Thursday, March 11, 2010

Message to Michael

reach out
Originally uploaded by
Chat in the Hat

My Dear Michael,

I am missing you very much tonight. I was going through some of your clothing, trying to decide which items to include in a quilt I'm having made for your mother. I was taking individual shirts out of the closet, touching them and inhaling your scent. As I do things such as this I am well aware of the cost. At the moment it doesn't matter, I just want some kind of connection to you. I was able to pick some for the quilt, then picked two that I will keep forever with me.

The moment I put the shirts back in the closet my tears began. It seemed to then unleash a hunger in me to reach out to you. At the same time it is like a bad drug, pulling me down a path I know will only lead to pain. I stood there looking at myself in the mirror, watching the pain develop in my face. I could see the strain in my expression, then my eyes welling up with a flood of tears, flowing down my cheeks. I walked around our room, searching for something, needing to take myself back to six months ago. What was I doing on this night? Did I know that there would only be one more night with you?

I went over next to our bed, and just sat on the floor. It seems that when my pain is at it's worst I need to be on the ground. Thank god we put in carpet, as I had a soft and warm place to rest. I reached out in front of me, knowing what I would find. It was the book that I wrote in during your last two weeks of life. I wrote every single dose of medication I gave to you. I wrote every symptom of your disease, of your pain, of your suffering. I looked at the small notations, who I called for advice, what I should do if the medication didn't soothe you. I now wonder if I gave you enough. Why didn't I write more than I did?

Again dear, I know that going down that path is not good for me. It is all so painful. But then again, I also have a need to validate your suffering, to remind myself of all you went through. I don't want you to ever feel that you were alone in any of it. I hope you knew I was there every minute of it. I hope that even when you were unable to speak, unable to move, unable to see, that you knew I was there.

Michael, I love you so much. It was so hard to let you go, but I knew that I had no right to hold you back. For some reason God had made a decision for you, and I suppose I have to accept that I am never going to fully understand why.

I called your mother today while I was at work. I just needed to hear her voice, and to once again feel the connection to you. I found that once we were talking I didn't want to hang up. She asked how I was doing, and I told her that life is such a struggle. I told her that I can't stop needing you, and searching for you. In the past I have found myself holding back from expressing my grief so candidly with her, as I didn't want to make this any more painful for her than it already is. But today I needed to let her know how difficult my life is without you. She told me that she often thinks about how much more difficult this must be for me, as you were with me daily, and now every day is a reminder that you are gone. There is never the luxury of pretending that you are just somewhere else.

I'm going to stop now. I am going to just lay here in silence, and allow myself to feel what I need to feel. I am going to welcome you to be present to my love, and to my sorrow.

I am forever yours.



  1. Dan, i pray this beautiful letter was a little cathartic. i would like to say a few small things. first, i believe it is necessary to face the little things that bring us to tears. we need to face each thing, each moment and fully feel it to get through it. it is my belief that in letting yourself experience the grief in all the ways it presents itself will give you the control of it later as the road takes you along. right now, at 6 months, you are still so close and so raw. still in a shock as it were. i know you are doubting yourself so believe me, and all those who will comment after me. we will be kind to you for you because right now, doubts are part of the path.

    second, from reading your daily writings, there is no doubt in my mind that you gave and did everything you have and could to and for Michael. he knows of your great and enduring love. while you have to sit the floor, i am sure his first thought was, "so glad we put in carpet." and then all his sympathy and love poured out onto you. and that is where your closing came from. you stopped writing to "just lay in the silence" and welcomed Michael "to be present to my love, and to my sorrow."

    you did all you could. there was never time enough to say all we wanted to say to them. nor them to us. he loves you forever. i deeply believe all that, for you, for me, for all of us who grieve.

    i keep you in my heart. peace.

  2. Im so sorry Daddy. I knew last nite something was wrong but i didnt know if i should go downstairs or just leave you be. I fell asleep before reading your post. i wish i couldve been there better. i love you. maybe tonite i can be there to hug you. see you tonite

  3. Dan,
    After reading your post and wNs's reponse, I have nothing more to say. Her eloquent writing is so beautiful and so true. I've been where you are, laying on the floor after going through some clothes, and I know I'll be there again when I start to pack his clothes away in a couple of weeks. Your and Michael's love was obviously a powerful force and love remains to carry us through.

    Sending you more love and hugs,
    May you have a peaceful weekend,
    Love Deb

  4. I looked at the small notations, who I called for advice, what I should do if the medication didn't soothe you. I now wonder if I gave you enough. Why didn't I write more than I did?

    This is all so familiar to me. I sometimes think of Don's last few weeks and have questions, concerns, uncertainties, regrets. The last evening when the doctors asked if they could step down the ventilator to let Don die, I felt like a traitor for agreeing even though I saw the CT of his lungs now entirely filled with cancer. It is still painful for me to think of it, even though the doctors were telling me that it wasn't my decision to make anymore.. that the cancer had taken that responsibility away from me. Still I worry and feel sad, especially as Don's pulse and breathing would become a little stronger and more stable every time I spoke to him, even through the sedation. When I stopped speaking, the pulse and breathing would drop to almost nothing. I told him that as soon as it was over at the hospital, I would take him away from "this place" and we would travel everywhere we always wanted to travel. His pulse quickened until I ceased talking. In the end, I just held him and let him go.. but I still feel a some guilt. Did I lie to him when I told him we would go away as soon as it was over. Does it count that he travels in a box of ashes? Was it so terrible that I promised these things to comfort him at the end? I don't really know -- but have pondered over all of this. Why was I, why were we, ever put in the position of having to make these decisions - how much pain medication to give, whether to increase some heart pill, whether to make a promise at the end? Why us? How were we supposed to know what to do? It's all tiring stuff to think about, and in truth, gets us nowhere. We did what we thought was best for that moment in time. We are still doing what we think best. It's just difficult. There's no owner's manual for caring for someone with terminal cancer, or for carrying on alone. We must try to be kind to ourselves. We did our best. We did our best.

  5. I am so glad that you and Michael's mom can talk and be there for one another in the ways you can. Your talking with his mom is indeed a continuing connection to Michael. I hope that your interaction with her continues and expands.

    I appreciate Bev's wise counsel that we must try to be kind to ourselves and that we did out best. I think all of us so much need to acknowledge that, whatever our circumstances. I used to always tell my counseling clients, "You did the best you could with the information and experience you had at the time." And that really is a pretty amazing feat when I can step back and think about it.