Sunday, February 28, 2010
Walking the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral
Originally uploaded by Hollen
Today I have been thinking a lot about the fact that in two weeks it will officially be 6 months since Michael died, meaning 6 months that I have been in mourning, grieving as a widower. As I wrote this last sentence I stopped for a minute to google a question that came to mind. What exactly is the difference between grief and mourning. I had my own ideas, but was curious about how others described it. In a nutshell, here is what I found. Grief is an internal response to loss. Mourning is taking the internal grief we have and expressing it externally.
With that in mind, what exactly am I doing here, meaning on this blog? I am writing about my internal process. I suppose you could say I am externally expressing my internal process. Can you tell that I'm a bit focus-challenged today?
In thinking about the 6 month mark, I began thinking about where I am in my grieving process. I have been feeling like it is time to start moving forward, maybe taking some small steps in letting go of the things I use as crutches in my clinging to Michael. What I thought I would initially do was begin sorting through his clothing. When Michael's mother visited last month we went through most of his belongings, mostly talking about what he had, the stories behind them, and what was important to her, what was important to me. When it came to his clothing she said to take my time with it. She said that when I am ready I could put aside what I wanted to keep, then box up the rest. She will allow Michael's brother, and nephew, to pick out some items, then donate the rest to her local hospice thrift store.
All weekend I have been looking at Michael's clothing, pretty much already knowing which items hold the most sentiments for me, but I didn't actually touch anything. I decided that it is something I'll perhaps start tomorrow, or next weekend, but not today. Since I was on the computer I realized I hadn't checked his email in some time. During these past months, I have been checking his email account a couple of times a month, just to see if there was any forgotten business to attend to, or to make sure there wasn't anyone trying to reach him, not knowing he had passed away. After combing through all the new email, I decided that there was nothing new of significance, so it was time to close the account.
Before I could close Michael's email account I needed to find out how to back up the saved folders in the account. Michael had a lot of important information in there, especially from all of his prior genealogy research. I doubt that his brother, or nephew and nieces, will do anything with it, but perhaps another relative may ask one day. There may also be a point where re-reading old email will be important to me, and I want to have it saved. This led me to doing some research online about how to copy and save the various folders, each of which contain hundreds of email messages. After reading many approaches to this task, I made a choice, and moved forward. I was quite pleased with myself once I had completed the task. And, after checking, and re-checking, the saved folders, it came time to click the tab that closed the account.
I took a deep breath, and gently pressed the cursor. Closed.
I was calm. I knew it was a good choice, and it was the right time. Exhale.
Okay, I'm lying. It was nothing like that. Just thinking about closing the account had me in tears. Each time I started the process for each folder I would be glancing at the various emails, and wanting to find a piece of Michael that I may have not noticed before. My heart was racing. My anxiety increased. My breathing became labored, and I cried some more.
Before deciding to address the email account I was considering closing his Facebook account. I decided that it too was perhaps keeping me from moving forward. I decided that it was time to change my relationship status from married to widowed, but that required that I either close his account, or sever our Facebook relationship. I had decided that I needed to make a decision, so I clicked on the link from my account to his. And there, on his wall, was a recent note from one of his cousin's daughters, telling him how much she loved him and missed him.
I couldn't do it. Tears. More tears. How can I deprive someone, like his cousin's daughter, from posting him a message? Thus the decision to say, "sorry Hotmail, off with your head!" Well, perhaps it wasn't that dramatic. But tears were involved.
Originally uploaded by [rich]
Next on the chopping block, the closet! And, no. I haven't been in there for quite some time.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Fight Club Soap
Originally uploaded by joe_sciglitano
Yesterday I received a message from one of Michael's prior coworkers. She was letting me know that a group of people in the office have decided to participate in this years Brain Tumor Walk. She was wanting to know if I was putting together a team, as I had done that past two years. She said they would be happy to join my team, or I could join theirs if I decided not to organize a group this year.
I was glad that I had been so busy at work Friday, otherwise I would have had time to pick up the call, and be forced to deal with something I have been avoiding for some time. The Brain Tumor Walk in our area is a very nice event. They hold in Golden Gate Park, and have lots of activities and food throughout the day. Both times we participated, we were able to raise a good amount of money, and it brought our family together to show Michael how supported and loved he was. There is always so much great energy with the group of people participating. I always see many of the people I have come to be familiar with from various support groups and hospital waiting rooms. There are many doctors and nurses from all cities that make up the Bay Area.
What makes this difficult, of course, is that like many others I have come to know, Michael succumbed to his brain tumor. During the past two years of our participation I have looked on at the families that make t-shirts in memory of the lost family member. They always seem to have such a wonderful and caring appeal to them. I have watched them carefully of course, as I wondered when that would be me.
I remember last years walk, and how we were able to have Michael's mother, brother, and his kids, join us. After the walk everyone came over to our house for a snack, and to rest a bit. We all talked about how much fun we had, and that we should do it again next year. At one point Michael's mother turned to her young grand-daughter, and asked if she wanted to participate again next year. And as child often speaks, without filtering anything out, she responded "sure, if Uncle Michael is still alive."
Well, of course this brought the room to a complete silence. Michael's mother quickly admonished our niece for saying what she said, and everyone else quickly changed the subject. So, here we are. I is the next year, and Michael is not here. I'm afraid of asking my mother in law if she wants to join his coworkers, as she will be put into the same situation I fear. I feel that I need to make a decision on my own, then present to her what I have decided for myself. This might make the question easier on her.
In the months since Michael died, I have thought a lot of how I was previously immersed in the 'brain tumor community,' and now completely not. In the two years that Michael battled his tumor, I have become a bit of a lay expert on brain tumors and care giving. During those two years I thought I would continue to a part of this community in some way, but in my grief I have chosen to apply some distance.
Now, I know that I should only do what I feel emotionally ready to do, but this feels like the time to make a decision. Ideally, I would like to see myself as one of those family members who continue the fight for the lives of others, but I also do not want to do it at my own expense. It is so hard to know what I am ready for. I don't always know until I am actually doing whatever it is. At the same time, I also don't want to think of myself as someone who became so defeated by this type of cancer, and who ran off away from the fight.
I'm also not very good about asking people for donations. Rather than asking everyone around me, I would usually just hit up my family members, and write my own check. It was hard enough asking people when I felt strong, and was fighting for my husband's life. I'm not so sure I can do the same as a widower who lost the fight. Yet, I am very aware that without us widows and widowers, the only people fighting this fight are the newest victims of this terrible disease. Brain tumors, at least in my experience, are a disease with a high turn over of casualties. Every time I went to a group, or a conference, sure enough, half of those in attendance were missing the next year. Michael, and I, are now counted in those previously involved in the fight against brain tumors.
Now I am a widower. Most of my free time is spent addressing my family's loss, or writing about my experience as a widower. It is my new identification, and I am becoming more comfortable wearing the label. In a way, choosing to participate in this fundraiser will push me to start refilling some of the gaps. I just need to decide if filling the gaps is what I want to do.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Originally uploaded by Mitsus
Thursday, February 25, 2010
mom and me
Originally uploaded by Sara Heinrichs (awfulsara)
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
a walk in the clouds...
Originally uploaded by laz'andre
This afternoon my youngest son, and I, returned to Ocean Beach. This time we were prepared to run. It was a beautiful late afternoon, and the sunset was once again gorgeous. But we were not there for the sunset, we were there for some serious running.
For some reason the waves were creating an extreme amount of sea foam. With each rising of the tide, very big cloud like pieces of sea foam would be released. These large clouds would then be carried off by the winds, floating across the shore and sand. It was an amazing feeling of running high up in the sky among the clouds. The wind was wet and cool upon our faces. We felt so alive. After a while we began to look around us and see others running, or playing among the foam cloud like formations. It all felt very magical.
We ran to the end of the beach, which is a considerable distance. Coming back we decided to walk instead. The sun had already retreated for the night, and darkness took it's place. Guiding our way back to where we started was the glow of the moon. The tide was very calm tonight, and it was moving very slowly. With each gravitational force the tide would pull back anywhere from 50 to 100 feet from where it last flowed. With the glow of the moon this created another celestial experience.
walking on clouds
Originally uploaded by Thomas Hartmann
As we walked over the freshly wet sandy shore it had a glass like quality to it. While walking we could see light reflecting up at us. When we looked down we could see remaining remnants of the earlier sea foam slowly moving in swirling formations. The combination of these gave us an experience of walking high above in the heavens. Down below us was the beautiful earth. We could see from our vantage point how the earth moves, with it's seas and land interspersed.
I began walking in further toward the ocean each time the tide was pulled back. It felt like an eternity, and very fragile, as if walking on clear glass. It was so comforting, and soothing with it's calm movement and fresh fragrance. At times the ocean became playful, and chased me back to shore. I ran with my arms stretched out, screaming with joy like an innocent child.
While feeling high above, walking in the heavens, I checked in with Michael. I let him know that I was there enjoying what he would want me to enjoy. I thanked him for encouraging me to get out to the beach once in awhile. I spoke to the deceased spouses of all those I have become familiar with through my blogging. I let them know that we are all here, missing them, loving them, and working hard to keep living. I looked down once again, and saw what they see. They see the beauty of all of us, how we are all part of this great big world. They see our struggles, but they are able to see the bigger picture. Each of our worlds feel so small and claustrophobic at times. When we are hurting, when we are alone, we can feel so small. Because so many of us are left alone, we become very isolated, making our world seem even smaller.
Today's experience opened my eyes to see how much bigger my world can be. How with just a little effort I can experience such openness, such expanse. I can feel one with all of those running in unison across the beach. I can feel one with the ocean and it's waves. I can feel one with the sky above, which allows me to breathe in big breaths of fresh air, and fresh energy so desperately needed. And I can feel all of our loved ones looking down on us, watching over us, reminding us that there is so much out there. We are part of something very big. If we can take a chance at venturing out, we can find ways of feeling attached to the bigger world while also remaining under loving watchful eyes.
This will be a new challenge. I need to remember my experience today. It was a good one. It was life affirming. It fed me, it comforted me, and soothed me. Remember. Remember.
Toward the end of our walk I came upon a perfect sand dollar. I picked it up to investigate it. My son came running up to see what I had. I handed it to him, and he said "just like Mike's sand dollars." You see, Michael has this tin filled with perfect sand dollars that he had picked up along the shore. We have some laying on the vanity in our bathroom, Remy has one in his room, and there are several more still in the tin. When someone would comment about the beautiful sand dollars, Michael would go get his tin, reach into it, and give one away as a gift. Today's sand dollar was a gift from Michael. It was his way of telling me that yes, he is present. I, in turn, gave it as a gift to my son, to remind him of this special evening together.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Originally uploaded by Connor Davison
Today's post is being written rather late. It has been a very busy day, but even as I sat here in my bedroom with everything in place to begin writing, there has been a restlessness that has kept me from starting. Rather than push myself, and jump into my writing, I chose to just sit, and to let my feelings sort themselves out.
What has emerged is that I am so needing to be soothed. The restlessness comes from the knowing that the soothing cannot really take place. There are times when we need soothing in general, and any set of open arms or open heart will do. This is not one of those times. In fact, most of my days are filled with such a strong need, a strong yearning, but always with the knowledge that what I truly desire, I cannot get.
I wish I could report that the mourning process has moved me along further, but that would just be sugar-coating my reality. My grief is always just below the surface. It doesn't take very much to feel awash with emotion. With time I am better able to manage it, but it is always there.
I often feel that I am a walking pressure cooker. If I don't let off some of the steam, I am really going to blow. For me this is done with tears. In each of my days I must find a time and place for my tears. If I don't allow myself to cry, even for a very brief period, I begin to feel a rage growing within me. I want so badly for my reality to be different, but it can't. I miss my love, Michael, terribly. I don't know how else to express it, other than in my tears. The pain is still here, and I don't always know what to do with it.
I can't walk around my world in constant tears, if I did I would just drown. Even now, I am struggling to find the right words to describe what I am feeling, but I am at a loss to adequately explain it. How is it that I am supposed to get through all of this without having his arms around me? How am I supposed to move forward when it feels like there is nothing that I want to move toward.
There are times that I can use objects around me to get a sense of Michael's presence. I can look at the many photos of him, or of us, and smile thinking about our love. Yet in a moments time, I am back to tears. It is so tiring. I so want to fast foward to a year from now, and hope to find that the intensity is different.
~Well, there was a whole lot more to this post, but I just lost it somehow in trying to autosave what I had written. Rather than try to remember all that I wrote, I will take this as a sign to turn my computer off and get some sleep.
"Groovy Kind of Love"
When I'm feeling blue
All I have to do
Is take a look at you
Then I'm not so blue
When you're close to me
I can feel you heart beat
I can hear you breathing
In my ear
Wouldn't you agree?
Baby, you and me got a groovy kind of love
Any time you want to
You can turn me on to
Anything you want to
Any time at all
When I kiss your lips
Ooh, I start to shiver
Can't control the quivering inside
Wouldn't you agree?
Baby, you and me got a groovy kind of love
When I'm feeling blue
All I have to do
Is take a look at you
Then I'm not so blue
When I'm in your arms
Nothing seems to matter
My whole world can shatter
I don't care
Wouldn't you agree?
Baby, you and me got a groovy kind of love
We got a groovy kind of love
We got a groovy kind of love
We got a groovy kind of love
Monday, February 22, 2010
Tonight the kids and I went to Dante's Jiu Jitsu class. Well, Dante went to his class, the rest of us wandered around while he was at his class. Arianne went walking down along the store fronts to talk on her phone. My youngest, Remy, and I walked over to Ocean Beach. He wanted us to go running, but I was wearing dress shoes from my morning at work. I stood by the sea wall, and watched the sun set while he ran around the beach.
For those of you unfamiliar with San Francisco, Ocean Beach is in the north west side of the city, where you find the Cliff House. It is one of those tourist destinations, a beautiful restaurant with beautiful views. It is also one of the places Michael and I considered for our wedding reception.
Ocean Beach was a favorite destination for Michael. He loved the beach. We would occasionally pack up a lunch, our books, and our youngest, Remy, for a day in the sun. It's a great spot for playing with your dog, running, or playing in sand. It's not the safest place for swimming, besides the water is awfully cold. I do remember one scorching hot day when Michael and Remy actually swam in the water. It was a wonderful afternoon. Michael and I had just started dating, and it was our third month anniversary. Yes, third month. When you first start dating, you look for every opportunity to celebrate with a romantic dinner. Ours was with Remy in tow. After an afternoon at the beach we went to Tommy's Mexican Restaurant, where they have killer margaritas. I remember sitting at the table, toasting to each other with our drinks, and Remy asking, "are you going to marry my Dad?"
We laughed, me feeling quite embarrassed. But I do remember us looking into each other's eyes with that certain twinkle. I felt so happy. That was almost four years ago. It's hard to believe that in only four years, we did get married, battled cancer, and said goodbye. Today was my first visit back to Ocean Beach since my last visit there with Michael this past summer. I stood there looking out at Remy running around the beach laughing and having fun. It was a scene played out many times before, but there was that one difference. Whenever we went to the beach I was the stick in the mud, who sat on the blanket reading a book while Michael and Remy played in the sand or water. Today was a good day to return. The weather was cool, but felt refreshing. The sun was setting, and it felt very peaceful. There were not a lot of people around, so I wasn't distracted from the sound of the waves crashing to the shore.
I looked out and spoke to Michael. "Here I am Dear." I immediately wished I had brought some of his ashes with me, but I hadn't really expected to find myself there today. Now that Dante wants to take this class everyday, I expect that we will be spending a lot more time at Ocean Beach. I promised Remy that I would bring my tennis shoes next time so that we can go running. When I do I will bring some of Michael's ashes, just a small handful. I'm slowly spreading a tiny bit of his ashes at our favorite places. A pinch of Michael here, and a pinch of Michael there. I'm wanting him to be one with the world. I'm wanting to know that he is blowing in the wind, and washing up on the shore.
As I stood there looking out at the beach I realized how lucky I was to live in such a beautiful place. I wondered why I didn't come there more often. I made a promise to Michael to go there more in the future, and to remember all the fun times we had. I looked out at Remy running around ridiculously, and reminded myself to make more time for play.
We got home, and Dante gave Remy and I a quick lesson in Jiu Jitsu. We wrestled, laughed and had a really fun time. Arianne just looked at us boys as if we had lost our minds. Once again, I reminded myself just how lucky I am.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Originally uploaded by Mariss Balodis
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Originally uploaded by 【Mr. Oglou】
Friday, February 19, 2010
Minimates Secret Invasion. Super Skrulls!
Originally uploaded by edmondleeart
I went briefly upstairs to the kitchen to search out some more medication, and found my other son, Dante, sitting at the computer. "Hey, Dad, want to search out martial arts classes for me for tomorrow?" Well, actually son, I have a terrible headache, and just came up for more medicine. "Okay, so you want me to come down with the times of the classes so we can decide about tomorrow?" Yes Dante, that would be just fine.
Out comes our dog, Ranger, barking and snapping at my ass. "Ranger! Leave Daddy alone!" screams my daughter from her bedroom. I walk in, she's laying across her bed watching a bootleg version of the new Wolfman movie. I say, Arianne, you shouldn't watch those on the computer, besides I want to see that movie on the big screen. "Oh, let's go online right now to see when the movie is playing tomorrow. Can we go?" Well daughter, let's consider it. "Come watch with me." No thanks daughter, I need to go back downstairs and write my post.
Back downstairs, the cat, Carelli, is waiting at my door. "Meow." Alright, come inside, but leave me alone.
I'll be back upstairs as soon as I'm done writing this. We are having a bit of a celebration. My son Dante moved back home permanently today. He previously attended a residential therapeutic school. I decided that since he was 16 it was time for him to learn to be in the community full time. He is so proud to be living at home, and starting a new high school on Monday. I am also very proud of him. He has learned many new skills, and I'm feeling hopeful for him. I do have my eyes wide open though, as I know very well that this will be a challenging transition. Anyway, to celebrate the milestone, I bought a wonderful sugar filled chocolate sheet cake, complete with sprinkles.
Now the power just went out in the neighborhood. It's a good thing that I always have candles burning in my room for Michael. Suddenly all the kids are screaming, scared. I have three of them, 11, 16 and 18, all huddled on Daddy's bed. You would think I have babies. Maybe I do. As type this I have Ranger sitting on my feet, and Carelli meowing about having to share his space. So much for a peaceful evening.
Oh, my headache is suddenly better.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
three men and a tree
Originally uploaded by yuliang11
The music playing is the music that played throughout Michael's last days. It is the music that guided him peacefully from this world. It is only recently that I have felt strong enough to hear it once again. And, although I say strong enough, it still reduces me to tears. Tears of love.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Identity Crisis (bigger vector)
Originally uploaded by Fuzzy Ink
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Originally uploaded by Brentjp99 (completed)
Gilbert O'Sullivan - Alone Again, Naturally Lyrics
In a little while from now
If I’m not feeling any less sour
I promise myself to treat myself
And visit a nearby tower
And climbing to the top will throw myself off
In an effort to make it clear to who
Ever what it’s like when you’re shattered
Left standing in the lurch at a church
Where people saying: "My God, that’s tough
She's stood him up"
No point in us remaining
We may as well go home
As I did on my own
Alone again, naturally
To think that only yesterday
I was cheerful, bright and gay
Looking forward to well wouldn’t do
The role I was about to play
But as if to knock me down
Reality came around
And without so much, as a mere touch
Cut me into little pieces
Leaving me to doubt
Talk about God and His mercy
Or if He really does exist
Why did He desert me in my hour of need
I truly am indeed Alone again, naturally
It seems to me that there are more hearts
broken in the world that can’t be mended
What do we do? What do we do?
Alone again, naturally
Now looking back over the years
And whatever else that appears
I remember I cried when my father died
Never wishing to hide the tears
And at sixty-five years old
My mother, God rest her soul,
Couldn’t understand why the only man
She had ever loved had been taken
Leaving her to start with a heart so badly broken
Despite encouragement from me
No words were ever spoken
And when she passed away
I cried and cried all day
Alone again, naturally
Alone again, naturally
Monday, February 15, 2010
Let them go away (el novio ingles de chu)
Originally uploaded by PoorSailor
Any new relationship is full of compromise. This seems even more so when you meet later in life, as there are more aspects of your life that have been set in place for awhile. For me, that aspect that was set in place was the fact that I had three children, and I was a home owner. With this, Michael was the one who had to initially compromise, by making the decision to join my household. There were many other areas that we both made decisions of compromise about, but they were happy compromises, as they meant we were merging our lives.
Part of the merging of lives within a new relationship entails future plans together. Ours was pretty specifically laid out, as we wanted to move ahead sooner, rather than later. We planned to sell my house after the first year, so that we could move away from the city, and have more space, a yard for gardening, and a place to retire to.
Now by the fact that you, the reader, are here, you are aware that my husband died. Michael was diagnosed with a brain tumor after we had been together only 1 1/2 years. He had surgery within days of his diagnosis, and his prognosis was fatal. The doctors gave him anywhere from 6 to 12 months to live. We were told that only 5 % of people with his type of tumor survive beyond the first year. With this news our need to compromise began again. This time the compromise came in the form of letting go. We had to look at our life together, and re-examine our plans for the future.
The letting go began very soon after his diagnosis, and continued throughout the time he survived. Michael died just a month short of two years post surgery. During that period of time, we decided that making any big moves or changes would not work for us. When we said us, we really meant me. We never allowed our self to pretend that he would be here for the long haul. We always spoke about the ability to increase his time, and how that could potentially give him an extended life measured in quality. Quantity was not part of our vocabulary.
I remember during the first 6 months of his living with the brain tumor, we would spend quality time talking about our love for each other, and how we could make the most of what we had. I always made sure he knew that how ever long we had, I would be there for him. I wanted him to be reassured that I could handle anything that came our way. I wanted him to sleep every night knowing that he would never have to face anything alone. Once he was asleep, I would quietly step outside our bedroom, and go sit in our window seat, where I would cry under the watchful eye of the moon. I was grieving. I was acknowledging all that I needed to let go of. I was allowing myself to feel each step, each awareness of letting go. Once I was all cried out, I would slip back into bed, put my arms around him, and go to sleep.
We did many wonderful things during the two years that Michael was sick. We travelled quite a bit, and most importantly, we were married. I saw the window of opportunity as a blessing from God. Here we were, a fairly new gay couple, both kind old fashion in our approach to our relationship, and dealing with a life and death situation. I remember the day that the California Supreme Court approved marriage for Lesbians and Gays. Michael and I stood in the living room with our daughter, amazed at what we were hearing on the news. We would have the privilege of sealing our relationship in front of our family and friends. Something we had long ago let go of, was suddenly placed lovingly before us.
Once we got over the excitement of marriage, we began the next phase of letting go. Michael worried about what he was doing to me by getting married, then dying. He worried that making me a widower would only compound the pain in the future. He was right to worry about this, but I couldn't cut off this new dream because of my future impending pain. I loved Michael, and wanted to be his husband. Our family and friends marvelled at our decision to go forward with this.
On October 19, 2008, Michael and I stood before our loved ones, proclaimed our love and commitment, and became one. In addressing our guests, I acknowledged the reality, as is my way. I said that yes, we had the audacity to stand up to this harsh reality that had become our life, and continued forward with our plan. Our plan was to love each other. Our plan was to commit to each other. Our plan was to take each day as a gift, and let go of those things we had no control of.
After Michael died, September 13, 2009, I learned that I had more letting go to do. My initial few months were spent in the darkest of places, and it was a time that I wanted to let go of everything in my life. I was in such overwhelming pain, and life just didn't seem worth it. I learned to hate the phrase that "time heals," but I have learned that it is true. Time heals, because you become familiar with the pain of loss. It doesn't go away, you just begin to see it as a life companion.
I have now lived for 5 months as a widower. In these 5 months I have been learning once again about letting go. I have needed to let go of how I saw myself. I am now a changed person. I have needed to let go of what grounds me, what feeds me and what brings me joy. All of these aspects of my life have changed. There are in fact many aspects of my life that are different. It is a hard lesson to learn when you lose someone so central to your life. There is that part of you that refuses to accept the reality. You cling to what you had with all your might. Yet, in time you begin to see that this is getting you no where. I can cling to Michael all I want, but that doesn't change the fact that he is gone. I can refuse to like what life has given me, but that will not change what I wake up to tomorrow.
Not so long ago Michael's mother and I began the process of sorting through Michael's things. In my grieving, I have had to sort out that which feeds me, and that which hold me back. I have to decide what I am ready to let go of, and what I plan to always keep. This is not a simple process. There is no set time table that all the widowed can follow. We each deal with our loss individually. For myself, I need to begin the next phase of letting go. I need to acknowledge that which is difficult to let go of, and that which I am ready for. I need to push myself, but gently. I don't want to get stuck, but I don't want to move too fast.
Sometimes I feel that others around me are surprised at how life changing this has been for me. Sometimes I feel that they would be more comfortable knowing that I was moving forward with my life. I am keenly aware that I am likely projecting some of my own fears and worries to those around me. What I can say to them, or myself, is that change is happening. Sometimes the changes are very subtle, and sometimes they are announced right here in this blog. Some days I may appear to be doing well, but am secretly drowning in my grief. There are times when I feel the need to present better than I am. Sometimes, I have no control over how I present to others.
In my talk with Michael this weekend, I was asking him if he is still aware of me. I was asking if he could see my pain. I needed to know if I was truly alone, or just alone in the physical sense. I would love to report that he spoke to me, but if that is possible, it is not really an experience I am open to. I know what is best for me. I need to feel this pain, and I need to express it. I don't allow myself to mask what I am feeling, as it wouldn't serve me in the end. I have to feel what it is that I am letting go of. I have to constantly be searching within so as to understand what it is that I am grieving in that moment. This past weekend I was not so much grieving that I was alone without Michael on Valentine's Day, more that I was having to once again feel the letting go of a future I previously had a good grasp on.
Letting go is never easy. Letting go was easier when I was experiencing it with Michael. Now is my time to continue letting go on my own.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Rare Valentine from Dallas, Texas
Originally uploaded by crowt59
I was just going through some old email, and saw the original email that I had sent you with this video. It wasn't long after you and I started dating that the kids and I had seen this video on Logo. The kids only knew you as Mike, and I don't think they had even met you yet. They just knew that I was smitten by a guy named Mike. This video came on and they had a good time teasing me about "I Like Mike."
You know honey, I fell in love with you right away. When we met I knew that we would end up together. It's funny thinking back, because I wasn't out looking for you. I was already casually dating someone, and was just out to have a night out by myself, and take a break from the kids. There you were. We spent the whole night out together, dancing, drinking, laughing, talking and kissing. We traded emails for the next couple of days, then went out on our first official date. It was wonderful. I came home, and ended the relationship with the other guy. That's how sure I was.
I know that our friends and family think that our meeting was destiny. We were meant to be together. I don't like to think of our time together as being destined to end so soon, although I do go there sometimes. I can't help it. What I prefer to think about is our being destined to live out the rest of your life together. I do believe that I was meant to love you, and that you were meant to love me. I also believe that God chose me to take care of you, and I loved every minute of it.
Michael, I am missing you so much tonight. It hurts. It hurts me to my core. You have been gone for five months now, and I'm not sure how I'm supposed to react at this point. Most days are easier to handle than in past months, but if I let down my guard, like tonight, the sobbing takes hold of me. It becomes uncontrollable.
Is it true, that we grieve as much as we loved? I don't know Michael. I don't know what to believe. Do you miss me? You used to tell me that you would miss me when you were gone. You meant that you would miss me after you died. Do you? Are you aware of me? I often wonder if I am going through this alone, or are you going through this as well.
I feel as though I am going to make myself mad. Not angry, mad. All those initial feelings of loss are brewing below the surface again. They make me feel as though I don't want to chose sanity. My heart cannot make sense of all this tonight. It is being flooded with so many thoughts and emotions. It is trying to mend, but tonight I feel the stitches that hold it together beginning to give way to heartache once again. I don't like this. I'm not going to indulge in wishing that I still had you with me. I know that wishing for things like that no longer serve me well. I need to wish for peace, for acceptance, and for grace. I hope you are happy where ever you are. I hope that your soul is smiling, if that is even possible. I know that perhaps you are in a place, or state of being, where my words no longer have meaning. I just hope that the essence of my message is being communicated with you.
I love you Michael. Be happy. Be at peace.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Well, let's recap the week, or at least the last few days. We went from me not running away from problems, carefully examining the after effects of grief on my body, to my lack of sex, with Michael, or anybody else for that matter.
Where do we go from here? I suppose there are only two directions to choose from, further outward, or further within. Most of my posts deal with my inner stirring and emotions. So to keep things interesting I suppose we should stay outside my mind for just a bit more. But where to turn? Hmmn.
I have carefully navigated myself away from discussing this weekends holiday pressures. No, I'm not talking about the emotionally loaded Presidents Weekend. 'Ol Abe and George will do fine without my assistance, and they offer me nothing of interest today. Although I remember as a kid, me and my two cousin, making Abe Lincoln and George Washington cards, and going door to door to sell them. There were not a great success then, and I don't expect to be flooded with requests to write about the effects of the prior presidents on my state of grieving today.
So, I suppose the holiday I should be addressing today, or real soon, is that of St. Valentine. The history of this saint, and the origins of this holiday, are both quite vague. So rather than do my usual 'wikipedia moment' I am going to gloss right over this and move on the the lay person's experience of the holiday. I give you a valentine, you give me a valentine, we both have good feelings. Yeah, right.
First off, I did my important sending of flowers to my parents, and to Michael's mother. My duties as a loving, and appreciative son, are completed. -check
Next, I needed to come up with something, perhaps some candy, to give to each of my kids on Valentine's day. This is something I have always done with them. I know that the holiday is supposed to be about romantic love, but since they have the tradition of exchanging cards at school, I have always had a small 'love gift' for each of my kids on the holiday. I stopped by a store on my way home yesterday. -check
While at the store I bought myself, and Michael, a small bouquet of white tulips. I put them in our bedroom, next to the electronic frame with an assortment of our pictures. -check
I have my brother, his wife, and twin 6 year olds, visiting us from southern California. So far we are having a fun, enjoyable weekend. This will definitely help me get through the holiday with little melt down. A pleasant distraction. -check
I know where to find the valentines I previously received from Michael so that I can re-read his sentiments on Sunday morning. -check
I thank God for the gift that Michael was to me. I thank God for every wonderful moment that I was blessed with to have Michael. I thank God for bringing Michael into my life, and for entrusting me with the task of preparing him to leave this world. -check
I thank Michael for giving me his heart. I thank Michael for his love. -check
Where does that leave me. I have done all my preparations for the holiday, and I expect it go by without a hitch. If it were so simple, right? For those of us who are grieving, the little things in life, those small occasions that would otherwise be a fleeting thought, become much more significant. Every day has the potential to spark some kind of memory of day's gone by with our deceased spouses. Valentines Day will be a loaded one for most of us. And, like many of my peers, this will be my first Valentine's Day without Michael. It is Saturday afternoon, and I am already feeling the emotions creep up on me.
I have just become aware that I have moved my thoughts deep within myself, oh well, so much for looking outward. I want this day to go by, but I also want to spend some time of it alone with my thoughts of Michael. I need to come up with some ritual action that will feel significant to me. I remember last year's Valentine's Day very clearly. While we were celebrating this day of romance, I was very aware of a friend who had recently lost her husband. I tried to imagine how she must have been feeling. I didn't want others to be celebrating without being aware of her loss, or the loss of other caregivers I had come to know through my online support group. I remember sending out an email reminding others to keep the widows in mind during this potentially emotional holiday. I suppose I was also quite aware that this year I could likely have joined their ranks.
Well, here I am. Michael has been gone now for exactly 5 months. It was on this day, in September, at 6:05 am that my heart was eternally broken. I held his face in my hands, and had my mouth pressed against his. I could tell by his breathing that he was about to take his final breathe. I firmly kissed his mouth, and as he exhaled his last breathe, I took it all in. I like to think that his spirit passed through me on it's way out. I also like to think that sediments of his spirit remain embedded within my lungs. I now breathe for two. I now speak for both of us. I carry on with my life, with Michael always being near, and within me.
After Michael died I walked upstairs to my kitchen, for what reason I do not know. But it is there that I let go of my control. I began screaming out loud. My children came running in to hold me and share in my grief. We all huddled there together, crying out loud. When enough time had passed I went back downstairs, showered, then asked to be alone with Michael. I washed his body, and carefully dressed him. It was my responsibility to finish the care needed. I remember being very calm during these actions. I was quiet, but talking to him in my mind. He looked so peaceful. I loved him so much, and continue to.
Looking back on that day five months ago, I feel so honored to have been part of Michael's life. I loved him with all of my heart. I loved him with all of my body. And I hope to one day be reunited with him in soul.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Male Nude 2
Originally uploaded by Denise_
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Originally uploaded by dromidror
Okay, so now that we all have a good understanding of the current state of my body, let's move on to something a bit more interesting. Well, before we move on let me say this, while I wanted to share how grief can take it's toll on us physically, I meant for it to be shared with humor. I love humor, even in tough, difficult times. And if putting my ass out on the line (figuratively) helps, well then that is where my ass will be found. I don't want you all to think that I obsess about this, or that I hate my body, because I don't. I like who I am, give or take a few choice parts. But, I have to remind myself to show it some appreciation now and then, because nobody else is going to. I think I should plan some kind of self-pampering night. You know, wine and dine it. Who knows? I might get lucky!