Monday, September 26, 2016


Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. Where’s that sixth stage of grieving, the one I’m in right now—Dead Inside & Productive. DIP. I’m in the dip.

I’m holding it together remarkably well. My mom tells me, “Sorry that you’re really good at this, but you’re really good at this.” Shit. Why? I want to be one of those people that can’t get out of bed and it’s okay because she just lost the best thing Planet Earth had to offer. The problem with that is that it’s not me.

I know who I am. I’ve always been proud of my strong sense of self. Jim loved that about me. I loved the same thing about him. I wasn’t just his wife; I was his match. I am capable, reasonably smart, determined, and episodically indefatigable. I was this person before Jim. Eventually, even after losing him, I’ll be back to being the person he loved, only sadder. At present I’m just resentfully able with a hole inside me that somehow has physical weight. How can empty be so heavy?

I find that I sigh a lot. Great sighs. Stops between big things like opening the estate bank account and small things like making toast. Where I am feels kind of like dread. Maybe dread for the future. My long, long future without him. It makes it hard to care about stuff. Like sunscreen—why put on sunscreen if maybe my leaving it off can give me cancer, and if I get cancer I might die sooner and then I’m spending less time living without him? I don’t know what I believe about what happens when we die, but I know for certain that this life is now without my person. So I’d prefer that it’s a lot shorter than is expected for a vegetarian, teetotaling, drug-free yoga teacher.

Lots of stuff that I might have enjoyed before seems worthless. Okay, so I take apart the guest bed and get rid of all the big pieces and get a new one and assemble it myself, who cares? I used to do things like that while Jim was at work and it delighted me that he would be impressed. Now who’s going to be proud of me and say “my wife’s a badass” when I’m a capable asset and not a burden? What's the point?

There’s good and bad to posting how I’m doing where everyone can read it. The good is that people know. The bad is that people know. It’s nice for me to be able to express stuff I’m feeling in pretty extensive detail without having to tell everyone individually how things are going. But people I see while out running errands as I pretend to live normally know that I chucked a remote across the room one night. (They don’t know though that a few days later I also chucked my phone and a metal stool. Aw eff, they do now.)

There’s also the fact that my feelings change so rapidly that whatever I posted a couple days ago could be worlds away from how I’m feeling now.

I’ll say this though, the writing and the posting helps. I don’t know why. I’m sure there’s some psychobabble to explain it all, but I don’t actually care about the why. I care how I feel, and if I feel solace of some sort by making the details of my inner workings available to anyone who can read, well okay then.

I think that act even further solidifies me as Jim’s complement, the throwing it all out there. When Jim’s ex-wife was having an affair he told anyone who would listen what was going on and that he was trying to save that marriage. He had no shame about being a cuckold; he needed help and keeping quiet and being secretive about what could potentially be embarrassing wasn’t going to help him and his kids. Should my children see a therapist? Where is the best divorce attorney? Is how I’m feeling normal? If you don’t toss out information you may not stumble onto the stuff that could end up most useful.

Unless we’re close, you and I, it’s my habit to be an intensely private person. Except in writing. When it’s just me and the computer screen nothing’s off limits. But when I’m posting my feelings real-time and seeing people who have read it all, it’s like we’ve had this long, really personal conversation and I wasn’t there when it happened. It’s equal parts awkward and easy.

As I go through all that needs to be done after your husband dies—will stuff, business stuff, figuring out how to hang a bike from the garage ceiling—I try to move quickly. Sometimes I feel like I’m running from what what I know and what that’s doing to me. If I move fast then the truth won’t catch up. But then I'm standing in the grocery store staring at rows of cans of chili, not sure how I got there because I don’t eat that stuff, and the weight of my new lonely and shattering reality returns.

He’s gone. Tomorrow marks four weeks since I’ve heard from my someone.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Tuesday, August 30.

Jim kissed me goodbye at 3:45AM. I woke some but I can’t remember if he kissed my face or just my arm. I was in the middle of the bed, nestled more toward his side than my own.

Wheels up was a little after four. He'd chartered a plane to make it a day trip. On weeks where we have the kids Jim avoids overnighters. He was aiming to be back in time to get Josie from volleyball. John, the pilot who was also Dustin’s first flight instructor, flew Jim and Luke, Victory’s V.P., to Vegas where they picked up another guy before heading to their meeting in Southern California.

I skipped class that evening. I ate ice cream instead. At 6:30 I’d just mowed down my second knockoff Drumstick when Jim’s mom, Gay, called me, “Have you heard from Jim?”

“Yeah,” I told her, “He’s on the ground by now. Well, I mean I haven’t talked to him, but we texted earlier. He’ll have landed. He’s getting the kids. I expect him any minute.

“Megan, there was a small plane crash in Rock Park. I can’t get him on his phone.”

“Okay . . . Okay. I’ll Find-My-iPhone him and get back to you.”

I logged into his iCloud. All devices on his account were offline. All the iPads and iPhones, the computers. iCloud must be broken. I logged into my own account to make sure that all my devices were offline too. Nope. It located all my stuff. Refresh, refresh, refresh. All Jim’s gadgets were still offline. My calls went unanswered.

From my car seconds later I phoned Gay and told her I couldn’t get him so I would go down to that RV park. Why not? Then I called Dustin. He’s a pilot.

“I hope I’m calling you prematurely,” I said, “but I need you to try to call John.” I told him about Gay’s call, about how I couldn’t get his dad on the phone or find him. He listened to air traffic control. Nothing useful. He called me back after talking to John’s flight school. I had a hard time understanding through the new pitch in his voice. It was John’s tail number that went down. They’d seen black smoke.

I get calm right here. I think I detach.

Jim enjoyed reading aircraft accident reports. Weirdo. When he told me about the accidents, what errors pilots made or conditions that caused a crash, I always asked, “Did they live?” He’d scoff a little and tell me, “Of course not. No one ever lives in these things.

I thought of that while I drove. “‘No one ever lives in these things.’ My husband is dead. I’m driving to where my husband is dead.

Emergency people surrounding the park stopped me. Look fraught, say “my husband was in that plane,” and they let you through. I tried to read the cops’ faces. How much pity? How much did they know? I worked through the first layer of responders. Then the second. Once parked, the policemen steered me to the other side of a Suburban away from the media.

It starts to get fuzzy here. I don’t know how much time I spent sitting the back of a police car. Was it 20 minutes? An hour? Who said there were two fatalities? “But there were three people in the plane,” I told someone. Jim, the pilot, and Luke. All anyone knew was that there were two fatalities. How long before I thought to call Mike, Victory’s GM, to ask if he knew if they off-loaded Luke on their Las Vegas-stop coming back?

They did. Luke deplaned and flew back on Southwest later.

Two fatalities and only two on the plane. John. My Jim. But not really. Because he was just coming back from a meeting and he was going to pick up the kids. He was looking forward to seeing me.

The kids. At some point Katelynn called asked what was going on. Someone had told her to call. Gay sent Jim’s brother-in-law, John, and his son Rand to me. When I saw John I chucked myself at him harder than I’d ever done to anyone in my life. I can't imagine how he remained upright, but he held me.

When did I text Traci? Did I call her too? I must have. She came to the RV park.

Mike and Brandan, Victory’s COO, were suddenly there. It only occurs to me now that I don’t know how they got through the barricade. There must have still been a barricade. With them I started what would become my habit for the weeks to come, the consoling and recalling. I looked up at Mike, failed to hold it together, and told him, “I know there will be time for this—I’m sure I’ll say it again later—but Jim was so proud of you. He thought of you like a son.”

When did I call my parents? I know when I did it wasn’t twenty minutes before they were in the car on the nine-hour drive to me. I don’t think I spoke with Katelynn again. Maybe I talked to her husband Nathaniel? I know I talked to Dustin more because we discussed how to tell the little kids. What do I do about the little kids? Their dad was hours late to pick them up.

I took a call from a number I didn’t recognize. It was the kids’ mom. She’d heard rumors. I stopped her. “I’ll tell you what’s true. Your kids’ dad is dead.”

The next call was Josie. It was all the way dark by then. Her sobs triggered mine, and I remember crying with her while I sank back against Traci’s car and slid to the ground.

Rand drove my car and Traci drove me. When I got in her front seat I said, “I’m going to come off as cold as this gets started. I’m good at this. I’m good in crisis.” How did I know that? My husband has never died before. But I was right. I’m irritatingly capable with this shit.

By way of calls and text messages, we, Jim’s closest family—the wife, his kids, his sisters, his mom—we knew. The rest of his close people, his Victory Woodworks family, were next.

Like I threw myself at John the night before, when we got to Victory at six the next morning to meet with the employees I hurled myself into Luke’s arms. Luke was alive. By getting off the plane in Vegas and flying home commercial, Luke lived. I remember saying again and again, “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry you have to live with this.”

I’m so sorry we have to live with this. Here we are though. I’m grateful every day that Luke lived.

I spent a lot of today at Victory and told so many of the team, “We’re missing the most important piece, but we have all the other parts. We will make this work.” I’ll be damned if we don’t crush it, the work, the living. It’s been three weeks today. For however temporarily, I suppose it’s about time I got to this place.

Saturday, September 17, 2016


The TV remote that was already a mystery is glitchy now because I threw it across the room on Thursday night. My mom sat calm on the couch and didn't say anything. If throwing the remote is what was going to alleviate any kind of anything for her daughter, throw the remote already.

It didn’t help. I figured out nothing truly does. There are just the occasional unpredictable ups flecked through persistent ache.

I didn’t get to see him, his body. Not that I wanted to. I didn’t. But I think not having seen Jim's body leaves a gap I can’t bridge. I never saw proof beyond the two personal effects that the Medical Examiner gave me—his watch face and scarred ring. We didn’t get anything else, not his belt or his phone, his wallet, not even his damn socks.

A couple days after after he died the nicest one at the Medical Examiner’s office called me with a note of comfort—and maybe relief?—in her voice saying that they’d recovered his wedding ring.


I can’t get beyond that word. Recovered. They didn’t just slide the ring off his finger. They recovered it. He wasn’t him anymore.

The M.E.’s office called me again later—“Mr. Elliker has been scientifically identified by dental records." So we have verification, but the last time I saw him he was alive. I know I’m not supposed to think about the graphic details, everyone tells me not to, but I can’t help it. I think of the body that did such a good job loving me. They had to identify him by dental. They couldn’t just have someone do it by sight.

The pit in your stomach reading that? It’s my fixed parasite.

Just like I don’t know which scrap of life will serve as an up, I don’t know what will set me off. The other night it was seeing our dog Gus automatically settle into his bed. Around midnight I finally said we all could go to sleep. The dogs and I went upstairs and my mom tidied a little before heading to her room. She found me on my bedroom floor stuck in silent, exhausting sobs. Seeing Gus do what he always does when Jim is home was too much. Gus plops into his bed in the corner. Sophie hops into her basket. Jim gets in the shower. I take the decorative pillows off the bed, fold the big comforter in thirds, turn down Jim’s side, turn on my lamp, habit after habit now missing a part.

How horrible for a mother to sink to the floor to hold her sobbing adult daughter? But she did and cried too. My parents carried me through that dark space when my ex-husband had an affair and I got divorced. And then they lived elated when having and loving Jim made me better, healed in my heart and broader in life. And now. Now my mom is here to just be here because it’s too much by myself.

Don’t take the patterns for granted. I’m so glad I was never mad about tidying up the night’s detritus each morning. Toss Jim’s gum from the nightstand. Move his slippers. Rehang his face towel. For some things his habits dictated mine, and picking up the paper towel wads all over the kitchen when he’d been in there didn’t irritate me. A little bit of Jim here, a little there.

I tell the truth when people ask how I am holding up. Not great. I feel like I’m always hovering on the edge of of something, waiting to deal with the surprise of what I’ll feel next. I see a couple holding hands, happy, and leaning against each other and I smile. I’ve had that and it’s wonderful. I see a couple holding hands, happy, and leaning against each other and I cry. I’ve had that and it’s gone.

I have to get out of bed now. I get Ben and Josie today, and while they know that I’m basically destroyed, I need to not be a mess when they’re here. At the burial sitting in front of Jim’s casket, I was a disaster. I was crying hard and felt Ben’s hand slip around my arm to comfort me. He’s 10. Katelynn took my other hand. When it comes to feeling what Jim was, we are what we have now. What we had can't be recovered, but even if it’s only by way of being in the place their dad lived, maybe today those two get some sliver of peace.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


Today I took donuts to the Victory Woodworks people. My team. I decided we’d celebrate a not-bad day.

I don’t understand what’s happening right now. I’m not bawling every minute. Yes, I’m low. I feel sludgy. There is that weight in the center of my chest that hampers good posture, but I’m not crying. And if I’m not sobbing every second, if I go for hours without tearing up, I feel like I’m being disloyal to Jim.

I have been trying to figure out why I am feeling a little better and how I could possibly not be this constant puddle on our closet floor. I’m coming up with two things: the heap of incredible memories I have of my darling husband and, well, you people. The mass of kindness and support I’m getting from friends, Jim's stalwart kids, yogis, my family, Jim’s employees, and people I don’t even know is overwhelming and is this thing I keep in my pocket next to the evidence bag the medical examiner gave me containing my husband’s wedding ring.

Bummer, I know. The ring came back to me misshapen and scorched. Seeing its condition rips me. I hate what it implies.

I'm feeling sorry for myself. Of course I am. But I cannot deny the spots where I’m fortunate. I’ve told person after person—usually with tears brimming and a tight throat—that I don’t have a single regret from when he was alive. There isn’t anything I wish I’d told him. He knew how I felt. I knew how he felt. We loved each other hard and squeezed every drop of juice from our life together.

Today when I was talking with one of Jim’s guys at Victory he commented that there is a last time for everything. Well, shit. An unfortunate but accurate point. Our lasts together reflected all the times that came before. On our last night together I tickled his back while he fell asleep mumbling, “This is my favorite thing. I love my wife. You’re my favorite. This is my favorite time. I love my wife . . . ” over and over. The last time I saw him he woke me up to kiss me goodbye. My last text said I loved him. His last text said he was looking forward to seeing me.

I’m lucky that I have a few recordings of his voice—a couple voicemails, the talk he gave at Brandon’s memorial, a recording of him snoring. In the snoring recording I ask him to roll over and as he does he tells me, “I find you irresistible.” I literally have a recording of my sweet, late love telling me he finds me irresistible. Who gets that? It’s like the life we had together—time and again I asked, “Who gets this? How can I be so lucky? How is all this happiness mine?” Its precious source is gone, yes, but, my, the remnants are so sweet.

Don’t count on my present positivity and gratitude as a persistent thread. I’m learning that this process is made of rapid slips and slides and stops and skips. This moment is one where I can’t overlook the good.

Being less despondent makes me suspect that I’m ready to try life by myself. I’m good at alone. No, I have to qualify that: I used to be good at alone. I will be again—it’s my nature—but right now my thinking is early and overconfident. I’m not ready for what’s next, not ready to be alone. So my mom is here with me and I’ve told her, “Sorry Sue, but you live here now.” She’s the best, so she said okay, ordered some t-shirts to be delivered here because she didn’t pack enough short sleeves, and told my dad back in Utah, “Love you. See you when I see you.” He's on board.

Some nights when Jim and I would go to bed he’d lay on his back and I’d smash myself up to his right side. He’d put his arm around me, pull me as close as he could and ask, “Why are you so far away?”

“Why” isn’t my question right now. It’s more “how?” How is this true? It’s more “really?” Really he’s never coming home? We never get to make another memory? All the photos we have of him are all we’ll ever have? I’ll never again run my hand along his beard? Really, never? I can’t decide if I’m more comfortable with the incredulity or if I’d rather get to settling into certainty.

Oh. Neither.

Monday, September 12, 2016


I’m sick of being strong. I’m sick of being inspirational. Of holding it together. I’m just sad. This is shit.

I went to yoga yesterday morning. It made me realize that it's better to take class here. When I’m able to take class I want to be in my community. Yogis here are spreading the word that what I want for now is for everyone at the studio to give me a wide berth and that giving me that space is caring for me. If I go and take class where the teacher and students don’t know what I am dealing with I won’t get the earnest tenderness that I do with my people.

While I cried for about an hour of the 75-minute class, I was surprised that my body knew what to do. My balance wasn’t terrible. My bending was the same. While my mind can’t come close to making it onto my mat, my body did what it was told. I’ve told my students that the practice they build is theirs, that it will always be there for them. Turns out I wasn’t full of shit. Not all the parts are there all the time. But pieces remain.

Everyone asks what they can do for me. The only realistic answer I can come up with makes me mad. It’s this though: Go love the hell out of your people. Love them hard. Make your person feel as loved as Jim made me feel. I hate telling people that because I want it back. We were shockingly compatible. It was unreal the way he loved me. We said, “This is what everyone wishes they had. How lucky are we?” But it’s gone, and here I am—through now-predictable tears—telling everyone, whether they want to hear it or not, to go make their relationships more. A Do-it-for-Jim!-type of thing. And I am sincere. But yuck. It’s not just unfair. It’s cruel.

Evidently I have to go through a bunch of terrible stuff. And because I’m tough and because I’m strong and inspirational and all that effing garbage, I will get through it. But I don’t want to. It doesn’t matter how resilient I am or how brave, Jim isn’t the prize. The person I want to be proud of me isn’t here anymore. So what’s the point of being great?

My autonomic nervous system is as stuck as the rest of me. I forget to breathe. Lots throughout the day I have to consciously exhale.

I know many people find comfort in thinking of an afterlife and seeing their someone again. Not me. It’s not Now. Now is when I want him. Now is how he lived. I don’t care about later. I care about this minute right now. I want to curl up against him and cry. I want to smell his smell on him not just on his jacket that I wear around the house. That isn’t good enough. Even if I stumble through the worst of the grief and I’m able to actually laugh or get up from the couch or eat more than Swedish Fish and whatever salad my mom hands me when I confess that all I’ve eaten is some candy and a Drumstick, even if I can someday sit up straight in sukhasana instead of slump or stand in front of a room to teach—everything after this is incomplete.

People ache their whole lives for the bliss I enjoyed in the day-to-day with my sweet, sweet Jim. I had an honorable man who adored me and made sure I knew it and so did everyone else. I had a man who left notes on the counter telling me that my smile made him weak in the knees. Who would leave two dozen roses in my car just because he knew where I was parked. Who always did the dishes after dinner. Who loved my body so much I was almost convinced it doesn’t suck. Who made little content sighs when I would tickle his back and who would fall asleep with his head in my lap and his hand clutching my foot.

Upon linking up with Jim I became a terrible friend, daughter, and sister because he filled any void. We talked for hours and hours and would have to cut ourselves off to finally go to sleep. When an event came up and I asked if he wanted to go, his answer was always the same, “Will you be there?” I explained accompanying him on so many seemingly mundane business trips as simply, “I want to be where he is.” I still do.

There is a Jim-sized gap in my little soul. You don’t fill something like that with other things. What he was wasn’t plain. What we had wasn’t ordinary. What I lost wasn’t small. And it seems that all that’s left is waiting for the end.

Friday, September 9, 2016


During the day I'm a little machine. The list of things you have to get done when your husband dies is long and grows by the day. Stupid stuff like changing the email address on the Hulu account and canceling the weekly milk order. Important stuff like dealing with the will and getting the death certificates. And stuff that falls somewhere in between there, like canceling his ticket to Copenhagen and repairing the watch he had on when he died so Dustin can wear it.

Yes, while I'm plowing though the massive list of to-dos, time sensitive and necessary by self-imposition, I crack. I cry. My voice breaks. I stop. But I put myself back together and get back to work, hopping from task to task, owning crisis management like my mom trained me, like a champ. 

I lose my shit over things around the house and things with the kids that Jim always took care of. A torn trampoline net. A confusing remote. A creaky cabinet door. How to get the lid on the Camelback to close because Ben wants to play with it. My people step in and calm me down and fix things. But they won't always be here. I'm going to need a new map for how to navigate the stuff that Jim did that I didn't even know about because he was quiet about that stuff. Because it wasn't a big deal. Because he knew how to do everything 

There are must-dos. But I try to remember that there are also things that I don't have to do. I have to do laundry, wash my hair, feed the dogs, and take out the trash. But I don't have to answer every text and message even though I'm grateful, go to the door, leave the house, answer personal emails, and clean out the yoga clothes in my bureau like I've been meaning to do for three months. 

There are things I wish I wanted to do because I used to enjoy them, like walk Gus, turn on Netflix, listen to music in the car, drive fast, laugh. That stuff doesn't make sense anymore. My person is gone. What else is there? We walked Gus together in the evenings. We watched shows together on the weekends. We were in the car together where constant conversation eliminated the need for music to fill silence. We drove fast in the best car ever. We laughed every single day. It was all We. Now it's only I. For always really. Because try to top what we had. You can't. What we had was annoying, only-in-the-movies, must-be-made-up perfection. If my sadness is going to be proportionate to my happiness, then I'll drown trying to find its bottom. 

Nights are the worst. It starts when I get on my computer to do one thing and end up instead clicking through photos and crying. That's when the crying isn't just a catch in my throat and sudden inability to speak. That's the crying that makes my insides seize and vibrate and breathing so difficult. I want to touch his perfectly shaped head and feel his hands where they're rough on the right knuckle and feel his arms wrapping me close. I want to have to scoot back to my side of the bed in the middle of the night because his body heat is making me sweaty. 

I keep my people up way past what's polite so I don't have to go to bed. Around 2am I get the dogs and we trudge upstairs. Here comes the hard part. But instead of crying myself to sleep anymore I lean on pharmaceutical intervention and pass out, not to get rest—Ambien doesn't leave you rested—but to pass the time unconscious. 

My body needs a yoga class. It hurts and I don't think I'm in a place to direct a self practice. But I can't go to class here and I don't want to drive far. Because the yoga community in Reno is tight, basically all the yogis know that the small, flexible girl with the substantial thighs is a widow now. And because the yoga community in Reno is kind, they want to offer whatever they've got and hold me. But I just want to slip into class as discretely as I can, set up in the back, try to move my body and not to cry, and slip out without accepting condolences. Even though I am bowled over by the kindness aimed at me, and I know that there's more than I'm aware of because people have been giving me space, being a distraction from what we do in those studios—self care—is so not what I need right now

Though—thanks to my extreme and potentially detrimental independence—the odds of me asking for help from anyone are about zero, I know that all the people who offer are serious. I believe that they want to—and they would—do whatever I ask. It overwhelms me. I hold the stacks of cards and the notes off of flowers and stall, just defeated. There are so many. How do I get started thanking them all? Don't tell me I don't have to. I'm not that guy. I do have to. It's how I function. Or used to, rather, when my heart wasn't underground in the most beautiful casket ever built.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


There was no way my boy was gonna die small. A simple pass-in-his-sleep wouldn’t have been big enough for Jim. He lived huge. I see now that his death was never going to be ordinary.

As most of you know, we lost my love, my heart, the man who made me feel brilliant, beautiful, cared for, and valuable, in a plane crash last Tuesday evening. All I can seem to say to people is how sorry I am for their loss. He belonged to us—his family, his wife, his kids, his grandson—but it’s not just us who are hurting; my guy left a massive wake. His friends, his forum-mates, his Best Practice Group, his clients, and, most of all, his beloved employees at Victory have lost so profoundly too.

Here is a link to his obituary. It's the the most important tribute I've ever written and the only thing I’ve ever felt absolutely certain is beyond my skill. No words can adequately salute this man.

I am receiving message after message telling me how much Jim loved me. And I am so grateful to be able to say that I know it. One of his most charming—and, yes, irritating at times—traits was that he couldn’t keep his mouth shut. About anything. He told me. He told me every day, time and again, and in so many ways that he was so incredibly in love with me. We were happy. I am the luckiest girl to have had any of his time.

It has been my great privilege to be in his kids’ lives. He has raised some of the most responsible, thoughtful, hilarious people you’ll ever know. It is going to be my honor to do everything in my not inconsiderable power to see that these kids never stop feeling and knowing that they were Jim’s world. His heart was happiest when we were all under one roof. We’re doing that now, but without our most important piece.

He smelled better than anyone. He had perfect legs. He knew he had a perfect nose. No one thought Jim was funnier than Jim did. He loved wrapping his arms all the way around me. He knew how to love me. I loved loving him.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


I have to be careful in what I say I want to do. I need to actually want what I’m saying I want, not just talking to make noise. Because without my mentioning wherever or whatever it is again, Jim will go and make it happen, and if it wasn’t something I was actually interested in, I end up with a grand experience that I’m only marginally excited about yet he’s delighted to offer.

There are two factors at play here. First that Jim lives to make his people happy. He really is like that. My friend and I were talking the other night about how great my mom is, how she just serves and serves and gives and it seems to feed her. Jim is like that too. He’s a giver. He wants me happy. The other factor is that he’s in it for the experience. Let’s go do something new. Let’s try that. He’s always down for an adventure.

I love So You Think You Can Dance. Out of the blue he worked his connections to land us at a taping. One day I mentioned in passing that I’ve always wanted to go to Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me! A couple months later, there we were in a San Francisco amphitheater, watching Peter Sagal and Bill Kurtis live. Adding the cherry, the next morning I found myself in a wharf diner in front of a pile of the prettiest fruit I’ve ever eaten, across the table from Bill Kurtis, listening to a discourse on grass-fed beef. (My life has its Dalí moments to be sure.)

Sometimes the fun things we do come by way of me going along on his business trips. He had a meeting in Traverse City, Michigan, back in June, and since it’s not convenient to get there and it’s, you know, Michigan, we decided I’d opt out this time. But our Hannah convinced him otherwise—she has to go!—because it’s beautiful or something like that. I’m so glad she sold us. The forests around that area are the prettiest ones I’ve ever seen. The couple days we had driving around finding tea and Meyer lemon vinegar and chocolate and darling houses and field after perfect field giving way to maple stands were worth whatever trouble it takes to get there.

For his part he loves having me along because I’m self sufficient. On that particular trip we assumed that with Über I could go and do as I pleased while he did work things. So our first morning there he went to his meetings in the hotel downstairs, and I picked a few yoga studios to investigate, packed my yoga bag, and opened my Über app to discover no cars nearby. Curious. We were in the biggest hotel in the area and there were no hovering drivers? Oh well. I went down to the lobby to catch a cab. No cabs. At the front desk they were confused by my confusion, which was quickly mounting to irritation. Why would they just have cabs waiting? Uh, so I can take one and get to yoga? I ended up taking the hotel’s shuttle to the airoort to rent a horse and buggy, or at least that’s what I was sure I was going to to end up with. Toyota Yaris. Same same.

At dinner that night Jim was a broken record of surprise and pride at the fact that I went and rented a car all by myself. Being the follow up act to a codependent first wife is some of the most fun I have. Surpassing that standard so thoroughly that I look like an effing superhero takes little more than getting out of bed and going to the grocery store solo. You think I’m kidding. I still think I’m kidding. He assures me I’m not. I take my car to get the oil changed and he looks at me like I up and grew horns. Wait. Maybe that’s because my car doesn’t have an engine. And it doesn’t have oil to change . . .

I kid. I kid. I never did that. But it really is simple stuff like that—booking a flight properly without help—that gets him seeing me as the World’s Smartest Woman. I don’t even have to employ my above-average intelligence to impress my husband. This can be a problem as it leads to intellectual atrophy which leads to the death of whatever self esteem I have left, but that’s a personal problem. I’m working through it.

Being able to go along on business trips is one of the reasons that I quit my job selling life-saving medications. (See what I did there?) In our case, it’s good for our relationship for us to spend time together, especially when we go out of town, so if our relationship is more important than me having a full-time job, then it made sense for me to make myself available for stuff like that in a way that keeping the job wasn’t allowing. (Also the job was becoming one of those things that made me a miserable, crazy bitch, so it was migrating from the asset column to liability.)

His job goes through phases where it requires travel. The places he goes are worth visiting. All places are, really. I can at least find somewhere to take yoga class. So I go along. And when he’s not in meetings we find places to explore, like a chocolate factory to tour, a waterfall to visit, and a fruit stand that only sells asparagus. What do I want with a bunch of asparagus? I wanted to eat a flat of strawberries while we drove to the next town, you fools. You’re a fruit stand! Sell fruit! My fruit. I don’t care what’s in season! I care what I want!

Because he likes to do things at the spur of the moment and I like to be where he is and—cautiously—try new stuff. I may wake up one morning with plans to take class that night but instead end up face to face with a giraffe. It’s not uncommon for me to find myself throwing things in a bag to run off to wherever one of his clients needs attention. I'll suddenly end up in San Diego (on that trip he pulled an entire key lime pie out of his suitcase when we got into our hotel room; a good story for another time) or a Giants game or ballet. My big first world problem is that I have to make sure that my wardrobe is diverse. Hey, let’s go to a Cirque show or two in Vegas tomorrow. Cocktail dress. Check. Let’s go to Yosemite. Hiking shoes. Check. The lake. Swimsuit and scowl. Check.

When he started working on tickets to Jimmy Fallon I asked, “You’re not, like, terminally ill are you?”

“Uh, no. Why?”

“We do so much stuff. Cool stuff. It’s like we’re trying to cram as much living as we can into the little time you have left.”

Some Sunday a month ago I asked what he wants to do for Thanksgiving. We don’t have the kids this year, so we aren’t tied to a traditional dinner. “Want to go see Nick and Mal?” he asked. Well, sure. They live in Denmark. So now there are tickets to Copenhagen in November.

“You’re not terminal?”


This last Friday the opportunity arose to go to Burning Man next week. “Want to?” he asked. “Hell yes,” I replied, “Let me me just make sure you still have those blue lamé shorts . . . But are you sure you’re—“

“No. I’m not terminal. I just like to have fun.

I know as well as anyone that things can—they will—change, fast, and life may not always look like this. So for now we do all the things and I marvel at how this can be someone’s reality. My reality. Weird.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


A few months ago I tore a snippet out of Yoga Journal where the magazine asked prominent teachers in the Western yoga community if the typical 200-hour yoga teacher training is sufficient to make someone an instructor. Before even scanning the responses I exclaimed, “No!” RYT-200 (Registered Yoga Teacher) is my certification level and I’ve never felt like that first rung—the one most widely maintained throughout the yoga teaching community—should be considered enough to let a person call themselves a yoga teacher. When I do (and I try all sorts of semantic backflips to avoid it whenever possible) I feel like a fraud.

I’ve always been a stickler for credentials, and while I’ve got the common credentials—call it the yoga teaching Associates degree—I’ll feel like a hack until I get at least one of two things: the next notable level up, a 500-hour certification, or loads more experience. The 500 takes time, and I’ve got that underway, but I don’t care how much classroom training you’ve got if you don’t have the experience. Unfortunately the only way to accumulate experience teaching is to teach. Teach real people. Sorry students, I’m learning to get good at teaching you by doing it.

There are times when I’m teaching and I think, Why in the world are you people listening to me? I have no idea what I’m talking about. Which isn’t true. I know stuff. I’ve become as meticulous a student as ever hits the mat. I research all the garbage that comes out of my mouth. I’m conscientious about giving safe, supportive instruction. But for the impact 12 years of yoga has had on my body, good and maybe not so good, and the weight it has in my life, I take seriously the job of teaching it, no matter where the class or how many students. I can’t know—usually the practitioner won’t even know—if that class could be the tipping-point. Don’t blow it, Megan. I’ve had teachers who don’t know anatomy enough to understand that what's falling out of their mouths is bullshit and detrimental. I’ve had teachers give me bad verbal and hands-on adjustments that exacerbated injury. I feel like it takes so much more than what I have in order to be qualified to be entrusted with a room of bodies and minds ready for overhaul. But there I am, the little in leggings cueing you into Vira II again.

I’ve struggled with the shift from full-time drug rep and part-time designer to stay-at-home wife, sporadic designer, and yoga teacher. Leaving one set of daily activities for the other was the easiest, most seamless thing I’ve ever done; it’s been the fact of change in income that’s rattled me. Wise or not, our society uses annual spoils as a way to mark one’s level of professional achievement, and because I exceeded the average I bought into it. (If I’m not surpassing a particular standard I discount its relevance and therefore maintain success. Redefine the win, Dear Reader.)

According to the U.S. census I was doing okay for myself. When in 2015 I left my pharmaceutical career of 10 years, graphic design money aside, I was pulling in 175% of the median household income. Not too shabby. I went from a single W-2 that said I made $97,000 to a handful of 1099s that put my annual fiscal contribution closer to $7,000. The math done for you: when I quit my job pedaling insulin to instead teach some yoga I took a $90,000 pay cut. Thus with my estimation of self-worth tied loosely to how much money I was making, I’ve loosely come to think of myself as worthless.

Turns out that pisses Jim off.

On a drive home from dinner last week I started whining about how since my “career” shift I have no value (fiscally speaking; though not suffering specifics I went with all-encompassing) my husband’s response was to a little bit lose his shit.

“Stop saying you don’t add any value. I’m sick of hearing that. I’m proud of you.

“I teach yoga.”

“Yeah. I’m proud of what you do.”

“I make no money. I’m worthless.”

“When you say that it makes me think you’re unhappy.”

“I’m not unhappy. I just have no financial value.”

“So what?”

Let’s just sum up the whole conversation and problem itself by saying that I might have erred in tying up self-worth with income. Doing that now leaves me inconsequential. When I talk to a new student before class I tell them that if a posture hurts during class, Hey, stop doing it and we’ll figure out something else. Maybe obey my own rule?

Jim’s end point landed at if you’re unhappy—I’m actually not—you’re welcome to go back to work if you’d like—oh, I do not—but you oughta know that you have huge value to me—aw—and to your students—aw . . . wait, really?

It goes back to that 200-hour certificate being puny. I’m a new teacher. I’ve been teaching for a year and a half now. How can I possibly provide any instruction worth following and coming back to when my training was so little and my experience not much to speak of?

The only answer that works for me is the 3,500 hours I’ve spent taking yoga classes. That’s what I have to offer—my experience as a student. The 200 hours of teacher training gave me the tools to translate that experience to classes that I hope I hope I hope are useful. I have experience with yoga injury, success in postures, shifts in my practice, catering to my individual anatomy, curbing my ego, stepping back from the practice, new understanding of what my practice means to me, stretch, strength, the task of balancing the two, learning how yoga fits in my life, how it affects my life, how that changes over time, knee problems, sacroiliac issues, shoulder trauma, reshaping my down-dog, and with being a longtime, attentive, often-obsessive yoga student.

Now, at this rate, according to the 10,000 hours-to-mastery rule from Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, I’ve only got 25 more years of taking yoga classes until I’m an expert student and 45 more years of teaching until I’m a master instructor. So come take my class when I’m 79. It’ll be siiick.

My teaching style isn’t what’s common in a vinyasa class. It’s irreverent. Which maybe isn’t the best idea when it comes to yoga. (Look at me, just bursting with confidence today.) But I see it like this, if a student has a good time in a class they’re more likely to come back, to build a practice over time, to go to more classes and other teachers, and to find value in time on the mat. So while perpetually tugging the class back to breath, I lean toward partnering the physical with the funny.

I believe that you need more than one reason to come to the mat. Maybe it’s meditation. Maybe it’s that you have a good time. That you dig being upside down. That you have new yoga gear or like seeing your yoga friends. I don’t care what brings you to the mat. I care that you come. And relying on one reason alone—well, it’s just what I do on Wednesday afternoons—often isn’t enough for long-term attention. What brought you there becomes irrelevant as the practice seeps in. You get stuff on the mat. Maybe not what you thought you wanted but instead what you needed. For that you have to show up.

My role as the girl in the front of the room is to try to give you as many reasons to keep showing up as I can. So using the assets I come by naturally, I augment with play; we have fun in class—safe fun, really, really safe fun—so that that one class can contribute to creating a personal conviction that yoga is something worth doing.

Whenever I go to the dentist I always apologize for my teeth. Which are straight, white, and cavity-free. This last time I bashfully admitted that while I usually floss at least five days a week, lately it’s only been, like—gasp—two. I’m sorry my mouth is so gross. The hygienist replied, “It’s always the ones that fret and apologize that have nothing to worry about. They’re the ones with good care that don’t realize that their teeth are great. Your hygiene is perfect. It’s the people who don’t care that have problems. You wouldn’t believe some of the stuff I see.” (Insert some histrionic gagging here. Dentists. Gynecologists. Mouths. Lady Business. The people that choose to deal with that stuff as their bread and butter are more than a few slices shy of a loaf.)

I’d like to think that it works the same way with yoga teaching. It’s the ones that go into it too quickly and with overconfidence that aren’t doing a good job and the ones that agonize and apologize and are sure they’re a disaster that don’t realize that they actually don’t have anything to worry about. Let it be that. Let it be that so that I can let my head move on from certainty that I suck and fear that I’m destroying the practices entrusted to me to working on my goal of swearing less while teaching yoga. Not kicking the cussing altogether, you understand, just ratcheting back that shit.

Friday, August 12, 2016


Two important things happened in 1982. Yes, yes Tylenol laced with cyanide killed people. Think smaller and less national newsworthy. Number one: Jim got his first car, an International Scout. And the second: I was born. While he was learning to drive, I was learning to eat. When he was graduating from high school I was graduating to a toddler bed.

I am 34 years old and on Saturday my husband turned 50. He looks great. He feels great. He’s never taken better care of himself. So while a tucked away bit of me was a titch uneasy about the gist of this milestone birthday, it’s actually not a thing.

I know that I’m a significant reason he does the eating right and exercising stuff. When I’m his age he will be today’s social security age. When I’m today’s social security age he will be 80. Because men tend to knock off earlier than women and because he’s got 16 years on me, before we got married I had to sit myself down and come to terms with the idea that if we signed on there'd be a good chance I’d spend the last 20 years of my life alone.

Bummer concept though it is, he’s worth it.

When my divorce was certain it took my dad a hot second to start working on my next spouse. I wasn’t interested. A decade of experience with the first one said they were just a needy and dramatic hassle. Jim—not needy or dramatic—opened my mind.

Once Jim and I started to spend time together it wasn’t long before I decided to make him mine. Age was the first hurdle. It didn’t stall me even slightly, but I knew that in his ideas about remarriage he was only thinking within his own age group. He needed prodding to look the next decade down.

One night after I’d come over for some reason or another we were sitting in the front room downstairs that’s now decorated with the art I chose and bright colors I like (and Benjamin has told me he prefers to the way the house used to be decorated) we were talking about The Topic. The others. The affair. The lies. The divorce. The thing that sat us in the same room in the first place and was destroying his children.

“The age difference baffles me,” I told him. Bump. “She’s eight years older than he is. It’s the wrong direction. You don’t graduate from a younger woman to an older woman . . . ” He nodded agreement. Set. “But I think it’s totally okay for a man to go for someone much younger.” He looked at me, his face reading the realization of what I’d just suggested. Spike.

He recalls that conversation as the moment when it hit him that Sister Romo was into him. That she was an option. Before that he thought of me more like a little sister. A month earlier he had offered to cut me a Christmas tree when he was out cutting theirs. But why? Because if one of his sisters had been newly divorced and away from family he’d hope that someone else would take care of them like that. He was being the good guy that he can’t help but be. It’s that good guy that obliviously reeled me in. Hey, wait . . . There’s a fish on this line! I don’t think I even baited the hook . . . Aw. All you had to do to bait the hook is be you, handsome James.

Since 50 is the most standout birthday left (‘cept his 100th, he reminds me) I wanted Jim’s to be special. So I orchestrated a 50-days-to-50 celebration. Every day for the 50 days leading up to his birthday he’d get present—a trinket, a note, a something. I recruited his closest people, interspersed silly whatnot betwixt the meaningful gifts so as to not overwhelm the boy, and kept tissues handy. They were necessary. Katelynn found a recording of his dad talking about the day they adopted Jim. For nine-days-to-50 Josie wrote nine reasons he’s the best dad. Traci found a journal entry Brandon wrote about a day he and Jim spent together with their kids. My mom sent Spikeball and a letter about how grateful she is that he’s part of our family. Turning 50 turned out to be a great reason to make it loud and clear how much my husband’s loved. He merits all of it.

One card from a friend talked about how much he enjoys watching Jim support all his people. That’s it. That’s the thing that makes Jim unlike other guys. His life is structured to support us all. His employees. His family. His friends. He wants all of us content and spends his time deploying resources to make it so.

So what I was barely walking when he graduated high school? When your health is a priority and your mental age is about 14, age is just a number. So what I landed him at 46 and missed so many earlier years? I’ll take whatever time I can get.

Happy Birthday, baby. You were a choice. The best one I ever made.

Sunday, July 17, 2016


The cosmetic dermatologist sat down on the stool across from me and asked, “So what are you here for?”

“I want you to fix my face.”

“What exactly do you think needs fixing?”

“My face. It’s time. I’m looking old and my aesthetician agrees that it’s time for needles. So even though needles terrify me, I’m more scared of what I see in the mirror, so I want you to poke needles in my face and make it look better.”

“So Botox?”

“Yeah, that.”

“Well, I don’t see any fine lines on your face. So Botox may not be the solution you’re looking for,” she took a satin nickel rimmed vanity mirror off the countertop and handed it to me, “So, here, why don’t you look in this mirror and tell me what’s bothering you.”

I accepted the mirror and without looking in and it replied, “Oh. My face.” I swept my hand around my head and said, “The whole thing, really . . . well the puppet lines bug me.”

“Can I tell you what bothers me?”


She indicated where I could use some filler and I asked about Botox used prophylactically and that’s how one ordinary Wednesday I came to have a 31 gauge needle inserted into my face in seven places.

This experience helped bring me fully to the fact that I have no idea what I look like. None of us does. What I see in the mirror isn’t the same as what other people see when they look at me. I see dark spots and bags and big pores. My husband sees my bright eyes and straight teeth. I see bumps and divots on the backs of my thighs. He sees the pert shape of my butt. I see that my thighs are massive. He sees that they’re muscular.

I’ve gone through my life just assuming that the world I see is the same one everyone else is looking at. But no. We don’t even take in the same vistas.

Since the early stages of our relationship Jim and I have played a game—What Do You See? It occurred to me as I was getting to know him that we weren’t focusing on the same things when we looked at the world. I’d comment on signage and he’d ask, “What sign?” How did he not see that? “So what were you looking at if not that font?” “The power lines strung by the road. They’re old here. They aren’t buried.”

When we were driving through the area around Lake Michigan a few months ago—easily one of the most beautiful drives I’ve even been on, and I was raised on the Wasatch front, went to college in Hawaii, and now live adjacent to Lake Tahoe and am therefore not easily impressed—we played our game a lot.

Me: That is the most amazing blue!

Him: What? The sky?

Me: No. The nursery back there.

Him: What nursery?

Me: Uh, the one that was deep blue and surrounded by flowers and flagstones. What where you looking at?

Him: There was a tractor for sale.


Him: When you see machinery like that in the backs of trucks do you wonder what the guy uses it for?

Me: What machinery? What truck?


Jim sees industrial things. Construction things and wood. What I see is driven by color, scale, and alignment. Just last night we were sitting on a restaurant patio for dinner and he asked what I see. I couldn’t get past the mustard-colored blouse on another diner. It was clearly new and bought online. Because it still had the fold marks in it. “Why doesn’t she steam those out?” I asked, “It’s a really cute shirt and she ruined it. What were you looking at?”

“The curved roof over there. It was well done and has nice design elements.”

I’ve driven past that building thousands of times and never once given a thought to the windows below the arched roof. I’ve never noticed the roof is arched.

Right now, through the sliding glass doors, I can see Jim outside on his hands and knees sanding the deck. (Yes, I offered to help and he said I could bring him a glass of water.)

When he said that he was looking forward to getting that done this weekend and that the deck will look great when it’s refinished I told him, “You know, my list of things we need to do to the house is long and that wasn’t even on my radar.”


“I didn’t really even see that it needed work.”

“It’s good that we see different things.”

“So you’re telling me that you haven’t been losing sleep over the ottoman downstairs?”

“What ottoman?”

Monday, July 4, 2016


An imperious mid-sized woman just stopped at the row in front of me, looked down at the man in a camo cap settled 4D and pointed at the seat next to him. He stood, stepped into the aisle, and let her pass. As she scooted through, that woman with a pinched mug glowered at his country face. There are 60 unsold seats on this plane. Even for the late boarders middle isn’t mandatory.

I like being an outsider on planes where so many seem to know each other. This flight departed at 11PM. I’ll find my car in Reno Tahoe International’s long term garage around 1AM. You wouldn't expect a flight at this hour to be brimming with conviviality, but there are enough gregarious college softball players and coaches on this plane to surrender to cliché and reclassify us as the planet’s friendliest flying lesbian bar. And though it’s jovial in here I’m happy not to be a part of it. I’m tired. I’m done. And I’m glad to not have to explain my standoffishness to jolly traveling companions.

I should have been home by now, but imaginary thunderstorms rerouted my trip from SLC. The $100 travel voucher from Southwest was a nice gesture and the roasted beet and hazelnut salad in the Denver airport was worth replicating, but I’d rather see my husband while he’s awake today.

When I finally get home around 1:30AM I’ll come into the house, hear Sophie’s tags clink against each other as she bobs down the stairs to meet me, Gus’ claws irritatingly scrape against our new carpet as he army crawls from under our bed upstairs, and the heavy vibrations of my Jim’s snores. Even though the people in my house wouldn’t stir a bit if I spoke at full volume I’ll whisper loves at my creatures as they meet me halfway down the stairs. Anything but sotto voce in a dark house after midnight seems out of place. When I slip into bed, Jim will stir. The snoring will stop. He’ll roll over, reach for me, pull me to him, expertly find my butt with his left hand, find my head with his mouth, kiss whatever he finds—my eye, my bangs, my part, my cheek—and mutter, “My wife. I love my wife,” release me, roll back over, and resume slumber. But without the snoring this time. I’m home. He doesn’t need the companionship of his own mythic breathing.

I'm on my way home from four days in Utah. I went for my nephew Van’s baptism. Eight years ago I stood at the foot of my sister’s hospital bed and watched him arrive. He was my first birth. My sisters, my parents, the person I was married to back then, they all thought I’d freak. Instead, I saw a baby crown, I saw him slide into able hands, I heard his wail, his mother’s confessions of love, and I cried. Now he’s a blond boy with a froth of freckles and a penchant for collecting—rocks, bones, thread, needles, keys, whatever seems homeless and in need of purpose.

Over the weekend I swam with the nieces and nephews, dragging them from one end of my mom’s pool to the other on a giant inflatable slice of pizza. I followed Claire’s teeny legs and bum up the ladder for the Big Slide to stop her from falling if she slipped and I held my hands underwater flashing numerical gang signs so the littles in goggles could practice their underwater breathing and burst back up hollering, “Three!” “Five!”

When I switched from my swimsuit into the nearest pair of Lululemon Wonder Unders Claire asked, “Aunt Megan, why did you change your clothes?” When she heard my reply: “Because if I go more than 14 hours without wearing a pair of yoga leggings I start twitching uncontrollably,” that perfect four-year-old brain housed behind eyes bluer the the cerulean pool lining surrounding her told her that it was a reasonable answer and she nodded with total understanding.

It’s Claire who approached me at the brunch after the baptism, pointed at the leopard high-heeled sandals on my feet, and asked, “Aunt Megan, can I wear your shoes?” Later, back at Grandma’s house, I let her. Her skills in 3.5” heels are as good as anyone six times her age. Better, actually.

Almost ten years ago my parents sold the house we grew up in. I’m not the sentimental daughter. In fact, I’m heartless. If there’s a better house, go get it. What does it matter if the walls were papered with memories and the grout darkened by six pairs of little girl feet caked with summertime and on their way to the bath? Sell it. Leave it. Find something you like better. But my sisters have souls. So my mom made us each a book of the Provo house, with photos from each room—before the remodel and after—pictures with all of us that lived there and made that place something worth recollection.

On the first night of my trip I invited myself and my parents over to my sister Cat’s house for dinner. Almost immediately upon walking into their home, my five-year-old nephew Samson took me to the bookcase to show me his Minecraft books, his preschool graduation binder, and a Star Wars picture book. “My mom has a book of her old house,” he told me, pointing up at a higher shelf. “I know,” I said, “I have that same book. I used to live there too.” His bitsy mouth formed an O and he asked, “Really?” “Yup. We lived together for a long time. We shared a room.” He went on, “In that book is a bad, bad man. He made you very sad.” He was referencing my ex-husband. “Yeah,” I told him, “We hate that guy.” “We all hate him so much,” tiny Sam agreed. And then he took me to the back room to show me his miniature violin and to the yard to show me his slide.

I don’t visit Utah often. Jim and I travel a lot but not so often to Utah. The infrequency is good in a way because it means that I get so excited to visit, and while there I’m the most interesting novelty. At whoever’s house I visit I have to see every corner, hear each story, read important things aloud, and play games (until I finally win). My parents stay awake late to talk. My sisters make the drive down to Mom and Dad’s. And I get to hear for myself that now Silas makes sense when he speaks and Walt is still enamored with his mama. And I don’t miss the sliver of time where Violet’s lack of two front teeth give her a little lisp. But my, it’s good to get to go home. As my minutes in the air slip by, the plane’s occupants settle, and I get closer to that daily routine that is my comfort and the man that makes my heart tick quicker.