04 August 2010

Life or Something Like It - One Year Later

I've waited for today to land with more than just a modicom of trepidation and apprehension. After all, one year ago today -- nay, almost to the hour -- my life was unexpectedly turned upside down, the fallout from which I am still plundering through today.

See, today is the one year anniversary (one year? how can that be?) of the loss of my mentor, my teacher, and my dear friend. Blake died one year ago today.


It was a day much like today, that Tuesday of last year. A gorgeous August day, the sun flying high.

Jose and I started the day at Farmer's Market, sipping cups at Starbucks, and planning the launch of the Save the Cat! newsletter. Focus on Austin Cats - people like Al and Melody. Non profit focus on Austin Film Festival and some talk about our Outreach work there. Interview with the Duplass brothers? Perhaps, I've interviewed them before...

We left the meeting in high spirits and I jumped into my car to head over to Westwood to meet Deb Eckerling at CPK.

On the way, I pulled over to answer my phone. Great news! I had been accepted into a mentoring program... that Blake had recommended me to. The head of the program introduced herself, and asked a few questions about who I wanted to work with. Sweet! I'll call Blake and tell him.... then glanced at the clock. Running late. Better not - Deb and I had to reschedule this meetup a couple of times. I'll call him after the meeting... can't wait to hear what he says. 

I walk into CPK in Westwood, and there is Deb, fresh and pretty as always. We have a great lunch... and we plan ways that Save the Cat! and Write On! can work together. It's a relaxed, cheery time. We wrap it up, step outside and hug goodbye on the street. Deb heads one way, and I walk the other... towards my car, parked a block off of Westwood Blvd.


I pull out my phone. Odd. In the last ten minutes, I've had seven calls - all from BJ. Several texts as well - the most recent: "Call me".

My thumb's poised over the dial button - but my phone rings. "Annie? It's BJ. I'm at Cedars, and..."

Everything goes quiet. I listen to what BJ says, then, I ask him to repeat it. Then again. Again. And again. Perhaps if he says it enough, it won't be true... I make BJ tell me seven times that Blake is dead. Seven times. I make him repeat it over and over... and he does, his voiced choked with pain.

Poor BJ. It's killing him, this repetition of tragedy... and yet, I make him do it again, again and again. It is as if that, instead of the words making it real, maybe this time, they'll make it all go away.

But, no. That does not happen. Reality rushes in. I see my friend, in my mind's eye. Lying alone.

Everything swims. I stumble; I drop my phone. A panhandler retrieves it and asks me if I am okay. I stare at him numbly and say "I have to go home."

I begin to walk to my car... then jog... only, I can't find it. Anywhere. Nothing looks familiar. I can't remember where I parked.

Panicked, I tear up and down the side streets until I find my lot. As I crawl into my car, my phone rings. Jose. Like me, numb. In disbelief. In shock... heart breaking like fine glass... all I can do is mumble "I know. I know. I know."

Home. My husband's left work to be with me. I say little; instead, I head straight for the computer, call BJ, and we begin the unfathomable task of sharing the news. After a few calls, we realize that it is just too much for any of us, and we put a notice on the website. Facebook. We use Twitter - yes, we tweet out Blake's death. My phone rings nonstop "Hello? Yes. Yes. I'm so sorry. I know...." coupled with notes that begin "I'm so sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but...". We do it. We are STC champs. We are strong; we spend days/weeks/months listening to the grief of others. We hug people; we hold their hands. Perhaps it is the necessity of this work being done, the day to day "must dos" of the endless minutia surrounding death, that gets us through. I don't know how I am getting up everyday - and yet, I do.

I find myself going through Kubler-Ross' legal team of Anger, Denial, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance at lightning speed. Once one stage dies down, another surfaces. And another. And another. It's endless. That's what they don't tell you - the stages never end. They just repeat themselves again and again ad nauseam; it's like you are riding an emotional version of the carousel at Mr. Dark's Traveling Carnival. It moves forward and back in time, distorting all in its path. It just spins - endlessly, the mad calliope music playing in the background...

...but it helps. There's a weekend workshop scheduled, and then the week following, I was joining Blake for his seminar in NYC. Instead, I spend the Friday that we were leaving in an old church in Santa Barbara, still too stunned to say goodbye. Saturday, I fly to NYC. Alone. My family has flown out there to meet me, and, instead of going to dinner with Blake, we see "Avenue Q". I smile in the right places. I eagerly dive into my meal at Eleven Madison Park, but honestly, there's little flavor to anything. Blake would have loved this place...

Back to L.A. Now, a memorial to plan, and Save the Cat! to move forward... 


One Year Later.

It's yesterday. And it's ten years ago.

I'm stronger. I don't cry every day. I find pleasure in life. I laugh at funny movies. I see friends.

It's yesterday. And it's ten years ago.

I work. Blake introduced me to my writing/producing partner. I'm indebted to Blake, as always, for our partnership is one of ease and endless creativity. I'm so grateful.

And yet, within my heart, resides a huge hole.

I still haven't deleted Blake's phone number from my phone, nor his texts. I've spent the last day combing through the thousands of emails. I still hear his voice. I can see him in Austin, chowing down on an incredible offering of bison tartar. One of the most fun evenings of my life. Hanging out in Palm Springs after a trade show, sharing guac and *fixing* a movie we've both seen. I hear him on the phone. I miss the afternoon hour long calls... listening to Blake tell me what's next, always ready to jump on a new ride...

...and I'm talking myself into the ride not being over. Not yet. 

I miss you, friend. It's yesterday. And it's ten years ago.

Love, always.


Alvaro said...

A beautiful remembrance, sweet Anne. I miss him, too. "Believe in yourself and never give up." - Blake

princess scribe said...

I know you miss him, honey. I'm so grateful that he introduced us!

Maureen Brady Johnson said...

Your writing is so precise in capturing the moment of ...and now my life will never be the same..."
hug to you in hopes I can deliver it in person someday.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your friendship this past year and always.

Its beautiful how much he's missed and still adored.


princess scribe said...

Maureen, me too.

Melody, xox.