...nothing here is promised, not one day... Lin-Manuel Miranda

Beyond heartfelt thanks
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I've struggled for weeks about how to say this because every time I start it sounds like the biggest "look at me look at me", Two things that Facebook has taught me are the expressions "humblebrag" and "self-aggrandizement". Cringe. But here goes.

Things are easier. I can't say "better" because right now,that has little meaning to me. Things have been hard and bad and bleak for quite a while now, as I've been dealing with my body screwing me over rather badly and with the major loss of the love of my life. "Better" to me means heading to "good" and I so do not trust that right now. I still can't see much of a meaningful future.

I still am lost. I'm dealing with frustration over my inability to do things which forces me to rely on other people. I was much better at being strong than whatever it is I am now. I still stop breathing at times for the pain that I feel when I want to tell Stu something. I still hear him in the other room, even though he was never in that specific room. I still want to be with him,talk with him, show him stuff, feel him. That will never stop,not ever. It will let up, come back, waft in and out. I will never stop missing Stu Shiffman, appreciating all he was to me. I will never stop saying "damn I was lucky" and I will never stop wondering how it happened.

When there is that big a hole in you, nothing good will fill it. I've said to myself "damn, it's a good thing I'm not a drinker" (hey but last week? I had two beers in three days. Whoo hooo!! Go UConn Huskies!) No one thing can fill it. Some of the things that fill the empty are memories and reminders and they hurt all on their own. Other things that fill that big hole, though, is caring and kindness, being reminded that you aren't alone in the bleak at-least-for-now universe.

My birthday was last month. No big deal really it wasn't. I had nothing planned because I didn't. I'm so not into celebrating and not into really doing something "special". And that was really okay. I had half-and half, and a charged laptop and some books. But, something happened.

Over the day or days before and after that birthday, upwards of 250 people on Facebook wished me a happy birthday. Now you and I can both argue that that is no big fucking deal because it requires pushing a button. Big whoop. But you are not required to do that. We can both argue that Facebook friends may or may not mean what real friendship means. I'm 63 and of a generation that knows friends as people you meet and connect with at school, at work, at the bookstore, the bowling alley,the farmer's market, the PTA meeting, church, the espresso stand, the folk concert(s), the volunteer gigs, the kids' play groups, 12-step meetings, picket lines, basketball games.

That's not how it is any more. Mostly, for us 63 year olds it still is, I think, but social media, and for me FB, has led to fabulous friendships. Friends I've never met, friends I've met again for the first time in 10,20,30 years. Friends of friends who become as close as anyone you've known. Yes, I know a lot of people, a helluva lot of people. Anyone who's worked in grassroots politics knows a lot of people. Anyone who's attended or worked on or ohgods run a genre convention knows a lot of people. Especially if you've run program for that convention.

Knowing a lot of people does not necessarily add up to anything. It means you know alot of people. You can know a lot of people who don't really like you. You can know a lot of people you're not really keen on. But, something is going on when over 250 wish you a good day. Something amazing to me. Something terrific and wonderful and kind.

Over the past several years, especially since 2012, when Stu had a stroke, I have felt supported, cared for, liked and loved. From the first night when people gathered, to the gathering at Sasquan, I was supported, cared for, like and loved. More recently it's gotten more private. Of course it has. It is so damn hard being around, staying in touch. There is no one I know as a friend who has not experienced loss, pain, illness, financial set-backs. panic attacks, serious serious shit in the last few years.

I've been aware, mostly, since that horrid night in 2012, that many of my support net were there for me. Many were there for us. Many were there for Stu. I guess what I'm fumbling and stumbling to say is that I didn't get it really well. How you're still there. How you're still going to be there. That your lives are - thank the gods - going on, with joy and healing and good news. But somehow, I don't think I got how much you are still there for me.

And it doesn't matter if you're my friend on Facebook or email or you and I met once when you were on your TAFF trip or you are the friend of a friend. It does not matter if we've ever touched, or hugged, or had a drink together. Some of us have shared everything. Holidays, food, sex, giggles, highs and lows, fear and loathing and fireworks-level success and happiness. Some of you check in occasionally. Or not at all. It doesn't matter. Some of you last saw me in 1970.

What matters and what I need you to know is that because of you, I am going on. Because of you, I can imagine finding peace, and maybe comfort. Get ready to cringe because here comes the gooey song lyric part of my post:

"Serenity's a long time coming to me,
in fact, I don't believe that I know what it means anymore."

(Sorry, but it's John Denver and it's a line I've always loved and found meaningful.)

I doubt I'll find serenity,but I'm a lot closer to finding what I quote at the top of this blog. I'm closer to believing in happiness. Certainly to believing in equilibrium. And I got there because of you.

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