Dry-Eyed & Broken-Hearted

Hey Darling Ones,

My mom came over Thursday for our traditional holiday kickoff. This is where we eat Chinese food from the Dragon and then spend the rest of the night shopping online where she points at the screen and I click add to cart.

During dinner she told me how one of her Windmill customers had died either that day or earlier in the week.

My mom is at that Grim Reaper age where every time you see her she’s telling you about another person she knows who died.

To be frank, I’m beginning to feel that way myself. Every time I take to the pixels of iwilldare.com I’m either whining about my grief or telling you about another death of someone I knew and cared about.

You can guess what comes next.

Last night we found out Sister #2’s high school friend, Betty, died.

Along with Jill, Sister #2 and Betty were a triumvirate of weirdo high school grunge kids in early 90s Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. The three were big Pearl Jam fans from the very beginning. Jill was even pen pals with Jeff Ament (I believe).

Jill was in a car accident on Christmas Eve 1991, driving home from dropping off some gifts at Betty’s house. She died on New Year’s Eve.

Every weekend that year Betty would come to our house and we’d watch movies rented from the local video store. Or rather my sisters and Betty would. I would curl up in the corner of the L-shaped couch reading John Irving novels. And occasionally John Updike novels* because I got the two mixed up sometimes. Every Updike novel I’ve read was by accident.

Betty took to calling it “Julia Roberts Friday,” I think. At least in my memory she did. But how many movies did Julia Roberts have on VHS in the winter of 1992? It couldn’t have been a lot. But in my most distinct memory of her she’s pulling a video tape out of her coat and proclaiming it another Julia Roberts Friday.

In the spring of 1992, when their tour hit First Ave, Pearl Jam invited Sister #2 and Betty to the concert, meeting up with them before the show. I will always and forever love Pearl Jam for the kindness they showed two grieving, broken-heart teenage fans.

In the fall of 1992, when Sister #2 and I lived in a shitty Chippewa Falls apartment during her senior year of high school, Betty was a frequent visitor. She even briefly dated my brother-in-law before he started dating my sister.

If I had the emotional strength and capacity to dig out my journals from that awful 1992-1993 year I could probably share many tales of hanging out with Betty and my sister’s other friends. I had zero friends at the time and Sister #2 was a high school senior who lived in an apartment with me, a 6’3″ 20-year-old sister who never got carded for the 40s of Old E those kids loved.

Ugh. This sucks so much. My dad, Danny, and now Betty. I keep telling myself, you haven’t known Betty for nearly 30 years, why are you so upset?

But this grief on top of grief on top of grief is fucking hard to deal with.

I’ve had a headache since we got the news last night, my sinuses swelling from tears I can’t seem to shed. Or maybe I’m out of tears. I think I’d feel better if I just had a good cry, and my eyes well up, but the tears refuse to fall.

I am done. Donezo. I feel as though I’ve gone beyond grief and sadness to a whole, new scarier place of barren numbness.

I dunno, Darling Ones. Everything is a lot right now and I don’t know how to end this sentence.

Dry-eyed & broken-hearted,

P.S. I promise someday I won’t be a giant fucking bummer. And when that day comes I’m going to tell you about the Portal to Doom in my living room and that thing Ben Gibbard said on that podcast and my favorite book this year and how I bought a Radiohead record.

* When I saw John Irving speak back in aught-nine he mentioned how people always confused the Johns, Updike and Irving. When Updike died, early in 2009, Irving’s family got a few condolence cards.

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  1. Heather 03.Dec.22 at 6:48 pm

    Stop apologizing for being human and feeling loss. Your ability to keep sharing through the pain is amazing and I have so much respect for you, and that.

    Now… goddammit. I am so very sorry, again/still, for your loss. All of it is too fucking much. The getting up every fucking day and going on is… crushing. I can’t take that away or pretend it’s not truth. It just is.

    I love you. Big hugs.

    1. Jodi Chromey 04.Dec.22 at 11:33 am

      Do you find yourself searching for one goddamn thing to alleviate the yuck for just one minute? I do and I have yet to find anything. I’m so tired for being sad all the damn time.

  2. theluckynun 03.Dec.22 at 9:05 pm

    I’m so sorry. That’s a lot of losses stacked up – I’m just really sorry for you and the other people struggling through this.


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