Saturday, August 28, 2010

A house full of laughter.

laughter (01)

Today was a nice change of pace. I had planned a BBQ, and was having my cousin, my daughter and a friend of hers over for dinner. I got up early, got the house in order, then went shopping. I took my time at the grocery store, looking up and down every isle. I told myself to take my time. There was no hurry, so I wanted to enjoy the fact that I was out of the house, and among other people. Of course one of the downsides to this is that the grocery store is in the gay section of town, and there were couples at every turn. I think every gay couple in San Diego was also planning their own BBQ. I wish I didn't feel so envious, or heartbroken, when I saw couples. I found myself studying them carefully, trying to remember that feeling of shopping with my husband, planning for a dinner with guests. I watched how they spoke to each other. I watched how they touched each other with purpose when they spoke. I realized that this is why I stay home most of the time, as I was fighting back tears the whole time. In between stores I did in fact find myself in tears, but then I am in tears every day lately. Don't throw too much sympathy my way. It's just part of my survival these days.

While shopping I decided to buy a bottle of wine. It's not that often that I have a drink, but thought it would lend to the festive occasion. I quickly got out my iPhone to see what was a good wine to pair with poultry and pork. As I was doing this all I could think of was Michael. He loved a good bottle of wine, and knew all the right types to buy. Of course with this realizations were more tears. Only this time they were joyful, as I remembered how important these decisions were for Michael. After hitting a couple of stores I ended up at another nursery, this time looking for some house plants. Wouldn't you know it, one of the couples from the grocery store were doing the same. I couldn't escape them, those damn happy gay couples!

I've been spending some extra time setting up my back deck for such occasions. I had purchased some seat cushions, more plants and a BBQ grill. When we were out there one of my neighbors looked out over his deck and commented on what a nice job I have done making my deck so cozy. It felt good to get this acknowledgement. He probably doesn't realize what a small gesture like that did for me.

The rest of the evening was all of us, including the boys, eating, telling stories, and laughing. Lots of laughter. I haven't laughed that much in a very long time. It felt really nice. For the first time this house started to feel like a home. When my daughter and her friend left, and the house was suddenly quiet, I went out to sit on the back deck alone. I had some time to talk to Michael, and to look out over the city lights. It was another chance for me to sit and cry. Now I hesitate to write this, because I don't want people thinking I write this for sympathy. That is not the case with me. My reality is that I rarely cry in front of anyone anymore. And I don't usually let people in close enough to even know that I still cry for Michael almost daily. But I do want those that read this blog to know what my reality is. If you are reading this to gage how you are doing with your grief compared to another widower, then I want to be open with you about my experience.

I had been doing fairly well for the past month, but there has definitely been a change as of late. During these past couple of weeks the grief is much stronger. It's likely because I am coming closer and closer the the one year anniversary of Michael's death. I think about this way too much, and need to take breaks throughout the day to cry a little. As I was sitting outside, I turned to look back into my home. I looked into the softly let dining room, from the vantage point of an outsider. It looked warm, and comfortable. I could sense that a nice time had occurred in that room quite recently. It made me smile, and at the same time made me sad. I'm pleased that I had this social time, and sad that I had it without Michael. I suppose that is a theme that I will need to get used to more and more. I want to move forward, and I want to be happy. I also realize by my having such strong reactions to all the couples today, that I want to be in a relationship again one day. I don't want to be alone and lonely. I want to be loved, and to plan such evenings with that person. It's also what Michael wants for me. This I am clear about.

I have decided to give myself these next couple of weeks to feel what I need to feel about the one year mark. I then want to do something to push myself forward. I want to start meeting people, and going out. I need to engage more with people. I don't want to sit at home and cry all the time. And, I don't want to keep myself in isolation. I want to have more of these evenings, and to have more laughter in my house. It's time. Well, it will be time, soon enough.


  1. I still cry a bit too. For awhile, I went through a non-crying time, but I'm back to sometimes crying. Not much though - it seems to be once or twice a day - some thought just comes up and I feel either sad, or have some special memory, and a few tears flow. I have a suspicion that that will never go away and I don't mind - it's probably a good thing.

    It's nice that your place is starting to feel more like a home now. That usually takes awhile, but it sounds like you've worked hard to get "there" quite quickly.

    In reading your description of couples shopping, and missing being in a relationship, I think it's good that you have recognized the need for that to happen in your life. The plan to try to meet and engage with more people seems good - even if for the moment, it is just to begin building a better network of friendships. While I am probably not going to become involved in another relationship I've been thinking that it would be good to build more friendships in the communities where I spend time. By the way, this very topic came up in conversation with some visiting biologist friends who are camped in my garden this week - they've known me for about 30 years and were wondering what I will do now as they feel Don was such an integral part of my life. They know that I'm now very comfortable with my "alone-ness" and unlikely to form a new relationship -- but they wondered if I will now become the person I might have become if I had never met Don -- if my future will become a time of rediscovering the "me" who might have been if I'd not married Don when I was 18. Hmmmm.

  2. I've gone through ups and downs with crying & being miserable as well. I tend to be melancholic anyhow, and when Brent was still alive, he would tell me that he didn't like me being miserable. Sometimes that realization helps me get through it all a bit better, but most often it doesn't make a difference.

    I miss his affection. And I'm sad for this child, due to be born any moment now, who will never know his father - at least not from an "earthling" perspective. And while I am happy that he left me such a precious gift, a part of him, I cry because he won't be here for this magical moment of birth. I'm scared. And sad.

    But then there are moments of laughter & joy.

    It's a strange weaving.

    But I get the sense from reading the blogs of others who have lost their loved ones that it is a similar experience for all.

    In his lectures collected under the title "staying Connected," Rudolf Steiner writes that the memories we have of the dead are like art to them. That was a very beautiful image for me to behold, esp. because Brent loved art & I have so many funny & joyful memories of our time together.

    It is a book I can only highly recommend. It has helped me so much in understanding the realities of the spiritual world from an esoteric-Christian viewpoint as I must admit the conservative Christian spin (This was God's will?!?!) just makes me wanna barf.

    Blessings to you!

  3. I feel the same way when I'm out shopping and I see couples. And they always seem to be everywhere, much more than they ever were around when I was part of a loving couple who always shopped together. Interesting point that maybe noticing couples and missing being part of one means that we're destined to one day be part of one again. I hope for that and dread it all at the same time.

    I've been full of tears lately, after going through a time when I didn't have many tears. They still seem to come in waves with me and right now I'm in the middle of a big wave that is immobilizing me. I love your idea of giving yourself a timeframe and then you're going to start pushing yourself. I was thinking about that this morning before I read your post. I think sometimes we do need to force ourselves to do things so we can move a little bit forward. It is very easy to stay immobilized by grief. Like Scarlett O'Hara, I'm looking at tomorrow.

    Glad you had a good BBQ last night. I have no doubt your house and deck are wonderful places to hang out!

  4. Dan, firstly, let me reassure you that no one will interpret your admission of crying as "seeking sympathy" ... NO WAY ... and if they do, they are abject morons :-) oh and I will slap them ... hard ;-)

    I remember the month leading up to the 1st "deathiversary" ... and it was awful. The realization that I could not stop it arriving, just as I could not stop his dying. It kind of loomed over me like a heavy sad dark carpet, and the anticipation really got me nervous, "flight or fight" feeling, such deep sorrow and loss that words fail me ...

    My precious friend, cry all you need to. Tears are not a sign of weakness, they are a testament to your love and loss, and they add to the ocean of tears that you will have spilled by the time you are as healed from this experience as you possibly can be.

    I'd love to be able to drive over and sit with you on your decking, hold your hand, light a candle, pour you a frozen margarita (with sparklers, umbrella and all the trimmings) and listen to "Michael stories" for the evening on September 13th. I wish ...

    Are you planning to do something special on the day?

    After driving home today, I went to a supermarket that we didn't normally go to, because I couldn't face the pain I experience each time I go to our "regular" store ... and it was just as bad. I don't notice other couples ... I "see" Cliff everywhere, I mean I visualize him looking at the meat, the cheeses, the special offers ... I can see him so clearly, his hands, carefully selecting our food and it breaks my heart.

    We have come a long way ... we are looking to the future. It may be an unplanned, unwanted future, but we are willing to dip our toes into it again ... that's huge. For now, it's enough ... be kind and patient with yourself. You've earned that.

    With your permission, I'd light to light a chinese lantern for Michael on the 13th. If you would like to tell me any words you'd like me to write on the lantern, just say ...

    My heart is welling up for you and I wish I could make it better. I wish ...

    Love you Dan xxx

    p.s. I still cry for Cliff each day in private too

  5. I'm glad you had an evening full of friendship and laughter. Times like that are so important to our healing.

    And thank you for being honest about your grief, about the tears. After a period of hardly crying at all, lately I've been breaking down in tears every night. I think it's due to the six month anniversary coming up in a few days. I try to let myself feel the emotions as they come up but not wallow in them for too long. Right now, after spending the morning looking at our wedding pictures and crying, I'm going to watch my friend's cooking show on The Food Network and then make myself go to the gym, whether I feel like it or not.

  6. holy cow, everything about this post, and every one's comments have got me crying and crying and so thankful we are all here, if we have to be here. Thank you everybody. Cadi - that is an image I will keep coming back to. Thank you. And man - where is our magic subway train tube so we can just instantly zoom across time zones and sit on porches.

    Dan - I have only been able to go back to "our" grocery store twice since. And any other grocery stores, I have to avoid completely on weekends, lunchtimes, and around dinner time. There is too much happy sweetness, too many people in love. It is just too much to see. Boo - I also see matt everywhere in grocery stores. I still go to buy a cut of meat, then realize - wait. It's only me now, and I can't nearly eat all that. It feels like a horrifying impossibility - to know how much I missed being so loved, and that if I am so loved again, it is with someone other than the one I love. Stupid, stupid widowhood.

    Not to be presumptious and volunteer anybody, but how can we be here for you these coming days and weeks, dan?

  7. ps - I completely understand the deep sigh of "I have no idea what I need and please don't ask me to expend energy thinking of what I need." In that case, I'll send love.

  8. Thank you all. Each of you have become a central part of my journey, and each of you have contributed to my well-being today. As for what I need? I need people to recognize that something is still happening to me, which each of you do so well. I need to know that when I feel all alone late at night, that I am not. All I have to do is read through the last weeks worth of comments to know that I am well connected to each person that reads, and responds to my writing.

    I still have so much of that damn male baggage, which prevents me from first of all being aware of my feelings and what I need, and secondly, being able to verbalize them and ask for help. I would like to think that as a gay man in this day and age, that I am much more evolved, but the honest truth is that I am not that much further along than most other men. Maybe I get a few points for being here in the blogshere, talking, as I don't see too many other guys, but I'm not that much more developed.

    As most of us men would have to admit, we would be quite lost without the significant influence of women in our lives. I thank you all. And not to slight any men reading, if you are there, then I thank you as well.

  9. oh dan, I have to respectfully disagree with you! Your mindful examination of all the feelings that sweep over us all with or without our permission is incredibly detailed, with wonderful imagery, and so helpful to me, and i am certain i am not the only one. The few men i "know" in this community of the walking wounded widowed are all weaving an important swath of texture & perspective on this path, and if anything, i feel a bit like the men are offering a little gift of talking about missing their loves while surrounded by all these women.