Friday, April 9, 2010

Visceral Calmness

Nature . 自然 . Sea . Solitude (Les Eaux Noires)
Originally uploaded by

It's 3:31 on a beautifully sunny Friday afternoon. I should be at work, but instead have been home most of the week with my youngest son, whose emotional challenges have gone beyond the limits of what his school can handle right now. A little medication fine tuning, a new IEP (individualized educational plan) that adds a higher level of behavioral support at school, and an offering to the gods, and hopefully he will be back in school next week.

Throughout the week everyone that I come across has asked how I am managing. I mean everywhere I go. Am I missing something? I have felt okay most of the week. Am I in denial, or out of touch with my reality?

It would seem that given the ongoing demands of parenting children with special needs, and now being an adult with special needs (today's description of a lonely widower) I am doing fairly well. I haven't been feeling overwhelmed. I haven't been falling into the depths of my grief, and my mood has for the most part been calm and steady.

For a good part of this afternoon, I have been sitting quietly. I have been aware of my surroundings, which is my home, with various entrances, and exits on the part of the kids. Each of the kids have required my focus, and each has needed some guidance to meet their day's goals, and my level of mood has needed to fluctuate throughout the day. (read sometimes a quiet reminder, other times a stronger direct critique of their behavior) Yet with each of these distractions I have made a concerted effort to return to my calm.

It has all been a good exercise in my ability to recognize the calm within. It is a good place to be in. It is neither good nor bad. It is neither happy or sad. What it is for me I suppose, is a place where I can experience my day, and all my thoughts, with a deeper, gentle spirit. It is allowing me to think of what I have enjoyed about my week, and what has been challenging.

Because this has been a calm week for me, I have been able to experience my loss in a different way as well. It has provided me with a safe place to explore my visceral memories of Michael. How I felt when he looked at me. What my reactions were to his gaze, or his smile. As I look at pictures of him, I am focused on the ones that I took of him. I am studying his face, and his body language, as he stands there before me.

I am recognizing Michael's look of desire. I am remembering Michael's look of heart felt love. I see his look of concern. I can feel the warmth that emanates from his presence back to me. At times during the past 6 months, I was in too much pain to even attempt to explore these thoughts. Today especially, I have been focused on my memories of his touch. Of how his breath felt against my neck and face at night. About what his scent was like, and how it could feed me.

These simple details are now part of my being. They are memories I have stored within my body. I have only to seek calmness to access them. It is a very comforting realization.

I am beginning to answer my own question.

When Michael died, I sat for many days asking out loud, "where did you go?" I needed some logic to explain what I was experiencing, which was a lack of his presence. I am finding that rather than look beyond me, and beyond the world that I am part of, I should be looking within.

I have Michael here within me. I can access my visceral memories of him whenever I need them. Or, at least I can attempt to access them. I'm sure it will not always be as easily accessible as today. Yet, if I strive for a visceral calmness, then I will have my experiences of Michael within my reach.


  1. Your post has soothed and calmed me this morning. As I read your descriptions about remembering Michael's looks, I closed my eyes and remembered all of Austin's looks and subtle nuances which I hadn't thought a lot about lately. I wish I could permanently record them for a time when I don't recall them as easily. But something tells me that they are imprinted on my soul and are now part of who I am.

    Thank you Dan, for extending your calm mood all the way to me in Canada. I sure needed that. Have a good day.

  2. I hope you have a recording of Michael's voice. That is what I miss most and can no longer remember--the sound of their voice and laughter.

  3. It's funny that now that I am at this point in life, meaning without Michael, I wonder why I didn't record him. What I do have is only one dvd recording, which is our wedding. I have only watched it a few times, as I become a complete mess when I do. But, in the brief moments of him saying his vows, or giving a toast, I can see and feel all of the nuances that made him unique and special.