moss, ivy, and even some lovely flowers that somehow found a way to thrive on a portion of its stone bricks despite the often heavy winds. All this with breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and all the massive cliffs along the edge of the trail.

Just before arriving at this special spot on the hike back, our sunny day suddenly turned rainy, so we took shelter behind the northern side of this old wall now covered with ivy. As we crouched down behind it, this small, time-tested wall gave us all the shelter we needed from the strong winds and rain, and it struck me as quite poetic that Re's next special spot would protect us from the elements. As I listened to the rain, I was staring at the ivy resting right in front of me on this unassuming wall and realized we weren't the only ones using it for shelter. A wide variety of tiny insects were clinging underneath its leaves, waiting for the rain to subside.

As the saying goes in Ireland, "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes." Sure enough the rains did pass to make way for the sun again. Then, just after emerging from behind the wall and turning around, the largest, most vibrant rainbow I've ever seen in my life appeared over the Atlantic. From the angle I was standing at, it appeared to end right at Re's new location.

I always talk about waiting for something to feel right or looking for signs when I'm searching for new beautiful places for her. There was no question about it now – I had found another incredible location for Re. So, with tears in my eyes once again, I spread some of her ashes in this stunning spot that was providing me with more than ample signs that I had found a perfect spot for Re. It simply doesn't get more poetic or magical feeling than that. "Luck of the Irish" indeed.

I love that Re now has homes in both the north and south of Ireland. I hope she loves her two beautiful new resting places as much as I do. As heartbreaking as the process is, it continues to be such an honor to take her to each dazzling location.

Again, thanks so much for reading and looking at these photos (even though they can't capture the experience of seeing this place in person). I'll share details about where I took her in Iceland in my next update when I'm ready. Until then, keep Re in your hearts and take care.

Photos of where I took her to on the Giant's Causeway Trail:

After wrapping up things in Ireland, our journey continued onward to Iceland, which is undoubtedly one of the most astonishing and unique countries I've ever had the privilege of visiting. Here's what I had to say about it:

It's time for the conclusion of this latest journey I took for Re. On our final day in Ireland, we took a ferry over to Rathlin, the northernmost part of the country for a hike around the beautiful island with clear views of Scotland. It was an perfect way to spend our last day in the Emerald Isle, but now it was time for the next leg of this big journey: Iceland.

We took a a quick two-hour flight into Reykjavik, picked up another rental car, and then began our drive around the entire perimeter of Iceland over the course of five days. This was a place Re had always wanted to visit, so I was hoping I could find her a permanent home in this surreal land, especially since I was going to be there on her birthday.

Re was fascinated with Iceland's mystifying scenery, always wanted to see the aurora borealis, and yes... she loved Björk. In fact, the very first gift I ever gave her when we began dating all those years ago was a Björk album (it's a CD she never got rid of). While I wasn't fortunate enough to have a clear enough night to see the northern lights, I did get to experience Iceland during the time of the midnight sun, and managed to find her a lovely new spot thanks to all that extra daylight. It just took longer than expected.

We drove up the east coast of Iceland and went on some lengthy hikes in the frigid weather, essentially on an expedition to view the most impressive waterfalls the country had to offer. I've honestly never seen so many waterfalls in my entire life. Ireland may have an abundance of greenery and rainbows, but it's hard to imagine any other place on Earth holding a candle to Iceland's sheer volume of waterfalls. As stunning as the waterfalls are, they're often surrounded by nothing but alien-like rock formations. Iceland is unquestionably beautiful and awe-inspiring, but it's also cold and desolate in most of the places you visit. These places were all spectacles to witness for sure, just not the kind of beauty & serenity I've been seeking for Re throughout this process. Not getting lucky with the weather in Iceland quite like we did in Ireland didn't help matters either, as a good number of days were dreary and rainy.

Re also loved black sand beaches (I still have some wonderful photos of her in Hawaii when we visited one), so knowing that Iceland was a volcanic country with more than its fair share of them, I had high hopes I'd find a spot for her on one. Reynisfjara Beach and the astonishing Diamond Beach (Breiðamerkursandur) were incredible sights to behold, but even if we had good weather, neither spot felt quite right for Re. I've mentioned before how I always wait to find a place that feels just right for her, and unfortunately, none of the black sand beaches we traveled to quite fit the bill.

We continued our journey up to the northernmost part of the country and back down the west coast, admiring the seemingly boundless landscapes, hiking through more otherworldly terrain, and witnessing unreal sunsets during the midnight sun (we certainly took full advantage of those incredibly long days). Oddly enough, it would be on the final full day of travel all the way back in the city of Reykjavik where I'd find a spot that I loved for her.

Reykjavik is an absolutely fantastic city, and I love how quirky, friendly, and walkable it is for anybody looking to explore its colorful streets. While there, we visited a number of charming spots, and I finally found a new home for her in Hljómskála Park (Hljómskálagarður) on a nice day. It's a gorgeous park situated right between the University of Iceland and the heart of downtown Reykjavik. When we first drove by the park, I quickly spotted the tree that would soon become her home.

Facing lake Tjörnin that swans and ducks glide through peacefully, her new tree has not one but three trunks. I like to think one trunk represents her, one represents me, and one represents the two of us joined together. It's a beautiful tree, and considering the park has a variety of impressive sculptures in it (all of which were created by women — something I know Re of all people would appreciate), flowers abound even in May, picnic benches, and a playground nearby where you can hear the laughter of happy children, I think it's a place she would love. It's peaceful to walk around the entire park path while admiring the lush scenery, and Reykjavik has a thriving art scene that Re would feel right at home in.

And now she is at home in it. A forever home of tranquility.

Once again, this was a somber privilege bringing her there and seeing such an amazing and undeniably unique country. I still have more traveling to do in the future before my journey for Re is complete, but I'm thankful this long trip yielded three incredible new locations for her. Thanks so much for reading and I hope you enjoy these photos of her beautiful new home. And as always, thank you for continuing to keep Re in your hearts.

Photos of where I took her to at Hljómskála Park in Reykjavik, Iceland:

Two beautiful countries. Three lovely locations. It had all been absolutely worth the effort. As you can imagine, I needed some serious downtime after that physically & emotionally draining trip, but I was relieved that the travels were a success. I spent the months that would follow recuperating and focusing on work, but the year was far from over. First, I had another wedding anniversary to get through, and then November rolled around shortly after to mark five years since Re had passed. Knowing this was going to be an incredibly taxing day, I sought solace once again in writing about it:

Re - My Love

Today marks five years since Re passed away. It's honestly hard to fathom so much time has passed... discovering her that incomprehensibly terrible night still feels so fresh in my mind. The pain of losing her hasn't subsided, nor has the the perpetual loneliness that followed. I've accepted this is all part of losing the love of my life, but acceptance doesn't alleviate the anguish. Being a widower has simply taught me what to expect out of any given day when my mind has time to wander and reminisce about the best years of my life. I continue moving forward for her.

And while I was closer to Re than anybody, I'm not the only one who lost her. A sister was lost. A daughter was lost. A friend was lost. A brilliant artist and creative spirit was lost. An inspiration was lost. We all lost her. We lost her to that awful disease of severe clinical depression that tragically clouded her mind from seeing any other way out of the pain she was in. I can only hope beyond hope that she's now been dealt a better hand than the one this world burdened her with.

Earlier this year, I resumed my process of honoring Re's memory by taking her to Ireland and Iceland to spread more of her ashes. Very soon, I'll be taking her to another beautiful land where we experienced our greatest overseas adventure together. It's my deepest aspiration to find her some stunning final spots and draw to a close this process of spreading her around some of the most dazzling locations the world has to offer. It has been a privilege to be able to do so, but it's a heartbreakingly painful one as well. Nevertheless, I've frequently reminded myself these past five years that her remains don't belong in a box with me.

She was always happiest when we traveled, and so I just want her to be out there in the world... forever free.

On this profoundly tearful day, please think of Re and remember how she impacted your life. And by all means, please feel free to share some memories of her with others. Celebrate her. Whether big or small, if she was a part of your life in any capacity, I hope you know how truly lucky you were to have known her. Despite all this crushing sorrow I've experienced these past five years, I'll forever feel incredibly fortunate to have spent the more than twenty years that preceded them with such an immeasurably kind, unique, and loving soul. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: being her husband was a gift and the honor of my life.

I'll be traveling again for you soon, my love.

And travel soon again for her I would. Despite having already gone to Ireland and Iceland earlier in the year, I was still making up for all that agonizing lost time that the pandemic hit me with, and I was determined to finish what I set out to do. "But I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep." And I knew exactly where I was going to take her next to fulfill those promises: New Zealand.

Ever since I set out on this long journey to spread Re's ashes around the world, I knew that I wanted to conclude it all in the land of our greatest adventure: New Zealand. We had so many wonderful travel adventures together, but New Zealand was undeniably on another level altogether. I never expected it to take five years to reach this point, but here we are. I've just returned from taking Re back to New Zealand, and while I'm absolutely spent both physically and emotionally, I'm pleased to report I found three beautiful locations for her while I was there. Today, I'll share the first of them:

After flying 13 hours from Los Angeles to Auckland and not being able to sleep at all on the flight — undoubtedly due to the anxiety over the gravity of this trip — I picked up my rental car after some delays and started making my way north. I may have been exhausted, but I didn't want to let any time there go to waste in case I had difficulty finding her those precious spots. For the first three hours, it seemed like a disaster in the making. Virtually all the roads were under construction, which caused a huge amount of traffic, and there was unseasonably torrential rain on top of it all. Then, once I was finally beyond all the traffic, I discovered the one road I was driving on that cut through to the far north area had been out for months, and it wasn't noted on Maps. Now I had to backtrack and take the long detour around just reach my first destination.

After a short break for lunch at the lovely little Pukenui Pacific cafe, I now at least had some food in me to keep pushing through what was feeling like a 24-hour nightmare. It didn't help that I was completely alone on this final trip and had to try keeping my spirits up without the aid of a friend. I just reminded myself of how Re pushed forward through so much adversity in life, so I hoped the remainder of the day would turn out well.

Boy did it ever.

While the sky remained overcast, the seemingly endless rains finally ceased for a bit and I even saw the sun peek through the clouds a few times. Also, once you get far north of Auckland, you won't encounter much traffic as the urban landscape gives way to rolling farmland hills peppered with sheep and gorgeously idyllic little towns nestled on the edge of the sea.

So why was I headed up north? For one thing, far less travelers go exploring up there, so I thought it'd be a nice way to start things off with less people around. I also read up on Cape Reinga beforehand and believed it had a lot of potential. It's the northwesternmost point in New Zealand, and having already taken her to the northernmost spots on both the east & west coast here in the states, I liked the idea of doing something similar for her in New Zealand.

Cape Reinga is also where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean, and it has a wonderful lighthouse at the end of a walking path, so I had a very specific destination in mind.

Best of all, it's a spiritually special place according to Māori mythology, said to be where "souls leap off from this world and depart for their eternal home" — so you can imagine how I had high hopes for the area. Just reading about it, Cape Reinga sounded like pure poetry.

As I hiked down the little paved walkway leading towards the Cape Reinga Lighthouse, I came around a bend in the path and verbally gasped the second my eyes focused on what would soon become Re's first resting place in New Zealand. Nestled on the path between the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean, with the Cape Reinga Lighthouse behind it, there sat a perfect pōhutukawa tree shaped by the winds overlooking the stunning scenery. These trees are known for being able to survive in the harshest conditions and for flowering in vibrant red colors. Strength and beauty. Sounds like Re, doesn't it? There weren't many large trees in the area, yet here this one stood as if it had been waiting for me to come find it. And now Re is a part of it.

Cape Reinga will forever "Cape Re" as far as I'm concerned.

What began as a horribly exhausting day ended with magic. I suppose the lesson here is to keep pushing forward, friends. I know it's incredibly difficult sometimes — I *really* know — but it's so important to keep going. Regroup when you need to and do something simple to clear your head — whether it's to see some friends, watch a movie, or simply have a cheese toastie sandwich lunch break. There's nothing wrong with pausing to collect yourself during hard times.

I'm still decompressing from such a physically & emotionally draining trip overseas, but I'll do my best to share the next spot found for her in that dazzling country as soon as I can. In the meantime, I hope you all had an absolutely wonderful holiday while I was away and can now enjoy these photos of her lovely new "Cape Re" home in New Zealand.

Photos of where I took her to at Cape Reinga ("Cape Re"):

After taking another break, I shared the second entry from the New Zealand trip for Re:

After discovering a dazzling spot for Re at Cape Reinga, my next destination was Cathedral Cove. I spent the entire next day driving there through more torrential rain, and then waiting until the following morning to catch a window of sunshine I could take advantage of. While waiting for conditions to improve, I did manage to visit the impressive Rainbow Falls in the interim... it was already raining, and the entire area felt like a genuine rainforest, so I figured more water couldn't hurt. It was an absolutely lovely waterfall, but it wasn't speaking to me as a place for her even if the weather conditions were better.

For those unfamiliar with it, Cathedral Cove is a well-known location on New Zealand's Coromandel Peninsula that thousands of people visit each year, and it's easy to see why. I made the hike down the path to Cathedral Cove and couldn't believe how it felt like a surreal tropical paradise. The stunning archway at low tide was a sight to behold, and some of the large rock formations along the water reminded me of where I took Re to Cannon Beach in Oregon some years back. As much as I liked the extraordinary Cathedral Cove archway itself, it didn't feel quite right for Re. It was bustling with a good number of tourists snapping photos, and not quite as peaceful as the previous places I found for her.

However, on my way down the long winding path lined with spectacular purple wildflowers, I was immediately struck by the view of a strong tree situated on a hilltop overlooking the water. It was both peaceful and powerful — resting with ease against whatever mother nature could throw at it. Sure, I liked some trees on top of Cathedral Cove itself, but there was no way to reach them, and this special tree was in a far more serene spot, enjoying the light ocean breeze and the distant sound of waves crashing on the shore. On my hike back up from Cathedral Cove, the tree was still on my mind, and when I saw it standing out so strongly against the backdrop of rapidly shifting skies, I knew it was the right place for her.

I walked up the hill, leaned against this exquisitely halcyon tree, and soaked in the sun, the fresh air, and the soothing sound of the waves below. It was so calming and peaceful in this spot. I noticed several other families had even put homages to their departed loved ones by this tree, so I wasn't the only one struck by its stand-out beauty. What a sublimely special tree for Re.

Cathedral Cove was high on my list of places to visit on this trip, not just because of the archway, but the entire area itself. I heard the hike to it was gorgeous and it did not disappoint one bit, including the short detour down to Stingray Bay. I also walked the entirety of the nearby tree-lined Hahei Beach, and it was easily one of the nicest ones I've ever visited — and that's really saying something. I said it ten years ago when Re and I first visited their country and I'll say it again: It feels like New Zealand won the nature lottery. If you ask me, there's simply nowhere in the world with more varying & natural beauty, and that's exactly one of the main reasons why it's the perfect place for her.

The next time I update, I'll share the final location I took Re to in New Zealand, which also marked the conclusion of this heartbreaking five-year-long journey of spreading her ashes around the world. I'm sure it's gonna be nearly as rough to get through as the journey itself, but writing these entries means a lot to me — both in terms of honoring her radiant, adventurous spirit and to document every step of this process so my emotions and experiences are never lost to time and imperfect memory. As always, thanks for keeping Re in your hearts and continuing to read these entries.

Photos of where I took her to at Cathedral Cove:

As I mentioned in my entry about Cathedral Cove, the following entry would prove to be an extremely emotional undertaking, as it was the conclusion of the five-year journey for the love of my life. I took my time writing this lengthy summation, but I still don't think any words can capture what I had experienced on that long, final day for her. Nevertheless, here's everything I had to say about it:

To my dear friends & family,

This is it — my final travel entry in this five-year journey for Re. It's gonna be a long one as I'm sure you can understand, so get comfortable and let's begin.

I was feeling good about finding a nice window of weather at Cathedral Cove for Re after experiencing constant downpour, but it turned out mother nature wasn't through with me by a long shot. The rain kept on coming down even stronger than before. This didn't bode well for the final location I had been planning on taking her to for years: The Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

For those of you who don't already know, when Re and I visited New Zealand back in 2012, one of the things I really wanted to try doing was the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Re, always the adventurer, was up for giving it a shot with me despite having to wake up incredibly early in the morning in order to do it.

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is known as one of the greatest day-long hikes you can do in the world, and for good reason. The dramatic scenery changes greatly over the course of this lengthy hike, including everything from tall mountains and active volcanoes, to stunning emerald lakes and even a rainforest-like section. As pleasing to the eye as it is, this is NOT a hike for beginners. It's a long 6-8 hour hike, much of which is uphill — including the dreaded Devil's Staircase — so you need to be prepared to tackle it. The path has signs frequently encouraging travelers to turn around and go back due to the hardest parts still being ahead of them. And some do just that after a few hours... it's not Everest, but people have still died on the Tongariro.

Now Re had accomplished a great many things in her life, but doing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing forever remains one of my favorite adventures with her. Many of you probably don't know this, but a year prior to our visiting New Zealand, Re was having all kinds of health issues due to her Thoracic Outlet Syndrome compressing her blood vessels and nerves. It was making her so weak that she could barely walk to the top of the small hill we were living on at the time, and this certainly didn't help with her clinical depression. I remember walking arm in arm with her up that little hill and worrying about her health so much at the time.

But Re was determined to overcome it. She went through painful physical therapy sessions over the course of the next year and was soon running up that hill in our neighborhood faster than Kate Bush could sing about it. Re was a fighter. She fought her entire life to keep moving forward. It's really important people know that about her.

Cut to a year later, and this incredible woman who previously couldn't walk up a street was determined to conquer hiking up a mountain. She was so courageous. I remember the tears in her eyes after she completed some of the most difficult sections like the Devil's Staircase. I literally had to point way down to where we began our hike and she didn't believe me. "No we didn't! We haven't hiked that far!" I couldn't help but laugh at her disbelief at what she had already accomplished.

The Tongariro would reward us multiple times that day — first with our arrival at the sacred Emerald Lakes which are so incredibly beautiful to see in person that no photographs can possibly do them justice. One of my favorite photos of Re (which I'll include in this update) is of her arrival at the Emerald Lakes. Just her staring out at them, shimmering in the sun, and what I can only imagine was her marveling at how she successfully made the climb to them and how all the effort of the past year had been absolutely worth it. It was one of her great triumphs and I was so damn proud of her.

Still am.

We had also noticed a LOT of smoke emitting the red crater area, but with this being our first time on the Tongariro, and seeing signs reminding visitors that it's an active volcano zone, we just brushed it off assuming it was completely normal. A short while later, we felt a rumble and then saw a massive explosion: The Tongariro had just erupted for the first time in over a century! We were absolutely awestruck as a huge mushroom cloud formed over it, and some of you probably remember our classic vacation photo standing in front of it with big smiles before we bolted down the hillside. A large cloud of ash formed, and thankfully the wind was blowing it in the other direction, but it was crazy for us to think of what happened had we been standing in that same area only 15 minutes prior. Fortunately, nobody else was hurt there that day.

But WOW... talk about a once in a lifetime experience. We couldn't believe our luck, and what a great reward it had been for taking a day out of our New Zealand trip to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, and for all the effort Re had put in the year prior to be fit enough to make the climb. I don't think anything we did on our countless adventures came even close to that experience, and I'll never forget Re's wide-eyed excitement, laughter, and pure joy from that day.

Jump forward to 2022, and I had planned on doing the Tongariro solo on the EXACT same day we did ten years prior. It was to be the final place I would spread her remains at after these five long years. I thought it would be a poetic ending to this heartbreaking journey, but also a celebration of just how much she had still overcome and accomplished over the course of her tragically short life. But as I mentioned at the start of this entry, mother nature had no intention of making this final stop easy on me by any stretch.

After leaving Cathedral Cove, I started making my way down towards National Park Village where I would be staying at the same exact lodging that Re and I stayed at a decade prior. Same place we rented all our hiking gear from as well. The plan was to get there, book the shuttle that would drop me off at the base of the hike, and then get a good night of rest before the big day that was undoubtedly going to take a massive emotional & physical toll on me.

Let's also not forget that I'm ten years older than the previous time, and while I exercise a lot so I don't get out of shape from working behind the computer all the time, this was no mere walk in the park. The Tongariro wasn't an easy hike for me ten years ago, so it surely wouldn't be easy for me this go around — especially with all the emotional weight I was now carrying in addition to my pack itself.

But immediately after I finished renting my equipment, the weather took a turn for the worse and I honestly don't think I've ever seen it rain harder anywhere in my entire life. And that's really saying something. Here I was, sitting in my hotel room, filled with anxiety about doing the hike the next day, and conditions were only getting worse. Then I receive an email saying they had cancelled the shuttle because it was going to be too dangerous to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. I was devastated as I had built myself up all this time to do the hike on the exact day we did ten years prior... but it was now out of my hands.

Since I had time to kill, the next day I visited a few nice destinations that weren't too far off, and I did a two-hour loop hike to Taranaki Falls in the rain. I figured it'd be better to get out an see some more sights like that beautiful waterfall than languish in my room all day being depressed about the Tongariro plans being postponed. I was glad I did it as it helped get me out of my head, and I reminded myself that Re would've done the same.

The weather forecast wasn't looking good for the remainder of the week in the area, and they had already cancelled the shuttles several days prior, but I booked one for the following day in the earliest morning time slot hoping things would be at least somewhat acceptable. Based on what I was seeing, it looked like I could catch a good 7-8 hour window before the next massive rainstorm came in if I left super early. Fine by me. I could barely sleep anyway. Thankfully, they allowed the shuttles to operate in that early slot the next morning, so off to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing I went.

I'm sure it was a combination of the anxiety, the lack of sleep, the recent bad weather, and the emotion of the day that laid ahead, but those first few hours hiking on the Tongariro were absolutely grueling. I rarely have trouble hiking, but I was frequently taking breaks... feeling sick to my stomach and the tears were flowing all along the way. Considering you're constantly walking on loose volcanic rock, the terrain is also often hell on your feet, even when you're wearing good hiking boots. I'm still amazed I walked away without a sprained ankle given how many times I lost my footing.

One thing I was warned about was, despite catching a good window with little rain, all the recent weather had resulted in some crazy high winds. It would've been real nice if those winds had been helping push me UP the climb, but instead they were against me the whole way, and my pack felt like a sail that was aiding those massive gusts with their repeated attempts to blow me over. Those bracing winds also reminded me of why "alpine" is included in the name of the hike, as the frost coated my head and it was hard to even feel my face and hands by the time I was way up there.

But all along the way I just kept reminding myself what Re had been through and overcome in her life, and that I had a promise to keep in taking her up to those ethereal Emerald Lakes. I continued kissing her wedding rings that I was still wearing around my neck. This was my chance and I wasn't going to let her or myself down. "Turn Back Now!" signs be damned.

I eventually made it to those otherworldly Emerald Lakes, and despite the complete absence of snow this time due to all the recent rains, I imagined Re standing in front of them just as she had all those years ago. My entire body was shaking, but not from the cold... just from the realization that this was it. This was the moment my five-year journey for her had been leading up to. It was so hard to let go of those last remains, but I knew it was time, so I spread a little bit of her around each of the Emerald Lakes and found a secluded spot off the main path for the final portion. Sitting on the edge of those beautiful shores, I shared with her everything I had built up inside me since she left this world. All the sorrow. All the heartache. All the love.

And then I let her go with the winds along on that serene emerald shoreline.

It was done. She was no longer waiting within a little box inside my backpack for me to find her another destination.

She was free.

The remainder of the hike is a total blur. I just remember eventually collecting myself enough to finally stand up, and then my legs took over and went on pure autopilot, carrying me the rest of the way while my mind wandered over the events of the day and the past five years.

I'm sure it sounds silly to some, but given that the Tongariro also served as Mount Doom, Mordor in Lord of the Rings (which is one of the reasons Re and I visited New Zealand to begin with since we loved the films & stories), I couldn't help but feel like a sorrowful Sam, only this time making the precarious climb without Frodo at his side. And I thought about Galadriel telling Frodo about how being a ring-bearer is to be alone. It sure is.

But this journey was my great honor and privilege to do for Re. I've brought her to many beautiful places in the world that I hoped she would cherish, starting with that first exquisite cherry blossom tree in Kyoto, Japan. And now, I've brought her back to a place that I know with 100% certainty that she loved: the awe-inspiring Emerald Lakes at the summit of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

It's been weeks since I returned from New Zealand and I'm still decompressing from all the exertions — both physical and emotional — of that long journey. Of this five-year journey since Re left this world.

Of course, I still have more things I hope to do for honoring her memory, but this particular chapter of my life has now drawn to a close. And while closure doesn't exist, there is some small relief in knowing I finished what I promised myself I would do for her after she passed. Funny thing is, Re never would have wanted me to do all this for her... she would've said I'm crazy for going through so much trouble.

But this was so important for me to do. It was part of my grieving process and it was how I wanted to honor her adventurous and eternally kind spirit. There was nobody like Re, and somebody so special deserved so much more than what this world gave her in life... the least I could do was make damn sure it gave her more in death. And telling all these stories of my travels has also allowed me to share more of who Re was and what she meant to so many with all of you. It's been my way of keeping that indescribably extraordinary woman among us well beyond her years here in this life, and to show the love we shared.

Worth the effort? That question never even entered my mind.

I'll share more updates when I have them, but I wanted to thank all of you who've read these admittedly lengthy entries and encouraged me all along the way these past five years. I've lost the love of my life, but I try to remind myself there's a lot of love in my life, and I'm always thankful for that. And now I send that love back to all of you.

With love,


Photos of where I took her to on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in New Zealand:

While I was more than drained from all the travel — the last thing I wanted to do was get on another plane — I decided that it'd be best to go back home to spend the holiday season with family and my lifelong friends. What I originally thought would only be a few weeks stay, ended up being over a month. I think I just really needed the time to recover and be surrounded by the people I love. My heart needed it.

But my visit back east wasn't just to see family and friends... I still had one more thing I had promised myself I'd do for Re.

I've only told a handful of people about this, but something I promised myself I'd do when I finished this heartbreaking process of spreading Re's ashes was to get a special tattoo back in Richmond where we first met.

People have often asked me how I've survived these past five years and taken Re to all those places, and the answer is quite simple: Re left a note for me. I've mentioned it before, but the details of the note were only shared with those who attended her wake.

Well, in addition to telling me how much she loved me, among her final words was a phrase that has stuck with me ever since we lost her. Whenever things have been seemingly unbearable (far more frequent than my writing can illustrate, I'm afraid), I've repeated these three words she left me:


Re used to say "Make me proud" from time to time when I was working on a big project or something important, and it would always make me smile. Her leaving me with those words before she departed this world was perhaps Re's final gift to me. A lifeline to grab a hold of to ensure I would keep moving forward when all seemed lost.

Make me proud. This was Re's last wish. How could I allow myself to do anything short of that for a woman who did more for me and showed me more love and support than I ever dreamed was possible? I couldn't, so that became my mantra. I would do everything in my power to try making her proud.

Everything I've done since that day... every important decision, every struggle, every time I had to pick myself up when all I wanted to do was never leave my bed again... it was all because I remembered her telling me, "Make me proud."

And now here we are, a month since I was finding her first spot at Cape Reinga in New Zealand, and I've returned to Richmond to get this special tattoo I've been waiting five years for. I was with Re when she got her first tattoo from Amy Black Tattoos in Carytown — it was a wonderful experience and her tattoo was absolutely gorgeous. Thankfully, Amy is still there and was able to work me into her busy schedule before the holidays since she had a late cancellation and knew how important this tattoo was to me.

Make Me Proud - My tattoo for Re

As you can see, just as with Re's tattoo, my new tattoo turned out beautiful. And it's not just the words that are from Re... if you look closely, the "Me" is an homage to how she signed all of her artwork with a double-M. I hadn't really told anybody about it, but I thought it'd be another nice way to honor her memory with this piece. Even the cherry blossoms & buds on it are exact copies of the ones Amy drew on Re's original tattoo, and I'm sure some of you recall that the very first place I spread her ashes was under a cherry blossom tree in Kyoto. It's all connected. It's all her. This being my first tattoo, and all the emotional weight behind it, I couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out.

Now I'll have another piece of Re as a part of me forever. And if the lifeline she left me ever fails to pop up in my mind during dark times, all I'll need to do is look at my forearm to be reminded of all the strength she gave me with her love and those three simple words.

Re always made me proud... I'll spend the rest of my days in hopes of doing the same for the love of my life.

2022 was a monumentally important year for me, filled with powerful emotions and profound journeys that I honestly wasn't sure I could endure. But now it's done. It's all done. Here we are now in the new year... and while I'm relieved to have completed what I promised I would do, I feel perhaps more lost than ever.

This feels incredibly selfish to write — especially considering she's the one who's no longer here and I was lucky enough to be her husband while spending over twenty years together — but I feel like I've been cheated out of a full life. I wanted to grow old with Re. I wanted to see the two of us age together. I genuinely looked forward to it. That's what I signed up for. It's all I ever wanted. Just an elderly, dorky couple who still spends their evenings snuggling on the couch, watching our favorite shows & movies while taking comfort in each other's arms. But I've been robbed of that experience, just as Re was robbed of so many of the joys life has to offer those who don't struggle with severe clinical depression. Re was robbed of a full life. And this loss has cheated me out of not only my future with her, but it regularly cheats me out of the joys of all the other things I once found contentment with.

Re - My Love

I'm trying to find my way back to those things, even though it's an overwhelmingly difficult daily struggle. But for her, I have to keep trying to find those things again... and some new things, whatever they may be. I have to force myself. I have to keep moving forward. My hope is now that I've completed this process of finding magical places for her in the world, I'll eventually feel like that's possible again to find some magic of my own. As I write about it now with tears filling my eyes, it seems like such a tall order for somebody who still feels so empty.

Take your greatest personal failure and multiply its impact on your life tenfold — only then can you perhaps comprehend a fraction of the utter devastation caused by losing somebody whom you loved more than anything to suicide. One of the cruelest things about losing a loved one to suicide is it makes those who are left behind feel like they weren't good enough. I constantly revisit the past and tell myself, "You were the wrong person for her. If you were the right person for Re, she'd still be alive." And while others will try to reassure you that you were the right person and the sole reason why they survived for as long as they did, it's a horrendous thing to live with. Those doubts never leave your mind due to the unknowable way things could have possibly played out.

Grief can be so fucking debilitating. One minute I can be feeling positive about progress I've made, and the next I'm in a tearful haze struggling to even see clearly. Sometimes I catch myself suddenly exhaling so heavily it's as if I had been holding my breath for too long without even realizing it. I just want things to make sense. I just want the old me to return. He was fun. He loved making people laugh and smile. I've seen glimpses of him here and there, but I know he can never come back completely to the way he was. And it's because Re was such a big part of the way I was. I accept that I can't be the same person I was, but it still feels like I'm starting my entire life over from scratch. I know you can't plan for every bump in the road, but jesus... I didn't hit a bump... I went off a cliff with a climb back up that has felt impossibly grueling. And even when I'm back on the road again, the passenger seat remains empty. What a long, lonely drive it can feel like.

In the wake of her tremendous absence, I often find myself a world-weary man exhausted from all the longing and tears, while a palpable malaise of indifference towards my own existence frequently washes over me despite my continuing efforts to unearth some new purpose. Trust me... all the well-intentioned platitudes in the world can't provide me with the relief I seek. I'm trying. I just want to find some semblance of my old self... and a shred of peace. But as much as I appreciate all the encouragement I've received from everybody, I know any chance of that ever happening falls upon my shoulders and nobody else's.

Like I said... tall order.

Melancholy, by Albert Gyorgy

In all the reading I've done since Re passed, I learned of this "Melancholy" sculpture created by Albert György that can be viewed at Lake Geneva, Switzerland. He felt intense sadness and isolation with the loss of his wife and went on to create this beautiful piece of artwork as a way to cope. I don't think there's any visual I've connected with more profoundly since Re's passing than György's sculpture. It really says it all without having to say a single word. And looking back on it all, I think writing these lengthy entries has been a way for me to cope — I'm no sculptor, but I can write. With any luck, everything I've written has resonated with some of you as well. That said, I sure hope I can find some new ways to cope as I continue moving forward, because I still feel like my entire world has collapsed in on itself.

In one of our discussions, my father told me, "The things we take for granted daily are just dreams to others." I couldn't agree more, because all I do now is dream of the simple day-to-day things I'd love to be doing with Re even just once more. I'd give away the rest of my days in this world for a single embrace with her. No question about it.

Re had so many wonderful little idiosyncracies that I miss so much. Just today I was smiling as I remembered how she would often remove random letters from words — like "tupid" instead of "stupid" — or how she modified words, like saying "cheeb" instead of "cheese". I always think about how she'd randomly break into some improvised dance, always with a big smile and always cracking me up. I always smiled when she reminisced about being a master at double dutch jump rope. I loved her excitement about new scientific discoveries and space exploration. It was always so wonderful to walk into a room and see her painting with her headphones on, knowing she was in a completely different headspace, creating something that would undoubtedly be beautiful. And her laugh... my god... that intoxicating, infectious laugh and smile that made me feel so damn good whenever I drew it out of her.

I'm sure these seem like such small things to you, by my god did I adore the hell out of those eccentricities. That's the good stuff. And those are just a mere fraction of the tiny components that made up my favorite person in the world. It was such a privilege to know all of her lovable little quirks and secrets.

It often feels as though I've lost myself to a life of solitude — a space of constant self-reflection and dreaming of a past where I didn't lose her. During my research for potential places in New Zealand to take Re to, I found a proverb from the Māori people that hit me like a ton of bricks: "Kia whakatōmuri te haere whakamua." This translates to: "I walk backwards into the future with my eyes fixed on my past."

Goddamn... does that about sum it up or what?

I feel like I've been in a daze ever since completing my odyssey for Re. I've spent the past five years wanting to do nothing more than take her to those next destinations. It became my purpose in life. Now that it has concluded, I find myself at a confusing crossroads, unsure of where I'm supposed to turn next. I know it's not what Re would've wanted, but I couldn't allow myself to even begin attempting to move forward until I had completed this journey for her... I just never imagined it would take five years. But now I have to somehow try moving forward, though I feel like a vessel lost without a sail or rudder.

I've been worried for quite a while about what I'm supposed to do with my life after I finish spreading Re's ashes. Spreading her ashes has been the main thing propeling me forward through these dark times. I was frequently thinking, "After I'm finished, what purpose do I have left?" Back in August last year, my sister suggested that perhaps my purpose is to simply keep moving forward so other people who are struggling with loss and/or depression can see that it's still possible even after the horrors I've experienced. If that is indeed my purpose being in this world moving forward, I think I'm okay with that. She still believes I have more fun things to do and share as well, and I certainly hope that proves to be true. I'm trying. I really, really am.

There's a significant difference between living and existing — I've only been doing the latter in the five years since Re passed. The halcyon days of my life are forever behind me, but I still have these remnants of a life ahead of me to live... and I intend to do just that for her. And while there's a lot of pain in everything you've read in my writing, I do recognize the progress I've made these past five years even though it can feel so insignificant at times since she's gone. I've no idea where the road is going to take me from here or what tribulations are still to come. Yes, Re said to make her proud, but another thing she asked of me in her note was to try to live the best life I can and find happiness. I don't know if finding it is possible, and if it is, it certainly can't be the kind of happiness I knew during our years together, but I have to try. It was one of her final wishes. I have to try.

I have some important things to ask of you before I close out this entry. Please don't let Re's death define her — allow her life to. Her creativity. Her talent. Her humor. Her kindness. Her inherent desire to help others. Her courage. Her love. These are the things that defined Re, not the awful disease of depression that constantly tried to subdue all those wonderful components of who she truly was.

Furthermore, I don't want Re's death to define me either — I want her life to. I'm so immensely grateful to have been a part of her life and for her to have been a part of mine. It was one life lived together. Despite all this sorrow in the aftermath, our life together forever changed me for the better, and there's nothing I'm prouder of than being the one she chose as her person. Being her husband will forever be the honor of my life.

I want to reiterate: It's been a privilege to be able to take Re to all these places around the world over the past five years. While I absolutely wish the travels were under other circumstances, I still recognize it's not something everybody is able to do even for a vacation, let alone as part of the grieving process to honor a loved one. So, I am truly thankful I was able to go on those adventures and to see how the world revealed so many gorgeous places for her along the way.

All these trips I've taken to spread her ashes remind me of the trips we took together. When we were traveling abroad, it was as if all of the worries of her life subsided as the adventures provided constant distractions from all her sorrow. The world fascinated Re. And believe me, she wanted to see every single nook & cranny it had to offer. All those travels enriched our lives and our love. I'll continue to swim in those blissful memories in the darkest of times to help let the light in again. The greatest times and adventures of my life... all because of her. Please know that I'm here to stay and I will continue moving forward in life to make her proud.

It's also been a privilege to share Re's story with all of you. Since I began writing these entries, I've had many people bravely come forward and share their personal struggles with loss, depression, and suicidal thoughts with me. Hearing how my writing about Re's life and struggles has helped them so much means the world to me, and I hope this latest entry has done the same for some of you. That said, it's always bittersweet as well. I'm so incredibly thankful that Re's story has helped (and will hopefully continue to help) save lives; I just wish somebody else's story could've saved hers. She deserves to be here with us. So let's all do what we can to keep those joyful memories of her around for many, many years to come.

Here's one last look at Re in one of her countless adorable acts of spontanaitey:

That was our wonderful Re. Wherever she is, I hope she's still dancing with that beautiful smile on her face.

Thanks again to my family and friends for all their unwavering love and support. I'll never be able to put into words just how grateful I am to all of you who've stuck with me, encouraged me, and continued to read these lengthy entries over the past five years. It means more than I can possibly convey, and I hope you'll all please forgive me for the times I've been (and continue to be) morose or filled with despair. I just think it's important to be honest about how I've been feeling this entire time without sugarcoating it. Saying you're fine when you're not helps nobody. I'm trying my best and will continue to do so. I genuinely want to allow myself the possibility of happiness. I truly do. Whenever I have news to share, I'll try to keep you all posted on any plans & fun projects I have moving forward, including the books I've been writing and the video games I've been working on. Of course, you can still check my Twitter account for random updates in the meantime.

And as with all my previous entries here, it means a lot to me when you all share your thoughts on what I've written in the comments section below, so please do so if you'd like to chime in. I read them all and can't thank you enough for your attention and love. It's so nice to know some of you are still here with me after all this time.

Before I go, I have one final important thing to ask of those of you who've been so kind to read all of this. In addition to sharing this story with anybody struggling with loss, depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues whom you believe may benefit from reading what I've had to say, I have this one last thing I need you to do with your life.

It's something that means the world to me.

And it's something I ask on behalf of Re:


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