Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Message to Michael

Kingdom of God, Shambhala, Pure Land,
originally uploaded by Fe 108Aums.

Dear Michael,

Tomorrow is another Thanksgiving, but my first without you. Today was a busy one, taking Remy to the orthodontist, going into the office for a few hours, grocery shopping, coming home to hang with the boys, dropping Remy off at a friend's house, grocery shopping again, then home with Dante. During my first shopping trip I bought you some beautiful fuchsia orchids. They are in a vase on our window sill. Later at Trader Joe's I found what I really was looking for, your blue irises. I hope you don't mind that I combined them with a bouquet of white calla lilies. I know that calla lilies are not your favorite, but I do love them for their simple elegance. Your irises have not yet opened, but I expect them to fully reveal themselves by morning.

There is a votive candle, actually two, providing a warm glow next to your urn. I initially put on some soft music for us tonight, but quickly found it was disrupting my thoughts. As soon as I finish here I will play one of your favorite CD's.

I have been racking my brain trying to remember how we spent Thanksgiving last year. I looked at the calendar as saw the we had gone for your MRI appointment on this day. The news was concerning, but we were optimistic that about a positive change due to your returned treatments. We chose not to mention it to anyone until we had more information. Now I remember, Remy spent the night at Max's house. Well, tonight he is spending the night with Sterling, who flew into SF to stay with his grandparents for the holiday. Remy is quite the social butterfly, isn't he? Anyway, Dante and I will be joining them tomorrow for dinner. Sterling's mother and grandmother kindly invited us to join them, and they didn't take my initial "thanks, but no thanks" for an answer. I'm glad they persisted with the request, I'm actually looking forward to spending the holiday meal with a neutral crowd. Okay, so it's all coming back to me now. We had your mother, brother and his kids over for Thanksgiving last year. I remember we made way to much food. I remember looking across the table at your mother, and having an unspoken understanding between us that this could likely be the last Thanksgiving meal shared with you whole family.

I won't be with you mother, and the rest of your clan, tomorrow. The distance is just too far, and since I still don't sleep much, I don't think it would be safe to make the drive. I remember two years ago when we all gathered at your cousin's home for the holiday. It was so nice to be with all of your relatives. They are all so loving and special. I will certainly miss them this year. Your mother came by for a visit this past Saturday. She brought me some harvest colored flowers, and I also had bought her a vase filled with beautiful flowers. I will give your mother a call tomorrow, and wish her a happy holiday from both of us. I'm going to tell her how wonderful it was having her by our side this summer, and taking such loving care of you. I'm going to thank her for the gift you were to me. I think she needs to hear this often, as she is hurting so much due to your having to leave us.

I also called in an order of flowers for my parents. I won't be seeing them during the holiday, as they live too far from here. When I called to order the flowers I struggled with the details of the message card. I used the same florist I have used for over twenty years, and the ladies there know my voice. When she asked how I want the card to read, I half expected her to ask if it should say from Danny, Mike and kids, as usual. Instead I just took a deep breath, and said "love Danny and kids." It hurt so much to omit your name to the card. It took me back to the numerous years prior to meeting you, and how I had been single for so long. I know that my parents will likely shed a tear when they read the card and are reminded that you are no longer here.

Michael, I can feel that these days ahead are going to be very difficult for me. I am going to do my best to bring some joy into the holidays. I have discussed this with the kids, and they have agreed that we would do something special to include you in each celebration. They also understand that I need to make these holidays very low key, quiet, yet joyous. Okay, so I'll be crying a lot, but I promise to let joy into my heart at times. On Monday I was shopping at Target, running in quickly to get some of the staples that allow our home to function correctly. Of course the store was filled with Christmas decorations, and the music was a bit stifling. I wanted to politely ask if they could turn it down, but of course didn't. As I walked by all the Christmas ornaments and things I told myself to just get in their and buy something. It felt like speed shopping, but that is what I did. I figured that the kids deserve some holiday spirit at home, but I knew I don't want to get out all of our usual decorations. So I started grabbing new lights, ornaments, ribbons and paper. Everything is in white and gray. I hope you like it, as I'm thinking it will be beautiful, yet calming. Arianne hasn't been home for several days now, but I'm sure she will turn up soon. I also know that she will be the one who will ask where are all our usual decorations. This weekend I also plan to get on this computer and get most of our gift shopping done. The kids agree to make it simple, which the boys interpret as one big-ticket item. You know, I would buy them the moon this year if it could bring us all some happiness.

Of course what I want is you. Right now I'm being very selfish, and unrealistic, and saying that I want you here, physically here with me. I know that's not going to happen, but it's what I want. I also want to keep moving forward so that I can feel like I am handling my life better. I need you to help me find the balance. I keep telling myself this mantra, "be open, be open, be open." I know that for me to continue healing through this grieving process, I need to be open to the unexpected. It is so hard to imagine not feeling the way I do today, for the rest of my life. And yet I counsel people on this almost every day. I hear myself telling them to take it one day at a time.

One day at a time. This is such a simple concept. I just reached over to a book on my night stand to look at the Serenity Prayer. When I opened the book a photo dropped out. It was the picture taken of us when we bought our wedding rings in Provincetown. Remy had gone with us on that trip, and he is standing there between us. We all look so happy. I remember how we both were so pleased with the selection we made. I also remember us hiking through the sand dunes the next day, and how I ended up covered in welts from all the insect bites. It serves as a reminder, that you take the good with the bad. And in the end, I have to say, it was all good.

Well Michael, I'll close this message. Two candles continue to burn next to your ashes. The urn I chose for you is called "A walk through the Woods." It has such earthy texture. Each time I walk by it I find my hands naturally gravitate toward it. It helps me feel like I am holding part of you. I never realized how comforting it would be to have your ashes here in our bedroom, and I thank you for requesting it. You knew ahead of time what I would need, and I love you so much for that.

Michael, I think of you in God's kingdom. I have no idea what that looks like, or what it really means. I won't truly understand where you are at until I get there myself. But whenever God/the universe decides it's my time, I will rejoice in being back with you.

I love you with all my heart.

Your husband, Dan

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.


  1. a beautiful loving missive. i realize there are so many interpretations but in the book i use, in the language of flowers, calla lilies and orchids speak to beauty and refinement. irises speak of faith, hope, wisdom, and valor, all of which seem appropriate for your beloved.

    it is my first Thanksgiving as well. obviously. it's 4 AM and i cannot sleep. this pain is reverberating around inside my hollow empty self. he's not here for me to crawl up against him to feel his net breath; the one he didn't take that night.

    you and your family are in my prayers.

  2. Thank you for sharing the language of flowers with me. I now can look to them with deeper meaning.

    I'm sure you realize this, but when you are up through the night in pain, there are many of us doing the same. I rarely fall asleep before 2am. What I am saying is, you are never completely alone in your grief. I will make it a point to say a prayer for you whenver I find myself in the same position.

    I also remind myself that if I am in such pain, then I know I was also in such love. Part of my thanksgiving focus today is in thanks for all of us who grieve, giving thanks for the love that we had. I pray that our loved one's can find a way to remind us of that message today.