Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lonely. I'm Mr. Lonely.

Lonely Man
Originally uploaded by

This is going to be the second post I have written tonight. The first was a post that has been lurking in the back of my mind since that ill fated day that we loaded up the u-haul to move. I won't spill any of the details here, but you will see from the title of the post that it was a day not without problems. The post has been dated July 17th, and is called Nightmare on Roscoe Street.


Today has felt like a quiet, introspective day. I got up early, 6 am. I did my morning yoga, then did some reading online. Eventually I made my way downstairs to feed the animals, and take our dog Ranger for a short walk. The boys were wanting to just stay in and play with their Playstations. I thought about demanding that they go with me to a movie, as once out they usually have a good time. Instead I went off by myself. I used to love seeing films by myself, but these days it can feel kind of lonely. I still had a good time, but hoped there might be a way to interact with people afterward. In San Francisco people sometimes engaged in conversations after viewing one of these independent films. Not here. Not today at least. You know, I haven't met any neighbors yet. Not one. The only person who introduced himself was the mail carrier, and now I don't remember his name.

After the film I came home and did some work in the yard. The owners had left some outdoor plants in the kitchen when I first arrived. I decided that I would plant these out front, but the earth was too dry and hard. I took out the hose, and watered all of the front yard. I then went to the back, which is a huge canyon of a yard, and did the same. If I choose to stay here I would like to do some planting, but will need to see if I can get the sprinkler system working. It seems a shame to have so much interesting space, but to have nothing but dry dirt everywhere. I really miss my garden. I'm tempted to start a new small urban garden out of my deck.

Later this evening I made dinner for the boys and me. It was only the second time that I have actually cooked since we arrived. With all of the chaos, and workers around, I haven't felt comfortable cooking in the kitchen until now. I also spent some time cleaning the living room and the boys bathroom. I was supposed to have someone clean the house today, but it had to be rescheduled. The house cleaning was going to be done by the wife of the handy man, while he finished the shower replacement. They will be coming by on Monday, but I felt like I couldn't live in the space with so much dust anymore. I also wanted the boys to have a clean bathroom for the weekend.

Eventually I made my way up to my room, and have spent a good amount of time sitting in my chair looking off to the downtown skyline. It is a beautiful view from my bedroom, yet it also gives me somewhat of a lonely feel. I sit here looking out at all the bright lights of the city, wondering what everybody is up to. I feel like I am sitting up high in a tower, kept away from those who have a life. Maybe us widows and widowers are meant to be on the fringe of society for awhile. I hope it's not a life sentence, as I would like to feel connected once again.

Tomorrow morning I will go back to the Men's Yoga, and be part of a group. My first time out was such a positive experience. It really helped me feel in tune with my whole being, and in some way in tune with the other men in the room. There wasn't much interaction afterward though. It seemed that everyone was in a hurry to leave. That was on a Tuesday night, which ended at 10pm, so maybe tomorrow morning's session will end differently. I would like to make friends with some guys that have similar interests as I do.

I guess there is no denying it. I am lonely. Lonely for him.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Peace Comes From Within. Do Not Seek It Without.

Originally uploaded by

What an interesting 24 hours I have had. Yesterday the boys and I spent the day at the beach, along with some very special friends. One of those was my best friend Peg, who lives in Connecticut. She and I have been best of friends since we were 12 years old. After the day at the beach, my daughter and I joined the same group for a dinner down in the Gaslamp District of Downtown San Diego. It is a very vibrant part of the city, with lots of bright lights, restaurants and stores. Then it was back to home, writing my post, which was lost, and succumbing to a return engagement of my deep cutting sorrow.

I kew that the pain would find it's way to me sooner or later. I had begun to wonder if I had left the deep well of grief back at my old house. Since arriving here in San Diego I have felt some emotional distance from the rawness of my grief. But as I shared yesterday, I sensed a change last night. What was a bit strange, was that it kind of felt like a dream. My sorrow had somewhat of a surreal quality, maybe because it kind of just took a hold of me so quickly, and so deeply. By the morning I realized that my wedding ring was back on my ring finger. It hasn't been there since April I think. I usually keep it next to Michael's wedding ring, and both sit right next to his urn. I finally took it back off when it was time to get to my yoga lesson. I'm not exactly sure why I decided it needed to come back off, but I placed it back with Michael's.

I'm really coming to understand yoga as a different form of meditation. It combines my mind, body and spirit through each movement and breath. There is definitely an exercise component to it, but mostly I feel so in tuned with my whole being when doing it. There is also such a graceful quality to yoga. Even with clumsy yogis like myself. When I left my instructors home, I felt one with my world, and quite peaceful.

Then I arrived home.

Chaos. Utter chaos. The workers were back, but they were doing more than what I was told they would be doing. My kitchen sink had been taken apart, and it appeared that they were installing a new faucet. What was wrong with the old one? Who ordered a new faucet? Who gave you permission to come into my house to do this? And, why does it appear to have been taken apart and abandoned? There was a larger pile of trash in the front of the house, and the owner was unloading something, and apparently had the workman with him. Well, the proverbial shit hit the fan. I became completely irate. I called the management and demanded that she come to my house. Unfortunately for her, she received all of my pent up anger, and all I could see was red. We had a scheduled meeting set for tomorrow morning, but we were going to hash this out immediately. I went into all of my frustration over the ongoing problems that had ensued since my arrival two weeks ago. I stated that I expected a refund of the payment I made for the week prior to my arrival, and asked that I be further compensated for the lack of full use of the home during the past two weeks. I also gave verbal notice that I planned to terminate the lease and look for other housing. She asked if we could work this out, and that she hoped I would give them a chance, as the work should be done tomorrow. I explained that at this point I can't trust those words, as everyday has led to further problems. I stated that I didn't want anyone else knocking at my door to discuss matters of the house. That I want to know in advance if any work needs to be done, and when it is estimated to be completed. I don't want to talk to anyone but her, and would expect that she would be aware of any further work to the house that will affect the boys and me. I then said I would give it one more week to see if things actually do change.

After she left I took the time to talk to the actual workers that were in my house. I explained that I was not angry at them, as they have been very kind. I wanted them to know that I appreciate their hard work, but that I should not have had to deal with so many problems, with nobody around to deal with the issues each day. We coordinated a time tomorrow when everything will be done, and I expect to finally have full control, and privacy, in this expensive house that I am renting.

So for those of your reading, who thought that this move was going so smoothly for me, well here is the reality. There have definitely been some benefits to the move. I know it was the right decision, and that my outlook is much better than when I was employed, and living in the home that I owned. Yet life keeps reminding me that I am not the one in control. All I can do is choose how to respond to it. Today was definitely not one of my prouder moments of Handling Stress 101. I still have so much pent up anger at the world. I am still so angry that Michael was taken away from me, and that there was nothing I could do about it.

I hate to admit it, but I have to eat my own words. There was nothing I could do about the fact that Michael was given a death sentence when he was diagnosed with his brain tumor, but I did make a choice in how to respond to it. I have to remember that I responded by loving the hell out of him. I fought back at the cancer every waking moment. Then when I could see that I was losing him, I embraced his final days, and made them the most loving and peaceful days I could give him. I loved that man, and he loved me back. Now I sit here, in another city, in another home, surprised that the anger is back. I don't want to be that angry person all the time. I want to find peace with this. I want peace to find me.

I have to remember the words that are tattooed on my arm, "Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without." I am seeking peace in my life, and I need to constantly be nurturing that peace within while I'm on this journey.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


48/365 *Delete* *Pause/Break*
Originally uploaded by

Well, I just accidentally deleted a post that I had began writing. Now I feel very uninspired to begin again.

Let's just say that my day was better than yesterday. I stayed out of the house almost all day and night.

Tomorrow morning I will be starting my day off with another private yoga lesson, and take it from there.

My missing Michael is starting to creep up on me. I feel like I might be entering a difficult time. Nothing too serious, just a feeling like there is something different in the air.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Primal Scream

Day 93 - Primal Scream
Originally uploaded by
Dark and Broody

Whatever sense of inner peace I thought I had been moving toward just came to an abrupt head on collision with the chaos around me.

Since the day after I arrived here in San Diego, I have had to deal with workers in and out of the house that I rented, and workers beginning significant work on the unit below mine. I thought I was handling all the noise and interruption well, then tonight I realized that I am now fed up with it all. I have yet to have a day without some workers in the house. I can't even enjoy time in our living room due to all the noise around us, or below us, that goes from early afternoon until late in the evening.

Well, it has now been 10 days since my arrival, and the shit has hit the fan. I am no longer willing to be inconvenienced without compensation. I thought I had found a place to seek solace, and spend time with my writing. I can't even hear myself think with all the noise and interruptions. I didn't realize just how much this was getting to me until tonight, when I was trying to have a serious conversation with my 16 year old, and I had workers going in and out of the house at 7:45 pm. I finally turned to them and asked if they could please leave, and plan to be out of here no later than 7pm any future night. The problem was, they then went downstairs to work, and proceeded to begin sawing wood, and drilling something. The noise was ridiculously loud. I got fed up, and took the boys out for a late meal. When we returned at 9pm, the workers were finally packing up their things to leave.

This is definitely not how I imagined my first couple of weeks in our new home. The boys and I have been trying to figure out why the house hasn't felt like a home. We have been talking about the fact that we don't hang out in the living room together like we did in San Francisco. I initially thought is was because we didn't have the cable T.V. set up for the first week. Yet, once we did get it, we realized there was so much noise and chaos going on around us, that we didn't want to be in the main part of the house. The boys escape to their bedrooms, each with one of the pets with them so they don't dart out the door each time the workers enter or exit. And I am either upstairs trying to find some quiet, or working in and around the workers, trying to make meals or clean up the house.

I just want to scream. Maybe I need to seek out some primal scream therapy.

I have decided to take formal steps to correct this situation, or to break my lease and look for other housing. I don't need this type of living environment. It's really unfortunate, as we really like the house and the location. But, enough is enough. The stress of the situation is starting to effect the behavior of the boys, and effect my ability to address their behavior in a calm manner. Even our pets are beginning to act out, as they are so stressed by the chaos, and their lack of freedom to move about the house.

As my daughter pointed out to me tonight, in a little over a month I will be reaching the one year anniversary of Michael's death. It will be difficult enough to get through that time in a peaceful place, let alone in all this chaos.

Time to speak up. Time to make some decisions.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mens Yoga-Balancing Act

Originally uploaded by

A late night entry, and trying to get this post written under the wire.

Tonight I participated in my first yoga group. Prior to this has been my one individual lesson, followed by my morning and evening yoga routines for the past five days. I decided that there was no time like the present to jump right in and join the group.

I am hooked. The group I participated in was a group of about 10 men. Our mats were all aligned in a circle, with a single candle in the middle for focus. It was strenuous. It was graceful. It was spiritual. It was a challenge.

I found that there is definitely strength in numbers. When I have been doing my daily yoga routines here at home, I find that I don't push myself anywhere near as far as I am challenged to go in a group setting. Tonight's session was almost 90 minutes long. My stamina, and agility, was better than I expected. My ability to balance myself, not so good.

I find this kind of funny actually, and quite telling. I have always been considered a strong person. I am strong willed, and strong in perseverance. Yet, like many others, I have never been really good at creating balance. And isn't that always the ultimate goal? I find that trying to create a balance in my life is much like these insane yoga poses. Easier said than done.

When your yogi says "now standing on both feet, try to create balance. Shift your weight over to you right leg. Slowly lift your left leg by gradually moving your left food up your right leg. Allow your left foot to sit against the side of your right knee. Once you have your sense of balance, raise both arms up above your head, and slowly down together in front of you in a Namaste position."

Well, lets just say I didn't give up. And for parts of this, for very brief moments, I found my source of balance. It was fleeting, but while I had it, I felt wonderful. In looking around the room, we pretty much ran the gamut. Some were struggling, like me, others seemed to find this balance with little effort. Like the rest of my life, I'm going to consider this portion of my yoga practice a work in progress. Yet no matter how wobbly I might be, in the end I felt in complete union with the group. And with time, I am feeling more in union with the rest of humanity.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Week Two

number 2
Originally uploaded by Andy Biesemeyer

Okay, so not the best of days. I've had some trouble with the house that I'm renting. There have been many small problems, which keep adding up. Much of my time has been trying to address these issues, and being home so the hired help can have access to my house while fixing the downstairs unit. It's getting me frustrated.

I learned today that I didn't get the job that I thought I had wanted. I'm kind of in a strange place right now. Not meaning San Diego, more like a strange state of mind. I'm disappointed that I didn't get offered the job, but am grateful that I didn't have to make any decisions about taking it. I'm really enjoying the idea of not working. I haven't completely gotten into the groove of living a life of leisure, as most of my time is still spent unpacking and needing to be around the house. I'm hoping that by the end of this week I should be ready to relax a bit more, and start mapping out my week a little better. After dropping my son off at his Jiu Jitsu class this afternoon, I realized that the nearby Buddhist Center was having a Monday night series of classes that look quite interesting. The timing didn't work today, but I put my son on notice that starting next week he will need to get back on the bus. I'm also planning on attending a group yoga class tomorrow evening, and want to do this group a few times a week. Then as soon as the sun starts coming out a bit more, the boys and I will begin our transformation into beach bums.

My plan to discontinue sleeping medication has gone very well. Well, maybe not very well, as I wake up a lot during the night. This is a kink I'm going to need to work out. My next step is getting off my anxiety medication. You see, I am quite a pharmaceutical reps dream. These past few years really took their toll on my health. Trying to manage Michael's illness, and the three kids' special needs, plus a stressful job, made for one stressed out, depressed and chronically migraine challenged Dan. The headaches have been gone for over a month now. The stress is better managed, and the medication has been cut in half. I'm hoping to be off of it completely by next week. And no, I'm not doing this under a doctor's care. I know, I know, but this is how I have chosen to do this.

Once my youngest starts his camp next week, I will be focusing on being more social. Hopefully I will meet some nice people through the yoga groups, and go from there. Also, in less than two weeks I will be participating in Camp Widow, which is coincidentally right here in San Diego. And even though the hotel is probably only five minutes way from my home, I have kept my reservation. I want to immerse myself in it, and enjoy my time getting to know all my brother and sister widows.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Starbucks free day.

Well, after drinking myself into caffeine oblivion, I finally have Internet access here in my own home. I'm going to miss my late night coffee and treats at Starbucks. I'm going to miss closing the place down. One thing I learned about coffee houses is that they don't announce "last call for coffee." They just come by and say they are closing in three minutes.

It's been a nice couple of days. I drove to visit my parents and immediate family yesterday. I really enjoyed being with all of my brothers, their wives and kids, and sitting around talking and laughing. It was very good medicine. I then raced home because my cousin was coming by to drop off Michael's car. I have missed having his car around. I actually got to drive it today, as I went to an 80th birthday party for my best friend's father. Again, a wonderful time. There were so many old friends there from high school. I was enjoying just talking about the past, and filling in a couple of people about the present.

It is so clear to me what a gift all these people are in my life. Even those that I haven't seen for some twenty years, are just so loving and wonderful. Time apart doesn't change good friendships. They are still there. I know that's how I will feel about my friends in San Francisco. I will miss them so much, but I know that I will always have them in my life.

I recognized this weekend, that it is getting easier to socialize. I am able to enjoy myself, and to also speak about Michael with a developing acceptance. I currently do not feel over wrought with pain when thinking, or speaking, of him. I can actually speak of my loss, and speak of my love, for him, and feel okay. I am also able to zip around in his cute little convertible, with the top down, and know that he would be smiling at me. It's a good feeling, knowing what we had, and knowing that he wanted this for me.

Several people gave me really good feedback tonight. They acknowledged my losing Michael, and also respected the choice I made to change my life. Being that this is the first night that I have the Internet, it allows me the opportunity to sit here on my bed, and reflect on the changes I have made for myself.

I sit here, on top of a hill, looking out my bedroom window, and see the beautiful skyline of downtown San Diego. I'm in a home that is so different from my prior home. It is warm, and sunny. I have no job, so I can do what ever I choose to do. I get up every morning around 6am, and do my morning yoga. I end each night doing my evening yoga. My life has slowed down significantly. I can feel what ever I want to feel. I can be what ever I want to be. It's all mine for the choosing. I feel so fortunate.

Three months ago I wanted my life to end. I couldn't see any point continuing a life that didn't include Michael, especially one that felt so incredibly painful. I felt trapped in the life that I had, which only served as a reminder to what I had lost. Nothing felt worth the effort. I had lost any passion for living, and could not see life getting any better.

Oh what a difference a single decision makes. My advice to others is this, don't wait until you lose someone like I did before you start living the life you crave. If you tell yourself that you can't possible make a change, then take a second look. There has to be a way to effect some change. If there is something out there that can bring you the possibility of happiness, then make it happen.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sign me up!

It's Friday early evening, and I'm back to Starbucks.

One of the frustrations I have had is not being used to being a renter. There have been several things that needed to be arranged, or repaired, that I am not able to approve, as I am not the owner. This is new territory for me. I am used to being completely in charge, and able to get things done rather quickly. The most frustrating thing has been getting the cable and Internet set up. Nobody appeared for my scheduled appointment this morning. Then when the tech did appear later this afternoon he said he was only there to install the telephone. I said thanks, but no thanks. I have no need for a telephone if there is no Internet. The boys and I have been quite frustrated without our access to the net. Me with my blogging, and they with their gaming, it has been a challenge. It appears that none of us really care much about the television, as we don't seem to watch it much these days.

I was promised that I would be online by Sunday, but I'm not holding my breath. I was able to deal with all of this with a rather peaceful approach. I didn't sleep much again last night, as I am going cold turkey off the sleeping pills. I have always suffered from insomnia. Prior to Michael getting sick I used to require sleeping pills maybe once or twice a week at most. After his diagnosis I required them every night. It has been a long process of needing them for sleep, and now being dependent on them. Now that I am not working I decided it was the perfect time to get myself off them completely. I end up sleeping a few hours a night, and wake up quite early. I was up at 5:30am, listening to a yoga podcast, then doing my morning yoga workout. It was a very nice way to start the day.

My daughter is here spending the day with us, so I took all three kids shopping for summer shorts, something we had little need for in San Francisco. I also found a wonderful Rock Camp for my youngest son, the electric guitar player. It will only last one week, and will require me to sell off most of my possessions to pay for it. They also run this program throughout the school year, which will hopefully be something he can participate in. He is very excited about this.

As for me, I have another private yoga lesson scheduled for next week, and plan to begin attending a couple of group classes this week. I'm also thinking of joining the Frontrunners, which is a gay running group. They meet twice a week for group runs, and also have a group walk for those that need to move slower. I'll hopefully start with the runners, but as time creeps up on me I may need to move to the slower group.

I am becoming quite the joiner, aren't I? Of course it is all a nice distraction. Well, to be fair, it is more than that. It is my new life. I am enjoying it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dinner Out

Ortega's Restaurant
Originally uploaded by

Tonight was my first night out socializing with friends. For many years I have had one of my dearest, sweetest friends living right here in San Diego. When it came time to decide where to live, and to get recommendations for schools, she was the one to call. Tonight was her birthday, so the boys and I join her, her family, and two other families for a birthday dinner out.

I had a really nice time. The new people that I met were very friendly, and showed sincere interest in getting to know us three Cano boys. I suppose everyone might have been informed before my arrival to San Diego about why I was making this move, and there were no questions about my marital status. In some ways this made it for a less stressful evening, yet in other ways it challenges me to consider to what extent I want to include Michael into my new developing friendships. I suppose with time, and with the degree of getting to know new people, I will make choices as to who to let into my more intimate world.

I must say, that yesterday's yoga experience put me into a very introspective mood today. I spent most of the day being quiet, and listening to various podcasts available on iTunes. I liked this quiet space in my head, and felt a sense of peace throughout the day.

Today also marked the day that I decided to unpack Michael's urn, and place it, along with all of the trinkets that honor him, on the book case in my bedroom. I had decided that I didn't want to just put these things out along with all of the other furnishings and personal items throughout the past few days. I wanted the process of including Michael's ashes to be separate, and a process done with great respect and thought. As I opened the box that held his urn, along with all the other items, I took a deep breathe, and caressed the urn in my hands. I let them run across all sides of the urn, giving it a sense of my love and care. Ironically, my daughter showed up a short time afterward with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, along with a note stating her love of me and Michael. It was very thoughtful.

I think Michael would be pleased with the choices that I am making. I miss him terribly. I suppose I am feeling a bit more vulnerable tonight. It was a challenge to be out socially without him. It was easier than expected, but a challenge none the less.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

And stretch...

Power Yoga Video Class Extended Side Angle Pose - Utthita Parsvakonasana
Originally uploaded by myyogaonline

8:55 pm, a new Starbucks.

I'm getting a bit concerned about my coffee intake. Well, not seriously concerned, as I do love a strong cup of coffee. I usually don't drink coffee at night, as I am a serious insomniac. Here's where being unemployed has been quite helpful. I don't have to be up early for anything, so I don't worry about being up too late.

This afternoon's initiation into the world of yoga was a new experience for me. It was a time to begin all that is supposed to be new in my life. So far I have situated my bedroom to be light, and simple. I have chosen to not take too much out of the many boxes that I packed. In fact, my closet is filled with all the boxes that remain full. I have decided that to have a lighter spirit, I must create an environment that is conducive to a lighter perspective.

My yoga lesson was all that I expected, and a little painful more. I was stretching myself in places I never knew were capable of stretching. But isn't that what I am trying to do in general? Stretch myself to experience life in a way that I never expected? Since arriving here in San Diego, I have felt like my grieving process has been put on the back burner. I'm sure it is just a temporary break, as I have been quite busy with unpacking, and arranging furniture. I'm hoping to start taking the time to visit some of of what my new city has to offer. It's not that I don't think about Michael, I do quite a bit. It's just that I'm not feeling my usual sense of despair. What's interesting, is that I don't feel like I have to feel anything right now. The beauty of this new change is that I don't know anybody here, except my kids. Well, I do know a few people, but on a daily basis there is no one looking at me and trying to judge how I am doing with my grief. This is very freeing.

I can already sense all of my family wanting to engage me more into their lives. This is nice, as I am very fond of my family. Yet I also want to be sure to not give away too much right now. I am in a transitional period where I still need, and want, time alone. The time that I have right now is for me. I don't feel the need to fill it, or to make myself busy. Each time I get a call the first thing asked is if I have a job. Why do I need a job? I know that eventually my money will run out, and I will be forced to start looking for work, but for now, just let me be in denial of my financial responsibilities.

You see, I know what it is that I need right now. It's time. Not time for you, or time for work, or time anything in particular. Just time for me. I also want space. That is why I left San Francisco after all, isn't it? I needed a new place to be. It needed to be a place where I felt comfortable, closer to my family, and with lots of open air. If I don't have space, then how will I find the room to stretch? My mind, and my future vision is in need of some stretching. I know that this will not always be a peaceful process, but while it is, I am enjoying it. Stretching my mind might come from places, or people, that I don't expect. I may find myself in new situations, or with new friendships, where I will need to stretch as a person.

So, there I was, sitting, laying, standing, in every imaginable position, being asked to stretch. "Okay, Dan, you are doing well. Now breathe, yes, good. Now stretch. A bit more. Relax. Good." I loved it. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't easy. And, yes, it hurt at times, but doesn't change always hurt a little. The stretches felt good, but there was always that moment when I thought I could go no further, and my instructor would gently make his request, "a bit further Dan, good."

I think I will have some very creative dreams tonight. When I think of all the positions I found myself in this afternoon, my night should be filled with enough characters to fill a wonderful adventurous landscape.


downward facing dog

the bridge

the corpse

the cobra

the warrior

You see, I already have so many new ways to experience my body, and so many ways to stretch my mind.

Oh, and I got cruised at the grocery store!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Originally uploaded by

Another quick trip to the local Starbucks. This time I'm in the Linda Vista part of town, while my son Dante is at his new Jiu Jitsu lessons. Starbucks has become my best friend. Free WiFi provided by AT & T. No, I'm not getting a commission on this, just grateful for the service. I finally got the needed form signed to get the cable and Internet connected to the house I'm renting. The problem is, their first appointment isn't until Friday. Oh well, this is getting me out of the house.

Oh, let me share something with you. On Sunday the kids and I were heading out for a quick trip our storage unit, and the owners of the home came by. They were showing me around the place, and gave me a tour of the complex next door, where I can do my washing, and where I have a parking spot. They currently have their car parked there, which is fine, as Michael's small car is currently in Orange County. I told the owners that I didn't need the space until my car gets delivered to me. They asked what type of car it was, in answering I said, well, it was actually my husband's car, but he died 10 months ago. The wife quickly said yes, I know, I follow your blog. Can you believe it?

Anyway, while sitting here I decided to look up a yoga instructor that teaches at various sites her in my area of San Diego. I booked a private lesson for tomorrow afternoon. I have never done yoga, and I am probably the most inflexible person you will ever meet. Now, if Michael were here he would be joking about how I'm not just physically inflexible, but emotionally as well. Smart ass.

I'm wanting to begin a new practice of meditation, yoga, focused breathing, the whole works. This is going to be the new me. Who knows, I may really like this. If not I could always go in the other direction and start hitting all the local clubs for some late night dancing and partying. Highly unlikely.

Well, my son just called to say he is done with his class early. This means he likely didn't have a good experience. I better go find out what happened.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A healthy dose of change.

The Concept of Change
Originally uploaded by
Kevin Farris

Live from the Hillcrest Starbucks in sunny San Diego....Dan in real time returns.

There is so much to say, with so much frustration during these past few days of not being able to communicate. I have become so dependent on this computer, as it helps me reach out to each of you. Without this connection, I am just so isolated, even in the midst of a large loud crowd.

I have a couple of posts written in my head that will aptly describe the past three days of frantic loading, driving and arriving, but for tonight, I will just talk of the present.

Yesterday I was able to put back together my over sized bed frame. It is a huge double drawered chest bed, with twelve drawers all together. Each time that I have had to unassemble it, I knew that putting it back together would be a test of patience and perseverance. Just by chance, the bedroom only has a power outlet on the left side of the bed, Michael's side. When I got ready to climb into bed at the end of the night, my spot, on the right, was already taken up by my overpriced cat, Carelli. He looked so cozy, and asleep, so I decided that it made more sense to start sleeping on Michael's side. A change.

This afternoon I started unpacking some of the boxes that held all of our bedroom possessions. I quickly realized that I didn't have the same shelving space, and would have to minimize what I chose to display on the shelves. Being that this is a rental, I am also mindful of not putting too many holes in the walls, so I will be limited to a couple of our pictures for hanging. At first this started causing me much distress, but then I told myself to be careful not to try duplicating our bedroom in San Francisco. After all, I am supposed to be embracing change. Right?

The big rub about my new master bedroom was the master bath, complete with two sinks. His & Her? His & His? Either way, my heart dropped. Some how I didn't notice this when I first visited this house, or maybe I did, but it didn't register at the time. Today I struggled with what to put out on the very large vanity. My toiletries, yes. A photo of flowers taken by Michael, yes. Michael's toiletries? At first I started placing all of his things at one of the sinks, then decided to walk out of the bathroom for awhile. I went about unpacking some things downstairs, then returned to the bathroom. I promptly picked up Michael's things, and placed them in a drawer. I can't live in the past. I won't forget him, but I can't set up my daily life with his things laying around as if he were here. Change.

Change is not easy. It is often met with some resistance, and a good share of melancholy. This phase of my life is all about change. It started with a change that was most unwelcome. It was a change that left me lost, and broken inside. Now I am embracing change as a healing property. A healthy dose of change.

Funny, I look in the mirror, and it's still me. I look around me, and it's all changed. I will be patient, and wait for the two to converge.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Arrived in San Diego, and working like mad to get unpacked. I won't have Internet for a while. More later.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Nightmare on Roscoe Street

Originally uploaded by

Hi everyone. This is the first post that I will not be writing in "real time." I had wanted to post a message on the day of our travel, July 17th, but was without internet while on the road. I did have my iPhone, but the messages that it can post only allow for about one sentence. Anyway, the move was so stressful, and I was thinking about what I wanted to write while driving, so I will try to remember. Here goes.

As many of you read in the weeks before my big move, I had been packing many weeks in advance. As the week of the move arrived, I began to feel ahead of schedule, and thought I would have plenty of extra time on my hands. As it turned out this was somewhat true. It was still a busy last week, but not nearly as hectic as one would expect. I was able to go about my business in a leisurely pace.

On Thursday night, July 16th, my cousin Fred flew in from Orange County to help us load up the U-Haul, and drive my car. When he arrived I enthusiastically told him that everything was either in our storage unit, or carefully organized for loading, in my garage. I said that looking at the next day's work, I thought we could maybe finish loading up early, and hit the road a day earlier. I told him that we could pick up the truck around 8am, get to the storage unit, and finish loading those things within a couple of hours. Then the things in the house shouldn't time much time at all, maybe a few hours at most. Maybe we could drive straight through to San Diego, and get there Friday night.

How naive am I?

That next morning I realized that my 16 year old son still had one last day of summer school, and I had told the staff that it would be his last day at their school before the move. So while we really needed his help, I told him he should go ahead and get to school. That left my cousin, my 12 year old son Remy, and I, to get all the morning loading done. We first headed out for coffee, as the coffee pot was already packed of course. So, by the time we started heading toward the U-Haul yard, it was already after 9am.

We arrived at U-haul, and waited for our truck to be brought out. I had rented a 17 foot truck, which was advertised as big enough to move a 2 to 3 bedroom house. Well, I had donated about 10 car loads of my things, so I figured that meant we had only about 2 to 3 bedrooms worth of things. Wrong. First of all, it turned out that the truck said spacious enough for a 1 to 2 bedroom house. Fred and I stood there for the longest time staring into the back of this huge truck. "I think it's big enough." "Well, I wouldn't say it's too small." "Are you sure?" "Are you?" "Yes, it's fine." "Are you nervous about running out of room?" "Well, kind of." "Well, I think it will be fine." "Oh, me too."

We drove straight to the storage unit, which was just around the block. We went up to get the first load, and carefully began carrying things into the back of the truck. Everything seemed so much heavier this time around. We needed to take some time to be sure everything was well organized, and piled high, if we were going to make good use off all the space. With each trip back down from the storage unit, we would look into the truck, and then at each other. "What do you think?" "I think it will be just fine." "How much more stuff is there at the house?" "There's still a lot, but lets keep loading and see when we are done." We finally came down with the last load, and carefully placed everything in an orderly fashion.

"Shit. I don't think there is going to be enough room." "I don't think so either." "What the hell are we going to do?" "I guess we need to go back and request a bigger truck." "Won't it be too big?" "I think so, but what else can we do?" "Your right, let's get it done quickly, the loading took much longer than I thought."

We then made the exchange and had the two trucks parked back to back so we could move everything easily from one truck to the other. When we had first driven in to the U-haul yard there were many Latino men standing at the entrance asking people if they needed workers. As we drove by them we both scanned the crowd. One of them caught my eye, and I turned to Fred to say, "If we need help, he looks kind of strong." Fred laughed, and said he knew that I was going to say that. He agreed that this guy was not the typical type that is out front. He was handsome. I told Fred that maybe we could hire him, but he would have to take his shirt off to help. We both laughed some more.

Well, we opened the back of each truck and took a look at all we needed to transfer. "Fuck. This is going to take us a hell of a long time." "Maybe we should get some help." "Look who's coming this way. It's the cute Latino guy." "Necesita ayuda?" "Si, pero solamente por treinta minutos. Tienes un amigo?" "Si, por tres horas?" "No, treinta minutos. Veinte dolars por trienta minutos." "Okay." These two guys went straight to work. They were moving faster than seemed humanly possible. It was actually kind of funny to see them moving so fast. I looked at Fred, and pointed out that nothing was being organized very well. We decided to just let them load it the way they wanted, and we could reorganize it when we got home. "Are you sure we shouldn't hire the cute Latino guy for a few more hours? He might get hot and sweaty later." "No, Dante will be back from school, and with the boys' help we should do just fine."

When arrived at the house I wondered where we would put this enormous truck. After all, I live on a street with quite an incline. Fortunately the neighbors were home, and they gave us permission to block their driveways for awhile. We got the truck parked and started quickly reorganizing it, and loading things from the garage. It was a lot of work but it seemed to be moving along fine. We realized that we were all very hungry, so Fred and Remy set out to buy us lunch. About this time I realized that all the cars that were previously park across the street had all left. I could move the truck over there, and we would not be blocking any ones driveway. I told Dante to hold off on more loading, as I wanted to move the truck before I lost the parking space.

I started up the engine in the huge 26 foot truck. I could see that the size of this machine had Dante feeling quite intimidated. He didn't want to come near it while the engine was on. I carefully let go of the parking brake, and allowed the truck to slowly move forward. I then looked back, and figured I could just put it in reverse, and back it into the open spot. I took my foot off the brake, and quickly gave it some gas. The truck began moving back at the angle I had planned. "This is easier than I thought." I was almost where I needed it to be when I heard the big 'crack!' Dante came running around the truck. "Dad, you hit the top of the neighbor's tree!" "What tree. I don't see any limb from a tree." "That's because it laying on the street behind the truck." "Shit!"

I figured I didn't have time to worry about the tree at this point. I needed to get the truck over there before someone else took the spot. I told Dante I would drive around the block, then come down the street and park the truck. He could move the tree limb before I came around. I started driving very slowly down the hill. I needed to make a right hand turn, in a somewhat small space. Our streets are very narrow, and also lined with other cars. I was taking it slow, and moving very carefully. "CRASH!" "CLANG!" "Dad, you hit someones car!" "What? Fuck. I'll move the truck away from the car." "Grrrrrr. Crash!" "Dad, your dragging the car down the street!" "Shit. Shit. Shit!"

About this time several of the neighbors are running out of their houses to see what all the noise was. I jumped out of the truck and ran over to the passenger side to see the damage. "Shit!" I had pull off the whole front end of the car. "How the hell did I do this?" Dante was running around in a panic. "Dad, what are you going to do?" "Okay, calm down. I'll just try to find the owner." Well, nobody knew who's car it was. I went up and down the block, and still no luck. In the end I realized that I needed to get the truck back to where it originally was, and back to loading. About this time Fred and Remy arrived. They didn't even realize that the mammoth truck was now at the bottom of the hill. When I came up walking up the hill, they gave me a very confused look. "Why is the truck down the hill?" "I hit a car. Not just slightly hit it, I think I may have totaled it." "Well, all you can do is put a note on it. We need to get back to loading."

I went to get some cardboard, and wrote the largest apology note possible. I put my name, cell phone number, address, and another big time apology, and then went back to work. Eventually, hours later I heard a knock at the door. A guy I had never met was standing there with a grin on his face. "I figured you were the guilty party. Just look at the size of that truck." He was the nicest of guys. I gave him all the information he needed. I told him I would do anything needed to get his car fixed. He said not to worry. He would deal with it tomorrow, and give me a call.

Whew. Well, we worked all afternoon, and early evening. Loading, moving, reorganizing. And eventually, we had to make some cuts. Our 26 foot truck was not big enough for everything. I mean we had that thing loaded to the gills. The very last thing that made it onto the truck was a very large mirror, which was lifted, and held in place while we carefully pulled down the back hatch.

By the time we were done it was 10pm. By this time it was so late, and there wasn't going to be time for long goodbyes. I did make a quick trip down to our bedroom. I told Michael that we were moving. We had some happy times here. And we had a significant ending. In the end I knew that all those memories, and Michael's love, would be traveling with me. I picked up the box which held Michael's urn. I placed in in the cab of the truck, right behind me. I started the engine, and we were off.

We were tired. We were sweaty. But we hit the road. This was the beginning of a new chapter.

Friday, July 16, 2010

- Well, tried to post before midnight but was checking into a room. We hit the road this evening, and drove a couple of hours south. It was an absurdly crazy day. More later.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Talk Talk

You talk too much
Originally uploaded by

There is nothing like being ahead of schedule. Today I found that almost everything that needed to be done on the house was now completed. As long as I don't start adding more quick projects before closing up the house, I may very well be on the road to San Diego tomorrow, a day early.

My day was mostly spent out of the house, running some last minute errands. In the middle of it all I booked one last massage here in cloudy San Francisco. The massage itself was good, as my poor body has really taken a beating with all the work on the house this week. I went with a new massage therapist, who was good, but very chatty. Ordinarily I don't like there to be any talking during a massage, as I like to just get into my own zone. Today I had no choice in the matter, as this guy really seemed antsy for some conversation. At times I found myself laughing quietly, as he was actually quite funny in all of his ramblings. There were moments when I thought to myself, does he really think this is relaxing? Anyway, he seemed quite intrigued by all of my tattoos, and at one point asked "who is M.W.L.?"

I answered that the initials stood for Michael Walter Lowrie, my deceased husband. I then explained that he had died ten months ago. It was one of those moments where you never saw it coming. He too had suffered a loss many years ago. One of his first boyfriends, with whom he had a stormy relationship, that was on and off several times, died in a house fire during one of their separations. He said that it was a horrible experience, as he kept thinking if only they hadn't broken up yet again, that this might not have happened. We didn't stay on the subject too long, but were able to discuss some of our similar experiences with grief. He then asked if this loss is what precipitated my move to San Diego. I said that yes, it had brought me to the point that I needed a new environment, and something new to move toward. He seemed to easily understand my decision, and wished me well.

Then he began talking some more.

So maybe it wasn't the most quiet of massages, but it was a brief opportunity to be with another gay widower, and for the both of us to feel connected.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Blue II

Blue Belt
Originally uploaded by
UNLV Rebel Yell

11:02, doing better.

Tonight was my office going away party. There were many people from my agency, as well has many attorneys from court. I was truly touched by each person's participation in tonight's celebration, and was humbled by the wonderful words shared by each. In the middle of it all I was asked to share my thoughts with the group. I spoke of my appreciation for the work that everyone does in the field of child welfare. I shared how in some ways this was a difficult decision, as I am quite passionate about what I do, and feel that it has been a significant opportunity for me to contribute to my community. I was also humbled by all the words of appreciation from each person. They were all well aware of the difficult year that I have had, and seem to understand my need to seek something new and different.

There was definitely some sadness to say goodbye to these wonderful people, and I left feeling blessed, but also blue for the loss that goes hand in hand with my decision.

When I got in my car, and before I started on the road, I called home to see if my boys wanted me to pick up some food. My son Dante got on the phone, and shared with me some extremely exciting news. At his final Jiu Jitsu lesson tonight, he was promoted to a blue belt. It is the first level of ranking in the sport, and is often presented to the student during his/her first year of learning this discipline. It was totally unexpected, as he has only been studying Jiu Jitsu for five month. He was so elated, and as he shared with my his joy, I began to cry with such pride. To think that my son, who has suffered from so many problems with his mental health over the years, has finished his first semester at home, with perfect attendance and ranking, then to be further acknowledged by his Jiu Jitsu instructor, well, it was amazing. He has done so well, and I am beaming, and crying, with pride. It just goes to show that when you are feeling that all hope is gone, life will surprise you.

My son has taught me not to give up on life, and that all the hard work and sacrifices that life seems to require, will at time pay off in spades. This honor, and acknowledgement of achievement, will propel him further than I, or he, can imagine.

Today was a blessing. After getting off the phone with my son, I paused and said a word of thanks. There is much to be grateful for.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


11:45 pm, and I am getting this in under the wire.

I have had an extremely busy, and hard-working day. I have spackled, painted, boxed, dismantled, lifted and moved furniture, and my poor body is worn out. As I sit here I can feel every muscle in my body, knotted and sore. What I wouldn't give for a nice hot tub, or massage. What I got instead was a warm shower, and tons of real estate documents to fill out.

Being kept so busy has made me coast through the ten month anniversary of Michael's death. I knew it was arriving, but I told myself that it was just another day. I needed to stay focused on the tasks at hand, and can feel what I need to feel when this is all behind me. I did get a sweet reminder from my daughter, who says she lit a candle in Michael's honor, and has had him on her mind throughout the day. I appreciate her sharing this with me. Being that she's been in San Diego for the past three weeks, I have really missed her.

I look around my bedroom, and everything has been dismantled and packed. What I haven't yet touched is the one shelf that holds Michael's urn and all of the little trinkets that keeps it company. The room is very dark, as I have packed the electronic picture frame that usually illuminates the room. Tonight the only glow comes from a single tea light next to the urn. Outside is the soft light of the fountain. And I sit here, feeling peaceful.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Power of the Stitch

Have you ever met someone who just happens to have a natural gift? Have you ever attended a revival, and watched as a healer goes through the crowd, healing what ails them? Well, call me a sceptic, as I have a problem with the notion that some people have some super power that other's don't. I'm not saying I completely dismiss the idea, I'm just saying that I need to see it with my own eyes to believe.

Today I became a true believer, in the power of the stitch.

I have often heard the proverb "A Stitch In Time Saves Nine." But what does it actually mean? Well, I went to my favorite source, Wikipedia. The moral of the proverb is that it's best to fix problems soon after they are discovered so that they don't grow into larger problems that will require a lot more effort to fix. in literal terms...mend it now before it drops to bits, it is better to deal with the problem now before it gets too bad it means that to take the time/expense to do something right initially will save you time/expense later. Here is another way of looking at this. Think of a small rip in a stitched seam. If one were to restitch the hole in the seam while it is small, it won't take nearly as much effort as when the hole has time to work itself into a larger hole.

Now, when I talk about the power of the stitch, I am referring to the healing power that comes through the artisans hands. That healing power touches our heart, and changes us. The power of the stitch is so strong, that it can lift our heavy spirits.

The artist that I am speaking of today is none other than Woman N Shadows. Many of you may not be aware of the wonderful gifts that she has. She is not only creative in words and pictures, but she is a talented artist, who creates beautiful quilts, and other textile art. The website for her work is called Renaissance Artist. Please check it out.

If I get back to the proverb, "A Stitch in time..." It reminds me of how we work through our grief. I can't speak for others, only for myself when I say that we must go through it, intense and painful feelings and all. If we try to run and hide from our pain, it will only intensify later. What doesn't get lived through today, may be nine times more difficult to plow through another day. And while we are going through this healing process, we need to look for ways of feeling comforted. If your loss is your spouse, then this is very difficult, as they were the person you likely turned to. I know that for myself, I still look for ways that Michael can comfort me through the sad and painful days. As I have said in the past, I have come to wear his shirts and pajamas as a way of feeling close to him. I still have my favorite of his suit, shirt and tie, hanging in the closet. When I am feeling engulfed in my grief, all I need to do is walk over to the closet and hold this things in my arms.

I was first introduced to the idea of a memory quilt from one of the women in the bereavement group I participated in last fall. Since then I had thought that I would one day have a quilt made with some of Michael's clothing. Initially I thought the quilt would be for me, but later I decided that the person who needed it most was Michael's mother. She loved Michael with all her heart. He brought her so much pride and joy over the years. Having him gone has been devastating for her. Because it has somewhat become part of my role now to see that she, and the rest of his family, are doing well, I wanted to have this quilt made for her.

My friend, Woman N Shadows, created not only a work of art, but a piecing of Michael, all stitched together to bring comfort. Her process was full of dedication and love. She wanted to know who this man was who wore these clothes. She wanted to know why these particular items were chosen. And then, she asked what words would best bring out Michael's voice.

In the months prior to Michael dying, I encouraged him to write a letter to his mother saying those things that often go unmentioned. I told him how important it would be for her to be able to read his words, over and over again. I knew that she would need these affirmations from her son. These words of Michael's can be found stitched into this quilt.

So, do I believe in healers. You bet your sweet ass I do. wNs is a healer with her art. She has chosen a medium that allows those of us who grieve to find comfort in these tangible items of clothing. They are carefully stitched together, often with delicate threads. How appropriate a memory quilt is, as we who mourn often feel like our lives have completely come undone. Each of us then goes about our days, trying to stitch ourselves back together. As we do this we quickly realize that the finished product will not look, or feel, the same. We are now changed.

These pieces of clothing, that were worn for this occasion, or for that occasion, are now forever stitched together to form a blanket of warmth and comfort, and to provide healing through our memories.

Thank you Woman N Shadows, you do beautiful work.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Message to Michael

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.
Originally uploaded by
Spencer Finnley

Dearest Michael,

It's been some time since I addressed you through this blog. I don't know if you have a sense of the living, but if you do, then you know my heart is still pining for you. I visited with you mother yesterday, and she is still hurting so much. You made such an impact on all of us, and now we are all left to mourn you until the day we leave this earth as well.

I am busy making some changes in my life. I am not leaving you behind, as I carry you with me every minute of the day. I am trying, and learning, to accept that you are gone. Even with all the pain I have endured, it still doesn't seem real. I keep expecting to see you walk into our bedroom. When I wake up I still loo for you. While I sleep my arm is still searching for you.

You know Michael, you gave me something I never thought I would have. True love. Our relationship was full of all the qualities I wanted, infused with passion. For so long I felt like I was not fully experiencing life as others did. I had many good things in my life, but I didn't have that one person to feel such passion for. What we had was not a fairy tale. It was real. I love all that we had. The love making, the arguments, the family issues, the travel, and even your illness. If there was some kind of divine intervention at play in bringing us together, then I should be offering my thanks. You gave me so much, even until the very end.

I have no regrets. I feel so blessed to be chosen to take care of you, and to help make your passage from this world a loving and peaceful one. I hope you were not scared, as there were some scary moments for me. It was hard to know how much you were aware of in the end. You should know that I never slept. I never let go of you, and our lips were locked when you took your last breathe. I like to think that I still carry part of you within me. I purposefully took a deep breath in so that all of your last breath became part of me. Please know that I will continue to live in a way that was important to you. I will live a life of integrity, and compassion for others. I will remember to keep a smile on my face, and keep a twinkle in my eye that is yours.

I will make sure that all of our kids, the Cano's and the Lowries, always know what a wonderful person you were. I will guide them in a way that you would have wanted to do. I will encourage them to seek education, and to share their knowledge with others. I will do my best at retelling some of your wonderful stories, even if they have heard them hundreds of times before. They will all grow up knowing you, and appreciating the impact you had on my life, and theirs.

My heart is yours Michael. You were a wonderful husband, and I feel so blessed that we were able to exchange our vows in front of all the people we love. That day will always be one of the best in my life.

Be at peace my love.

Yours. Dan

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The difference that I seek.

a world of difference (wk 38 of 52)
Originally uploaded by

Late night.

Today I took a bit of a break from my packing mania. I had a visit with my mother-in-law and Michael's best friend. We all just sat around talking, and catching up about each other's family. It was one of my goodbye visits.

I must say that it has been weighing heavy on my mind that my move will be difficult for Michael's mother. Although we only see each other every couple of months, we have become each other's link to Michael.

This is only one of many ways in which I often feel obliged to think about the needs and desires of others before my own. There are also factors with my children that needed to taken into consideration. Yet, it is a time that I need to think of myself for a change, and do what I know is best for me. I have spent most of my adult years putting other people's needs before my own. By doing that, I have made many sacrifices over the years.

Now is my time. I don't claim to know that this move will be all that I hope it to be. At the same time, I don't have too many expectations. It is a change of scenery. It is a move in a new direction. It is a way to be closer to my extended family. It is different from where I find myself today, and that difference is what I seek.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Moving Forward

moving forward
Originally uploaded by
minty mentos

So, first things first. Yes, I am now unemployed. Doesn't sound so great, does it? I wish I could announce that I am now retired, but I didn't go that route. I decided to vest my retirement funds, in the event that I find employment in the next six month, and choose to roll over my retirement. If I don't go that route then I will be able to announce my retirement six months from now.

It was a nice day at the office. Actually I spent a good part of the day driving a teen to a placement in Napa. Not a bad way to spend my last day at work. When I returned I took care of some last minute items, then made a clean exit. There aren't very many people in the office on Fridays, which made it easy to get out without much drama. I wanted to walk out as if it was just any other day at the office. The fact that I will not be returning will set in later. Besides, I still have my going away cocktail party to attend next Wednesday evening. I think I will be feeling the reality of all this by then.

I ended my afternoon with a quick trip to the tattoo shop to get some of my tattoo's touched up. It was nice to sit and talk with my tattoo artist. We had a nice goodbye. Not being one to sit when there is work to be done, I went straight to work with more packing the minute I got home. I just finished about an hour ago. I am exhausted. I think I will sleep well tonight.

You know, most of the packing has gone well, without too much emotional fall out. That wasn't the case tonight. When I went to pack our wedding china I found myself completely overwhelmed. As I reached for the first plate to pack, I felt short of breath, and tears came pouring down. It was the reality that I hadn't touch the china since we last used it. It was also the harsh reality that we will never use it together again.

I have been sitting here staring at this computer screen for about 15 minutes now. My mind has just been racing through all that has happened in the past 10 months, and all that is before me. In spite of the enormous amount of work that is ahead of me this next week, I am feeling very positive. I feel like this is the dawn of a new era for me. I am embracing change. I am going to wrap myself in Michael's love, and keep moving forward.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What do I seek?

Human spirit
Originally uploaded by

I just finished watching a documentary on HBO called "No one dies in Lily Dale." It's about a community of mediums, where people from many places come with hope of reaching out to their dearly departed. I sat quite intrigued, not by the mediums themselves, but by the intense need in those that grieve for further connection, understanding or healing. I know that for many of us widowed, the idea that we could somehow be reconnected with our spouses, would be quite a draw. Our hearts ache, and for many, there are so many unanswered questions.

I sometimes read about others who feel their loved one's presence, or see them in a dream. For many this is very comforting, especially if their spouse died unexpectedly. For me, I knew that Michael was dying, and we had the benefit of having many talks about what life after death might be like. We talked about what my life would be like after he was gone, and what Michael wanted for me in the future.

I saw in tonight's film, the desperate need that many of us widow(er)s have, to experience something that connects us to them. And, I can't honestly say that I haven't given this some thought, or that I haven't had an experience where I felt what I thought might be Michael's energy. But what I can say is that I have chosen to not explore this train of thought.

I don't always know what it is that I need, but I do have a sense of what is not best for me. I need to begin putting more of my energy into accepting that Michael is gone. I need to incorporate this fact in my everyday life, so that I can be open to what life still has in store for me. I know that Michael did not want me to spend all my life focused on what cannot be. He wanted me to find someone else to share my love, and for me to be loved in return. He didn't feel threatened by the idea that I could one day have someone else in my life. In fact, he often referred to my "next husband" quite often. This was his way of letting me know that he expected it. And while I am not ready for that at this point, I do find comfort in knowing that it will not be something I need to feel guilty about if it happens.

These last few nights have been very painful, and I have found myself sobbing quite heavily. Nights like these serve as a reminder of the intensity of my loss. It is almost a welcome break from the numbness that I still experience throughout the day. It serves to remind me that I found true love, and that I am capable of having such love in my life. I don't know when I will be ready to explore this, or if there will be a moment that I jump into the dating pool. I will likely just do as I plan, to keep living my life, and remain open to all possibilities.

Obviously I am taking a big step in that direction by this move. I am giving myself the opportunity to find my way in a new place. I hope to step outside my comfort zone, and begin interacting with people again. It's time to find some enjoyment that can only come with making new friends, and exploring new experiences.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Speech! Speech!

Putonghua Speech Celebration 013
Originally uploaded by

The count down is on. Today was my third to last day of work. It was the last Wednesday of Dan on the floor. It was my second, "this is my last court appearance day." It was, oh, you get the picture.

Last week I thought it was my last hurrah at court. The commissioner even came down from her bench to give me a hug. Then I walk right back into her court room again. The court reporter looked at me and smile, "Dan, didn't we already say goodbye to you?" Yes, but just like Cher, Barbra, Tina or Celine, this is my goodbye tour! A coworker of mine was out of town, and she asked me to appear in court for her. She had double set hearings, in two different court rooms. Most would find this to be quite stressful. Not me. I love it. To me, there is nothing like wheeling and dealing jurisdictional language with attorneys. It's what I do best. It's also what I will greatly miss. When we got into the court room, I sat at the table, and the attorney to my right looked at me with surprise. "Dan, your leaving?" I looked down at the table, and there was a flyer announcing my departure, and inviting everyone to join in on a gathering for drinks at the corner piano bar. It's happening next week, and I am looking forward to this.

Today at the office, there was the usual gathering in the middle of the floor, where all of our 4th floor celebrations occur. As a rule I try to avoid these mid-week gatherings, as I don't usually like to socialize much. A friend took me to lunch, and we were running late, and almost missed the Goodbye Celebration for Dan. There was a delicious chocolate cake, and a gathering of my peers. Many nice words were shared, with everyone singing my praises. This list of praises got a bit out of hand, so my good friend George decided to add her own praise to the list. "And I think Dan even invented Child Welfare!" I laughed so hard, as the whole thing was a bit much. Okay, I contributed during these last 21 years, but I didn't walk on water.

"Speech, Speech!"

It always comes to this. That is why I avoid these types of things. Not that I'm afraid to speak in public. Quite the opposite. While I tend to be kind of quiet, I have no problem when it comes to addressing the masses. These were my people. I needed to leave them with something. Right? What a responsibility. You don't just walk out the building without leaving some sentiment behind.

What struck me most about this moment was that everyone was happy. Everyone was genuinely pleased that I was doing this for myself. They are all aware of the loss I have suffered, and have been amazingly supportive of me during the two years of battling Michael's cancer, and especially during these past 10 months. And this is where my speech began.

Today I said my formal goodbye to my San Francisco family. I told them how much I have appreciated that they have always had my back. Through each of these hardships, I knew that I could count on any of them. I respect each of them for all of their dedication and hard work. When you are a civil servant, you don't always get much praise. There isn't an end of the year bonus. You are expected to do more than your share, then you are expected to do even more. I wanted each of them to know that they have given me an enormous gift with their loving support. They have provided me an environment where I can continue to do my work, yet also attend to my family's needs. Many of these people went to graduate school with me, so we have been at this for over 23 years together. This is why this was not an easy choice to make. I wasn't just quitting a job. I am taking all that they have given me, and I am using that support to propel myself forward.

While I am feeling quite overwhelmed by all the work here at the house to be ready for next weeks move, I am very grateful for the launching pad that these wonderful people have provided. I am truly fortunate.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Home Alone

Home Alone 1 Macaulay Culkin
Originally uploaded by

Just when I thought I could donate no more, I managed to fill another truck load. I have an SUV, which holds quite a bit. I was sharing my strategy of giving away half of what I own to a coworker today. She thought this was a good, and wise, way of moving. I realized tonight that maybe giving things away is becoming too easy. Many of these things that occupied my house are now meaningless to me. It's not that I don't value them, but I have become so immune to loss, so losing more doesn't really phase me.

All day the reality of my decisions were really making me sad. Throughout the day my coworkers would come up to me to ask if I was excited about my move. Up until today I always smiled and said yes, quite enthusiastically. Today I would just nod, and say that it is what's best for me. I couldn't help but think that none of this should be happening. I never would have expected to leave my job, or to leave the Bay Area. Then again, I never really prepared myself for losing Michael.

I got home from work about 5:30 pm, and got right to work. I spent the first hour loading up my SUV with things. Every time I turned around and looked at the save pile, I would go through it once again, and make myself put more in the car. I stopped when there was no room left. I then came upstairs and had a bite to eat, and watched a little bit of "Home Alone" with my son Remy. It felt quite surreal. "Home Alone" in July? It's a Christmas story. After my meal break I got busy packing the kitchen. I did this until 9 pm, then decided I needed to stop. As I came down to my room the tears started. The weight of my decisions, and the emotional toll of all this work has taken a hold on me. This is an enormous task that I have taken on. Yesterday I traded Facebook messages with my sister-in-law. She was telling me that she and my brother are also busy packing to move into their new home, so she sympathized with me. I couldn't help but think about how they are sharing this responsibility, yet here I am doing all this alone.

These days all I can think about is how alone I am. I don't mean to forget my lovely children, but the alone I feel is that of being alone without another adult to share in all of this. They boys have been totally absorbed in their Playstations, which is fine with me. This way I don't feel like I'm neglecting them while I do all this packing. Yet the counter to that is that I feel so alone in the house.

What I need to remember is that when I arrive in San Diego I will be met by several good friends who are wanting to help unload. I will also be able to go see my parents as soon as I have settled everything into the house. I look forward to spending a lot of time with my extended family and friends this summer. Perhaps with all of these people just two hours away, I will not be feeling quite so alone at home.

Monday, July 5, 2010

To keep, or not to keep. That is the question.

Originally uploaded by

It is better to give, than to keep. Right?

Today was another day of packing more things into boxes, and placing them into storage. This plan I have, of putting everything into storage once boxed up, has really helped me manage the process. I am able to see what is left to do, and to best gage how much stuff I have, and how much stuff I don't need.

Last week I had boxed up all of the books, photo albums and files from my bedroom. It was a mixture of our things. I decided not to try and sort through these things, as they are not crucial at this time. Once those boxes were in storage I knew what needed to be done next. I had been avoiding it long enough. I needed to decide what to do with Michael's clothing. I had already alerted his mother that I would be placing his clothing into boxes for donation. She had previously asked me to pick what I wanted to keep, then she would take the rest to donate to a hospice store near her home. When I checked in with her last week she said I should go ahead and donate them here in San Francisco.

I took my time, folding each piece of clothing very carefully. I put aside those items that had sentimental value, then went through those items and filtered them once again. I reminded myself that they were just things, and that other men could find great benefit in his clothing. I have often had clients who participated in the Salvation Army's programs for men who are trying to turn their lives around. I know that many of them are given job and interview skills training, and then need a nice suit when they go out looking for jobs. This is what I told myself as I folded all of Michael's suits and dress shirts, and placed them into the boxes.

I kept having this conversation with Michael. I reminded him that he no longer needed all of these things, and that he would be helping so many other young men by giving them away. I have always donated anything that I haven't used during the prior year. It has been a rule I adopted, many years ago, and one I stick to. Michael was of the rule that he should put things away for a rainy day. He always said, "you never know." He often liked to pack up his winter clothing for safe keeping until the following year. As you might guess, his things took up most of our closet and basement storage area. We used to laugh, because the more I got rid of things, the more his things got moved into my side of the closet.

I hope he understands, and if he doesn't, it's high time he did. Yes, even after death I'm trying to change my man. Not an easy feat, as Michael could be quite stubborn. But that was part of his charm I guess.

I'm finding that I am able to do all of this with a matter of fact attitude these days. I feel like it was the perfect time to move some of his things on. As a matter of fact, I was able to move two car loads of our things on today. I think it is my 8th car load of donations since I began packing up the house. I'm really trying to stick with my resolve to give away anything not used in the last year. I have also tried to give away half of everything we had in this house. I don't want to feel burdened by objects from our past. I want to carry forward those things that really mean something, and not cling to other things just for the sake of holding on to them.

I'm finding this process quite freeing.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

July Memories

2007 SF Fireworks from USS Hornet
Originally uploaded by
Thomas Ricard

Let's keep this brief tonight. It's July 4th, and I keep thinking that Michael was still alive on this night last year. I don't think in these terms all the time, it just hits me on certain days. Coming up soon is the first wedding anniversary of my niece. I remember last July, wondering if we would make it to the wedding. I had bought flight tickets for the whole family, but had been arranging for the kids to fly on their own, as Michael hadn't been feeling very good about this time. In the end we did go, and we had a wonderful time. I remember hearing how some at the wedding were amazed to see me and Michael out there on the dance floor. Everyone knew that Michael's health had made a turn for the worst, and yet there he was kicking up his heals. After he died some people couldn't believe that the person they saw having a good time at the wedding, was now dead. My niece later sent me a picture of Michael and I at the wedding, which was very sweet of her. I think it was the last picture we took together, and I'm very fond of it.

Today is also the birthday of my best friend. She lives on the east coast, so we don't get too see each other very often. Yet in recent years there have been more opportunities than usual. About 6 months prior to our wedding, Michael and I took a trip to Provincetown. While on the east coast we made our way to visit my friend and her family in Connecticut. We had a really good time. They later came out for our wedding, and stayed on a few days so we could have a nice visit. After Michael died, my friend, Peg, decided that rather than come for the memorial, she would come the month after. You see, she knew that I would be needing a friend to talk to, as she was also widowed many years before. The one thing she remembered from her experience, was how everyone seems to disappear just when you need them the most. I really appreciated her doing that for me, and our visit was perfect. During the time of the memorial I was completely numb and shell-shocked. In the weeks that followed I started to feel things more deeply, and needed some company. I will also be seeint her this August in San Diego.

In the next couple of weeks will be my father's birthday, and Michael's mother's birthday. Although I won't be down south by the time my father's birthday comes around, I will be there shortly afterward. I look forward to sitting with him in his home, and sharing our memories of Michael. I do hope to visit with Michael's mother before I leave. I want to be sure to give her the birthday honor she deserves. She gave so much to Michael over the years, but especially during his last few months. His mother stayed here with us for most of the summer, and it was such a loving honor to share in his care with her.

July, full of memories.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Reaching Out
Originally uploaded by
* Honest *

Today I got a lot accomplished. I was able to give away some more of my things, do some cleaning, and do a lot more packing. Progress.

In the late afternoon I decided it was a good time to watch a video I had purchased awhile back. It is called "Young Widow. Naked in the Memorial Playground" by Elizabeth Titus. Elizabeth had left me a message on my Facebook account, and thought I would benefit from viewing her documentary. It is a collection of sorts, with various widows and widowers sharing their stories, and talking about their individual experiences with grief. It also has short breaks were she is asking people on the street their perceptions of what a widow is like, and how long should one grieve.

I found this documentary to be very affirming. It is comforting to hear from others who are going through this, especially others who are a bit further along in their journey toward healing. This is not to say that we all go through the same process, or in the same time frame, but hearing from others does allow us to feel validated.

This also makes me think of the amazing influence the web has on each of us today. When I think of the people who have become my core means of support and understanding these past 9 months, I don't take for granted the fact that they are spread throughout the world. While these online relationships are not quite the same as having someone physically sitting with you while you talk, they take up the enormous slack that we know as our isolation.

I know that each of us plays a part in each other's day to day journey, if only by bearing witness to each other's words. As for me, I have become somewhat isolated by choice. Yes, it is probably not what I would have necessarily wanted, or recommended to someone in my situation, but it is where I find myself. What we find in losing our spouses, is that the others around us need to move on, almost immediately. It really isn't their place to anticipate all of our needs, or to even understand the depths of our pain. So much of it needs to be done alone, at least that is my experience. I am almost at 10 months out, and when I look back at the person I have become, I see someone who needs quiet and stillness. Sometimes I need the quiet in order to hear my own heart beat. I need to know that I am still alive. In movies we sometimes see depictions of those lost souls who are trapped between this world and the next. These souls are often thought to be the dearly departed, who have unfinished business, or just need more time before leaving this world. But it's been my experience that I am one of those lost souls trapped between this world and the next. Only with time, I find that I am finding my way back to this world.

It's thoughts like this that sometimes has me wondering if Michael is still around here, in some kind of parallel existence. Perhaps we are unaware of each other's presence. I lay here at night, still longing for him. I still sleep on only my side of the bed, and always have my arm stretched out where he should be. I wonder if he is on his side of the bed, wondering where I am, with his arm reaching out for me. Could that be why I feel such loneliness? Is is that I am feeling the cumulative longing from each of us?

Just something to think about. Obviously I am rambling tonight. I suppose it's my restless spirit needing to express itself.