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


UPDATE 2/6/19: If you've already read the initial story below, click here to jump to my 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:

RE WAS MY HERO.

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.

I LOVE YOU.

 

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.

Love,

-Roger


UPDATE:

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,

-Roger


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