A gift! The most beautiful demo.
And another.The beginning is a big treat.
In January, we waited for more cancer to grow on Clark’s lung so that we could harvest it to make the treatment that was supposed to save him. He played a show at Rock and Roll Hotel on January 10. On February 20, he was admitted to the hospital for an emergency surgery in which they pulled a baseball-sized tumor out of his gut. I had to stuff his belly wound with packing gauze for weeks following the operation. Friday. March 27, was my birthday party at Pharmacy. It was the last time Clark ever went out to a bar. He hobbled the entire way there; the pain was just beginning to slow down his walking. In April, he had crutches, and we discovered the cancer was everywhere. We went before a panel of doctors at NIH and begged them to treat him even though doing so would put his life at risk. At this point, he could no longer walk. They decided to send him to get last-resort chemo in late April/early May. He was on his off-week for chemo the week of May 8 – 15. During that week, his belly swelled to extremes, and Jon carried him down the steps out of our apartment for the last time. On May 17, we found out the chemo wasn’t working, and we told him on the 18th. From May 18 to June 16, he knew he was without a doubt going to die and that the fight was over. On June 15, he closed his eyes for the last time. I wedged myself between him and the metal bars of the hospice bed that night, watched an episode of “Sex and the City” and eventually fell asleep with the help of one of his prescription Ativan. During his last lucid conversation, though, all he wanted was for me to promise him that the second Statehood record would see a release.
On March 19, Clark told both Jon and Spencer that he was going to propose to me. I only found out about that after he died. One day during his final week, I was rubbing his legs at the foot of his bed, and the sun fell through the pulled blinds, lighting my profile. He started to cry. “You’re so beautiful, you look like an angel,” he said. “And I can’t believe I have to leave you. I’m going to miss you so much.”
In fact, yoga lady said, “That is a fine-lookin’ wheel.”
and told stories and drank wine and ate homemade pasta and cookies and that’s the way it should be. there was even a bottle of tequila to pass around. he woulda been proud.
I have an editing test to do for a job today, and stuffed mushrooms and cookies to make, and that’s good, because I woke up this morning and felt like someone had taken the fact that it’s Clark’s birthday, which feels like it weighs a million pounds, and beat me over the face with it.
Comforts: I went through my old CD book from college. In it: Badly Drawn Boy, Electric Soft Parade, Elliott Smith live shows, Pernice Brothers, Teenage Fanclub (also tons of Counting Crows and what Jessica and Sarah agreed is the biggest offense: John Mayer’s first record). The fact that this editing test is hard and I really have to concentrate. Lots of coffee in my brand new Baby Joey mug.
This Sunday would have been (is?) Clark’s 34th birthday. Two years ago, I wanted to do something really special for him. I wasn’t very close with the boys yet, but I sent them an email at the beginning of the month asking if they’d be in town for some sort of celebration involving meat, not knowing that every single one of them is a vegetarian (a fact of which I’m now very aware). I somehow charmed each band member into coming AND into bringing their girlfriends. I ended up getting drunk and spoiling the surprise for Clark a few days beforehand, and then BCC’ed him on an email reminder to the fellas, to which he REPLIED ALL “so stoked.” So the secret was out that I can’t keep a secret.
We all got dressed up and ate mussels and steak and drank Stella and at the end, Clark told me it was the best birthday he’d ever had. He couldn’t believe that I pulled something like that together, and that everybody came! It’s so odd to me that Clark couldn’t understand why people would want to celebrate him.
Then last year, we were so hungover from the Blade Christmas party that we did absolutely NOTHING for his birthday, but at that point, he preferred it that way. We were post-IL2 hell at that point, and his whole body was wiped. A night of drinking with the gays put him out of commission for a few days. Here we are at Town on December 19, 2008, where we drank our weight in (free) gin and won porn in a raffle. Clark attempted to have a substantive conversation with a drag queen in an effort to “fit in.” I walked over to their interaction just in time to hear him ask her what she was doing for the holidays. She looked confused. His effort was so adorable.
So, how is this weekend supposed to be? How am I supposed to be this weekend? Last night I went to Cafe Japone for karaoke with my ladyfriends and drained three bottles of wine before singing Justin Timberlake, duetting with Jessie for a song from “Rent” (I know.), and belting out a Taylor Swift, for Clark. He loved her, even on his deathbed, and asked me to play him this video on the computer about three weeks before he died. I never thought hearing a Taylor Swift song would inspire such an emotional reaction in me, but shit. I’m not even going to try to see what happens if I listen to that song. Luckily, they had other selections, so I sang this.
Tonight we’re snowed in, but I’m considering a trip to the grocery store to get a head start on the things I’m making for tomorrow night’s dinner. All of us are getting together to have a birthday party. The thought of making a cake gets me too choked up, so I think I will make these cookies instead.
I just woke up from the second dream I’ve had about Clark. I don’t know why I’ve only had two. In the first one, he was sick, we were in an unfamiliar hospital setting and I was wrangling doctors. I woke up sobbing and distinctly shaken. The dreams could possibly be the worst part of this entire process because in them I can touch him and he responds, and when I wake up, it takes at least a second or two to fully recognize what reality is like. That initial one followed me for at least a few days.
In the dream from last night, he was healthy - he had come back from the dead mobile and free of disease. I was making arrangements with cancer doctors, thinking, in my dream-brain, that if he managed to cheat death once, we had better be on top of whatever could be lingering inside him. He was typing on the computer, asking me if he could have the car to go to band practice. I told him he could only have it if he picked me up at the Black Cat afterward, and I asked him if he remembered how to get there. I kept trying to talk to him about how I was going to call the doctors to make sure that him being alive wasn’t a fluke, and he kept shrugging it off. In the dream I thought in my head that I have to remind him that people think he’s dead, so he’d have to be cautious in public places, but I didn’t say it out loud to him because, I reasoned, that made it more likely he’d get sick and die again. And then I woke up not sobbing, but full of these creeping tears that silently won’t stop coming.
Mostly I wonder what about yesterday, and the day I had the first dream, made them happen. I think about Clark constantly, nearly every second of every day, and he’s the last thing flickering in my head as I drop off to sleep at night. You’d think I’d see him in slumber every day, but I don’t. So what was it about yesterday?
I did it. I looked at the back entries in the Google Calendar. So much Andalusians practice in 2007. And driving my friend to Dulles today reminded me of the time I drove Clark’s passport to Dulles in October two years ago, when he was supposed to go to Paris to visit his sister with his mom and missed the flight. And I wasn’t sad because I had never wanted him to leave our little world in the first place. We went and ate Thai food in Fairfax and went to the Galaxy Hut and didn’t go to the Cat for an entire week because he had told everyone there he was going to Paris on vacation! During that week they didn’t even have Statehood practice, he was so embarrassed. So we had a vacation in the city.
Statehood played at the Black Cat the night before Thanksgiving and I was so excited. I sent an email out to all my friends. That may have been the best night of my life — Clark was never good at remembering lyrics so we came up with little tricks that I would perform in the audience so the next phrase would click. I held my hands up for “pick up this banner lead this false parade.” He could never remember that line.
Clark went to see “The Golden Compass” in theaters with me on opening night. He started working at the Black Cat again. All of these things are recorded on the Google Calender! And all by him. Seeing these events there, set in Internet stone, brings a big wave of flashbacks.