I had dated Shevannah for only a couple weeks or less, and our feelings were already extremely strong for each other. It was only natural that I would make a playlist in her honor. I knew that she would appreciate it if I put some really stupid love ballads on there along with all the awesome tunes by Jeff Buckley, Al Green, and The Smiths, etc. After completing her eponymous playlist, I picked her up for a comedy show. This would end up being an epic evening in so many ways. One of the best nights of my life so far.
On the way to the show, she got a little preview of the playlist. Mostly awesome stuff alongside a little bit of Survivor and Damn Yankees, among other ridiculously beautiful garbage. I felt some giddiness brewing.
The comedy show was phenomenal. I lost a comedy contest, but even though I was only on stage for three minutes, the positive feedback was overwhelming. A famous comic who happened to be there even approached me, and was shocked that I didn’t advance, but I was already over it, because honestly, I felt enormously lucky before I even stepped foot onstage. The woman that I was falling madly in love with was by my side, proudly wearing my overshirt, as the air conditioning chilled her bones. I was on top of the world. And I knew that our relationship would soon be advancing bases.
It was still too early to go back to my place, (there are two types of comics in the world: those who are living the dream, and those who live with their parents, and at that time, I was living with my parents) so I went to a parking lot where we could sit and talk while listening to music and where I could smoke a cigarette or three, while taking the whole evening in. Minutes later, we were making out like high school kids. I swear I could see heart bubbles floating all around us.
Cut to about 9 minutes into an apocalyptic lip battle, and Phil Collins’ “One More Night” comes on. We are in the middle of kissing, and all of a sudden we can’t contain ourselves and start busting out laughing. We giggled like teenagers at camp for about 30 seconds, before returning to the part that a younger Fred Savage would have begged his grandfather to skip.
By the time she went back home the next afternoon, I knew that I would love Shevannah forever. But it was that one unadulterated laugh in the middle of a Phil Collins song that made me realize for the first time that she cared for me deeply. It was an incredible evening. And the genesis (sorry) of an epic pairing. I wish I had more nights with her, but I’m truly lucky that I got even one. The fact that I got more than that was just another stroke of inexplicable luck.
Three years goes by just like that.
Three years is a pretty long time.
Three years is a blink of an eye.
Three years is an eternity.
Three years ago, nearly to the day, I received a phone call I was dreading. I knew something was wrong. I hadn’t heard from her in more than 24 hours, and for her, that was highly unusual. Not hearing from her for even 8 hours would have been relatively shocking, so you can imagine what kind of head space I was in.
Then it came.
In the blink of an eye, all the flawless, blissful magic I had been a part of over the last few months was over. The love of my life was dead, and I was empty. I didn’t cry. I think I shook a little, and had a bit of an out of body experience, but more than anything else, I was just blank. I definitely felt a lot, but I couldn’t put any of it into any words. My head was spinning, and I didn’t know what the fuck to do, say, or feel about it. I was obviously crushed. My soul was being tenderized. The vast majority of my life since the moment I fell for her, was spent by her side, and in an instant, I knew I would never be by her side again. There really is no way to process that kind of information. You just kind of hear it, and then you feel what you feel, and emote how you emote, or you go completely blank, and then once you figure out how to physically move again, you try to go on with your life, even though you know that you don’t really want to leave your bed, because sleeping and despair are the only two things that make any sense in that time, and even though you know your life will never be the same again. When someone is your life, and then they stop living theirs, life doesn’t feel like life again for a long time. Saying that you are numb is an understatement. You kind of just feel like you’re underwater, or dreaming, or dreaming underwater. Slowly, but surely, you get your legs back, but three years later, I’m still not the same.
The good news about tragedy, is it gives you superhuman perspective. At first you don’t feel or hear anything, then when you start breathing again, everything is suddenly amplified, and magnified to the nth degree. You tend to pay attention to the world a lot more, when you’re trying to figure out how to walk again. The beauty that someone has left behind is that much more visible when you see how ugly other people are to each other, and that’s the kind of perspective that some people sadly only get after going through something horrible in their personal life. Not to say that I didn’t already know how wonderful Shevannah was. That kind of thing is unmistakable. But you appreciate it even more when you see how few other people get to experience it. It’s an indescribable feeling to have loved someone so amazing, that every time you think of your time together, you can’t help but smile, even though you miss them so much that at times, it’s hard to breathe. But I guess that’s why people like her were invented. To make us feel like we’ve never truly felt before. What a spectacularly complex thing it is to have to hurt so much to love so much. I’m still searching for my next inspiration, but a muse that essential is extremely hard to find in a new model.
The good news about losing the person in your life who meant the most to you, is…well, there’s not much good news, but it does get better. And you will meet other people who tickle your fancy. I have even loved again since she has passed, but not all good things stick. Even really good things, sadly. And the superhuman perspective comes along with everything that your late love taught you, simply by being themselves. When someone loves you unconditionally, and loves you differently than anyone else ever has, and seems to understand you more than anyone ever has, it’s hard not to learn from that, be inspired by it, and use it to your advantage in the future. The only real good that comes from losing someone that close to you, is when you hold onto all that they taught you about love, and use it to love everyone you know, and meet from that point forward, that much better.
Shevannah reminded me how to love again when I met her, and she has reminded me how to love again countless times since she left this mortal coil. All I have to do is think of her, and I’m reminded that I have to be strong, and love strong, and be myself in the face of all of life’s black matter, because she had a lot of black matter in her life, and she never let that stop her from loving the shit out of me. Being good is a personal choice, but being loved by someone that good, makes not being a douchebag so much easier. Not that I ever really felt like one. I think I was a good man when she found me, and that’s probably part of why she found me, but someone like that makes you a better man just by being them. The kind of person who doesn’t expect you to change in the least, but makes you change in a thousand ways nonetheless, because you strive to be as awesome as them, and work hard on earning the love they throw your way.
One evening, as I headed home with my driving playlist on shuffle, Warren Zevon’s “Keep Me In Your Heart” comes on. I hear the lyric, “If I leave you, it doesn’t mean I love you any less” and I almost break down crying, because I’m picturing Shevannah saying this to me on her death day. I didn’t hear anything from her that day, but I do have some peace in knowing that her leaving wasn’t my fault. In fact, I’m sure it had absolutely nothing to do with me. She might have even stuck around as long as she did because of me. But it still hurts, it still sucks and I still feel robbed. I am healing. I am doing okay. But I will always miss her and I will keep her in my heart for more than just a while, even though I’m doing my best to move on in every way possible. As much as I selfishly wish she had said goodbye, I will never stop thanking her for reminding me what love was again. If it wasn’t for all the love she gave so freely and happily, the void wouldn’t be so sizable and it wouldn’t take so long, or be so hard to find anything or anyone even close to making it go away.
My heart is with a few people as I write this. First off, to anyone who has lost their significant other, my heart is with you. I don’t know your individual pain, but I feel a kinship with you. An unfortunate one, but a kinship nonetheless. We share a unique loss, and the fact that we all soldier on is a beautiful thing, if you ask me, and I’m proud of you. I’ve always felt a special kinship with Jim Florentine, now that I’m doing comedy. We both lost loves to suicide while we were comics. I’m happy to say that Jim has now moved on, and is happily married, but I will always feel like his brother, even though I have yet to meet him. And Patton Oswalt.
Mr. Oswalt has been a hero of mine for about 20 years. I felt a strange kinship to him long before I even met the love of my life, and now that he has recently lost his, I can’t help but feel that even stranger, unfortunate kinship to him. My heart ached for him when I heard the news. I wasn’t thinking about my loss. I was just so sad for his. But now that my anniversary of an awful event has sneaked up on me again, I can’t help but feel for him on a more personal level. He didn’t lose her in the exact way that Florentine and I did, but that is insignificant. We are three comedians who have brought joy to people, and have had some of ours taken from us. And we all continue to fight. And we learn to laugh again, as well as make others laugh, because that’s really all we can fucking do, and it’s also part of what our lost loves loved so much about us. To stop the laughter would be an insult to their memory. My heart is with you, Patton. And with you, Jim. And with anyone else out there who has been through this. It doesn’t matter if it just happened, or if you love someone else now. That person will be by our side forever, and as we are now all a part of this accidental brotherhood, we will be by each other’s sides forever, too. It always helps knowing you’re not the only one with a hole in your heart.
Flashing back to our first date: We hung out after a comedy show and just talked, and listened to music. Mostly Joy Division and the Smiths, because sometimes it’s fun to be miserable together, too. She was being kind of odd and confrontational at first, because she was nervous and trying to figure me out. I’m sure I was being weird, too, for the same reasons. But when I dropped her off at home, we hugged and it was honestly the best hug I’d ever received. She wouldn’t let go and I didn’t want her to. I believe that she started falling in love for me at that very moment and I have no doubt she loved me very much, even though she wasn’t much of a word person. I guess that’s why it hurts. It only hurts so much, because we loved each other so much. But life goes on and I just hope she’s not hurting anymore. And while I never want to forget her, and I know I never will, and her love will always live inside of me, I have to move on and I know that I will probably find another. I’m just happy that the memories are still with me. Sometimes they break my heart, but they also remind me that I am capable of having everything I need and that I will more than likely find it again.
And so will you.
It sucks at first, but trust me, it does get better, and eventually, you will even feel kind of like a real human being again!
It’s a pretty long time.