widow in a party dress

Throwback Valentine: Heart-Shaped Puzzle

Last February 14th, I shared pictures of my graffiti heart project.

And was surprised by the reactions:

Why didn’t you text me?

If you do this next year, I’m in like sin.

Yo, I want to make Valentines for New York City.

I’d blushed and promised to throw a heart party next February.

Didn’t really mean it.

A few weeks ago, a girlfriend asked why hadn’t I sent out the invite yet?

To what?

To your Heart Party.


My Heart Party.

The third time it was mentioned, I agreed to an actual date and sent out a legit invitation.

I’ve cleaned every surface in the apartment.

Assembled appetizers.

Shoved clutter into cabinets.

Set up a prosecco bar.

Created a four-hour playlist.

My last task is to cut out 15 Valentines: hosting duties might not allow me much hearts-and-crafts time.

I dip into the pile of magazines that my girls and gays will be cutting up in a few hours.

The “Reasons to Love New York” issue of New York magazine is a gold mine.

I’ve made 15 heart shapes by the time I reach the back cover.

I’m about to toss it in the recycling bin when I see the crossword puzzle.

Every blank square is filled.

With my all-cap handwriting.

I pause to revel in its messy completion.

And notice the handwriting in the margins.

Not mine.


What the—?

I scan the date on the puzzle.

February 2, 2009.

I devour his distinctive slant.

His stored trivia.

Words like RIKERS and EERO and ODESSA are in his hand and they are why this puzzle is completed.

Couldn’t have finished it without him.

When I see the word AORTA in his handwriting, I can’t stop myself from reading the clue.

Main artery.


Part of the vital organ that would fail him 41 days later.

I stop reading.

Close the magazine.

I do not recycle it.

I couldn’t have finished it without you.


Met, hung out and took selfies with a bunch of cool folks at Katsucon this weekend!

In order of appearance:
Legolas and New Thor - peppermonster (who also took these two photos)
Wiccan - pantydragon
Loki - spectregeneral66
Astrid - nokki1
Storm - sassyblacknerd
Sherlock - myrddin-emrys
Mary Morstan - theshatteredshouette
The Man at Arms guys
Black Widow (IM2 party dress) - moonriot
Eddie Gluskin - spectregeneral66
Black Widow (Age of Ultron) - moonriot

(Beyond the 'What-Ifs')

“My 26-year-old friend was preparing to celebrate her second wedding anniversary and instead, has found herself a widow. I heard her say ‘why couldn’t he had gotten stuck at a red light one intersection before?’ and ‘why couldn’t he had taken a different route home?’ Echoes of your ‘what ifs’  floated through my head and while I can’t pretend to know her pain, at least I know what not to say. All I could muster was ‘when you’re ready, look up whiteelephantintheroom.com.’ My hope is that your words will help her move beyond the ‘what if’ stage and find the peace that surpasses understanding. It’s incredibly bittersweet the way your journey has become a lifeline for those in need. I can’t thank you enough for providing a resource for me to pass on, so thank you…beyond measure.” — Helen, Colorado