I used to love Corn Nuts. My husband Don hated Corn Nuts and used to make fun of me all the time for eating them."What is the attraction to these things?" he would say. "Its like eating plywood."
"Yes, but it's cheese-flavored plywood!", I would retort as I crunched close to his face to purposely annoy him. "Jesus, could they be any louder? I think that's the loudest food on earth." "You're the loudest food on earth".
I realize this statement makes absolutely no sense to the normal observer, but it is something Don started doing a few years ago, for no particular reason. Anything I would say, he would come back with that; adding "you're" and then repeating the sentence back. The less sense it made, the funnier it was:
Me: "How was your turkey sandwich?" Him: "You're a turkey sandwich."
Me: "We have to call Paul soon and fill out our tax forms." Him: "You're a tax form."
But let's get back to the Corn Nuts. I have not eaten Corn Nuts since Don died. Why? Because I am terrified that I will choke on a Corn Nut. I am scared to death that I will choke while in my apartment; and be found days or weeks later; when someone finally realizes that I am missing. They will open the door and see me lying on the floor surrounded by cat poop and askew Corn Nut remnants. Then Sammy and Autumn will be taken away by mean men in lab-coats to a Kill-Shelter and when nobody adopts them, they will be immediately destroyed.
These are the things that constantly come into my head now; after losing Don. These are the kind of panic-stricken, anxiety-ridden, screwed up thoughts that come with the territory of losing someone to sudden and unexpected death. Because once that happens, you now know that it COULD happen again. To anyone. Anytime. Anywhere. And you can never, ever be prepared. Never.
What if I slip and fall in the shower and die? What if I get mesothelioma? I don't even know what that IS, but apparently enough people have it that there are endless lawyers on TV who specialize in it, so of course, I panic about it. What if Im walking in NYC, and an air-conditioner comes loose from someone's apartment above me, and falls 27 stories, landing on my head? These are the things I come up with while just trying to exist peacefully in my daily life.
What if I have a heart attack, like he did? Everytime my arm or my chest or my tummy or ANYTHING in that general area feels a bit "off", I instantly assume "this is it! I'm going to die today!" What if I am standing on the kitchen chair while changing the ceiling light-bulb; and I fall and crack my head open? The cats would not only NOT call 911, but they would also eat the blood pouring out of my head like it was a fine tuna.
What if I die in my sleep, or I could slide off the road in the middle of winter after some out of the way comedy gig. I could choke on rice. Sometimes a grain of rice can get stuck. Anything can happen. There are multiple ways that I could die, out of the blue, and it would go unnoticed.
In my old life, I used to love coming up with all the different ways that I might die and sharing them with Don. It was like a game. I loved to annoy him, and he laughed like hell at my ridiculousness. We would take walks along the Hudson River on our street, and there are these areas where you look over and its a large cliff-like thing. I loved to look over the edge and say to Don: "What would happen if I just jumped off this cliff right now? Would I die?" "Yes Boo, you would die." "But what if I didn't die? What if I was just a head in a wheelchair? Would you leave me?" "No Boo. I wouldn't leave you because you were just a head. I'd leave you because you're annoying."
A few months before he died, he was on his overnight shift as a paramedic; and I was home alone. I was drinking a glass of water, and I almost choked on it. Who chokes on water? It wasn't a full choke; just went down the wrong pipe; but I was coughing and doing the eye-watering thing for ten minutes afterwards. I totally freaked out at the thought of that happening while he was at work and not here next to me. I texted him once I calmed down, and we had this dialogue below. I found it on my phone, so whats written below is the exact text exchange that happened. Sometimes I just stare at these texts from us; and I laugh and smile and cry. This conversation is exactly who we were, and I so miss my partner in banter, and my anchor in life. Everyone has rhythms in a relationship. Our rhythm was that I would panic, he would calm me down. I was emotional, he was logical. When you lose half of your rhythm, there is no balance anymore. So, in my case, there is only panic:
Me: Boo, I just almost choked on water lol.
Him: Seriously? Only you would do that.
Me: I could have died.
Him: You didn't die.
Me: But I could have.
Him: You're fine, Boo.
Me: But this is why I'm glad we are married. We both need someone there in case the other person chokes on something.
Him: LOL But I'm at work, so it doesn't matter that you're married, since I wasn't home anyway when it happened.
Me: But I can text you and tell you and you'll send help.
Him: OR ...you could use that time to call 911 and save your own life!!!!
Me: But you ARE 911, so I could save my own life by calling YOU to have YOU save my life. Its ironic, don't you think?
Him: Yeah. Like rain on your wedding day.
Me: A free ride, when you've already paid.
Him: Okay Boo. I gotta go. We have to pick up a patient. I cant sit here and quote Alanis Morrisette songs with you all night.
Me: You're an Alanis Morrisette song.
Him: LOL Try to get through the rest of your night without accidentally killing yourself.
Me: I guess that means staying away from the Corn Nuts.
Him: You're a Corn Nut.
Pictured: Corn Nuts. / My husband standing against his ambulance, at work.