Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pull me under.

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Today went really well for me. I had a quiet day of reading and gardening. Yes, more gardening. In the afternoon the boys and I drove out to the beach for a quick swim in the ocean. We weren't there for more than an hour, then back to the house. It is such a luxury to live so close to the ocean that we can just drive over for a quick swim. Later this evening we were back out for a late dinner. It was at that point that we got onto the road to return home. As I drove onto the freeway I notice the signs that led back to the beach. Immediately my mind turned to our honeymoon, and I have been feeling the pain of grief washing over me since.

Michael loved the ocean, and our honeymoon was spent in Puerto Vallarta. Forgive me if I have shared this with you before, but you have to be a patient listener when sitting with a widower. We need to share our stories over and over again. They are all we have now.

Michael and I were married on October 19, 2008. We were just one of thousands of gay and lesbian couples who took advantage of the brief opportunity to legally wed in California. We never imagined that this would be possible in our lifetime, not to mention in Michael's lifetime. At the time that the California Supreme Court had made it's ruling allowing us to marry, Michael was already beating the odds of survival with his brain tumor. We spent a good part of the summer planning, and arguing, about our wedding day. It was such a stressful time, as we were trying to rush through the planning stages that most couples take a good year to do. We didn't have that kind of time. We knew that come November our lovely neighbors, and fellow citizens of California, could likely vote away our short lived right to marry.

Anyway, we did get married, and had a lovely ceremony. We waited a couple of weeks after the wedding to leave for our honeymoon. Just about that time Michael was beginning to become symptomatic from his tumor. We would later learn, about a month later, that his tumor had begun to regrow. In spite of these symptoms, we were determine to have the most marvelous and romantic honeymoon. Michael wasn't able to walk too long, so we took a taxi everywhere in Puerto Vallarta. One evening, after a late dinner, were had the taxi drop us off near the ocean so that we could take an evening stroll. The night air was so calm, and so warm. The ocean looked beautiful, and we decided that we wanted to get into it somehow. As we had just come from dinner, we were not exactly dressed for swimming, and Mexico has very strict rules about public nudity. I noticed that a couple of small boutiques selling swimsuits were still open, so I told Michael that we should run over and quickly buy new swimsuits. We both ran into separate stores, and both exited wearing new bathing suits.

Michael and I both felt like little children. At that moment we had not a care in the world. I can still see his beautiful smile, and his twinkling eyes. We threw our clothes onto the shore and ran into the ocean. It all felt so refreshing. We swam, and we played, and we embraced there in the water. I can still feel his salty lips on mine, and the warm sensation of his arms around me. When we grew tired, we both laid out on the shore, and stared straight up into the moon lit night. Life was perfect. I have never been more happy. I loved him with all my heart and soul.

I still love him with all my heart and soul.

Tonight as I drove onto the freeway, and noticed the signs leading back to the beach, that is exactly where my thoughts went. Back to the beach, with Michael. I suddenly feel like I have been keeping myself so busy, or otherwise keeping my mind occupied, so that I wouldn't have to feel this depth of pain. I fucking hate life during these moments. How the hell did I go from total bliss to this?

I fail to understand why this had to happen, or why it had to happen to us. I know that I sound like a broken record. I don't really care. You know, on Friday it will be 11 months since Michael died, and I still don't know if I have seen him in a dream. What is that about? I think it's because I have willed myself not to dream of him. I often think it would be so much harder to get through all of this if he kept showing up at night, only to have me wake up the next morning with my reality. I don't know if that is really why I don't dream of him. I'm not that powerful.

You know, I think people expect that I am not in such pain, or that it can''t still feel so raw. I hide it well. I wear this armor all the time. It is not big, or heavy, or metal even. It is as soft as my skin. It bears all of my tattoos. It reaches up to my face, where it often wears a smile. It tells others that I am doing just fine. Tonight it feels like a lie.

I'm sitting here in my room looking out over the city lights. I wish I could just disappear into them and never be heard of again. People would say, I wonder what ever happened to him? It wouldn't matter to me, as long as I was with him again.

It's a good thing I'm not that close to the beach. It would be so tempting to walk into the ocean and let the undertow take me away.


  1. Oh Dan, do you want to send me a msg on facebook with your phone number and I will call you this evening. I love you.

  2. It's a good thing I'm not that close to the beach. It would be so tempting to walk into the ocean and let the undertow take me away.

    It has only been the past two or three months that I have stopped feeling this way myself. It has taken this long for the anger and sadness to subside to a level that I seem to be able to handle on a day to day basis. However, even now, there are moments when the sadness wells up and feels as though it will swamp me. The afternoon at the beach that I described in my post a couple of days ago was one such recent day - thinking of how Don should have been there too. I get so mad thinking of what he went through with the cancer, and then dying. As I have written elsewhere, it's not even me that I am so angry or sad for - but for him as I feel he got so ripped off. I wonder if I will ever get over feeling that way. Probably not as I think the part of me (of all of us) that believes in what is "right" or "just" can't really accept what has happened to those we love.

  3. you do wear your armor well. i was so impressed with you while i felt so weak. you helped me when i couldn't even get a breathe at the same time that it was probably hard for you to breath. if i had been able to see past your shell, i would have been able to help you. maybe in sitting together and with others alternately crying and sharing, we could have drawn strength from each other. your ideas for something like this haunt me. we could have seen the strength in all of us, strangers becoming new friends on this journey, and see the strength it takes to sit and cry, and then dry our tears and get up to go on.

    the ocean does have it's siren's song. believe me, i know. but coming back to the beach to continue watching it's beauty and mystery, it's ageless magnificence is just as appealing. always swim back, Dan. all of us need each others armor, each other's strength, and simply the awareness that someone will miss us.

    i wish you peace. and interestingly the word verification for my comment is "wordsing"

  4. Dan,

    I very much relate to all that you've said in this post. All of us wear very thin armour and the thought of just disappearing to be with our loves is so enticing. But for some bloody reason we are still here (in our case, maybe it's our children, who still need us, even when they drive us slightly crazy :) )

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful memory of Michael and the beach. Your description is so vivid that I can almost taste the salt on his lips and we all know that I wasn't there!

    Take care of yourself my friend. As good 'ole Scarlett O'Hara said, tomorrow is another day. I'm just waking to a new day and I pray that it holds a little less deep grief for both of us. Send me your number on Facebook if you feel like talking.

    Lots of love and hugs to you,

  5. Deb wrote: But for some bloody reason we are still here (in our case, maybe it's our children, who still need us, even when they drive us slightly crazy :) )

    I think it's my dogs that keep me here. (g & ng)

  6. chills. the heaviness always seems to be waiting - like climbing a roller coaster of almost acceptance, almost peace - and then wooosh - all the way down you go again. i find myself thinking no matter how high my highs get, they will never reach the height i knew when warren was here. nights have been especially hard again for me - i too no longer dream of him. i align it to the same reasoning you have; that perhaps, we have trained our minds away from such a pain. but what a joy it would be to see him again.
    peace to you dan, i wish things were different.

  7. Oh Dan, you have been washed by another wave of grief and dispair. We widows know and understand the pain you are experiencing. I just went through this yesterday as well. The memories bring such solace and such pain.
    I too have wanted it all to end - to not wake up in the morning - to join Dave for all eternity.
    Know that you are admired and loved.
    Know that this too shall pass - unfortunately only until the next wave.

    Thank you for sharing that beautiful memory. I can just picture you and Michael on the beach, frolicking and loving and laughing.
    love to you,

  8. Dan, it took a full two years for me to stop wanting to die and to stop hating life. I would have some better months in there, but my overall thought was to be with Jim. I think it took longer for me than for most (and I pray that it's not that long for you). But I just kept putting one foot in front of the other .... most days. Some days I'd retreat a mile.
    But all I knew .... was that my children's lives would be ruined if I got my wish. Yes, some days even that didn't distract me (which is why I ultimately went on meds .... thank God).
    All this to say .... you are not alone. My heart is wishing so much that I could be there with you .... just to sit and be.
    Know that I and so many other people are there in spirit.

  9. Hey.
    I got nothing. No words of wisdom or solace. That is the thing - where do you go for an anchor when you know everything can disappear in a second, on a normal, average, beautiful day? When everything you trust and love and know in you suddenly becomes more than a wee irrelevant to where you are now. Life does not apparently care how in love you are, or how deeply, deeply at home you are. Maybe it does, and has a very bizarre way of showing it.

    Ram Dass talks about his main spiritual exercise being "and" - as in, I am deeply deeply loved, I know this AND This Happened. WTF do I do with those two things that seem so irrelevant to each other. Going back and forth between the two is an immense spiritual exercise. One I am often not strong enough for.

    Water imagery being what it is for me (matt drowned, and I could not save him or stop it), the very very fervent wish that I had gone under myself that day is nearly always beside me. (13 months ago today, the first time the actual date, rather than day of the week that has smacked me) And wanting to do whatever it is godd or whomever wants of me so I can get out of here and go home. The thought of a long life without ever being home with matt, home with myself, again is overwhelming. I have been swimming only two times so far this year - both times, riding that edge of letting the water hold me, and flashing back to that day and only wanting the water to take me back. Like bev, my commitment to, and my love for, our dog is what keeps me off the edge. He survived that day at the river too. That, and not wanting to disappoint my love, or some strange wondering if - well, I guess I don't know what "if." My language skills ran out on that sentence.

    I don't hate life. I know life is beautiful. Kindness exists. Love exists. I fail to see the "And." That life is beautiful, that there is beauty around me, does not replace the 98% of my being that got ripped away.

    Love you Dan. It's not enough. It's what we've all got though. As matt wrote a long time ago, and I put in his freaking obituary, "I wouldn't have it any other way, than to share peoples' pains with them, to be part of the circle while I'm here."


  10. I want to thank all of you for sitting with me for a short time today. Throughout the day I would take a break from my gardening, and read one of your comments. I feel so connected, and not so alone. I wish I could say that my mood has changed tonight, but alas, it hasn't. Perhaps it's not as extreme as last night, but it remains at a place of real sadness.

    I took an earlier yoga class tonight so that I could get home in time to cook dinner for the boys and me. I haven't been cooking too much since arriving here in San Diego, but I am trying to change that. After cleaning up the kitchen, I began to feel restless. I was trying to figure out if I should maybe head over to a nearby Starbucks to write tonight's post. I thought that it might help being around other adults, even if we were each busy doing our own thing.

    I didn't end of leaving the house after all. I began wondering if I was just feeling lonely, or if I was wanting to begin finding local friends. I have been introducing myself to each guy I meet at my yoga classes. Everyone seems to rush home afterward, but as time goes on I'm finding others willing to have a brief conversation. Last weekend there was a gathering at the beach with a bunch of the guys from the class, but I was at Camp Widow at the time. I'm hoping the instructor chooses to have another one of these gatherings soon.

    Anyway, I decided to stay in, and put together a small fountain I had purchased for my bedroom. I put it on the vanity in my bathroom, and it's sound is quite soothing. It reminds me of the fountain I had outside our bedroom in San Francisco. I had put that fountain near our bedroom window so Michael could find some peace while laying in bed.

    Well, this must made me start crying all over again. Really deep, painful crying. I'm alright though. I know it will pass. I just don't like my reality. It sucks big time. Now I sound like my boys.

    Thanks again for being such good friends. I hope each of you finds some kind of blessing tonight.

    Love. Dan

  11. Dan - It might be worth checking with your yoga instructor to see if he knows of any upcoming yoga-related events in your area. The town where I stay in winter has had a yoga expo each year for 6 years - unfortunately, I guess that won't be happening this winter. Anyhow, one of my friends went to the one last February and had a great time, made several friends, and has kept in touch with quite a few. I think people who go to such events tend to be there as much to network as to learn - and they tend to be people who are interested in growth and healing. If there's anything comparable in your region, it might be a nice way to spend a day or two. Also, I have to echo what Dorthea wrote in her comment to your next post. You haven't been in SD long, so are just settling in. For me, the first winter in Bisbee was sort of hard for about the first 2 months. It took me at least that long to feel comfortable in a new town. Coming here to Annapolis Royal area was the same - at least 2 months to get settled in as I was running around trying to get things that were needed, get stuff set up, etc... I'm still far from "settled" here as the house is such a catastrophe. I had bigger plans for getting to know more people, etc... but there just hasn't been time. In Bisbee, I did not really start making new friends until my second winter - but keep in mind I'm only there for 4 months each year. The first winter, I arrived 2 months after Don's death, and left at 6 months after - and really just spent the winter resting and grieving. Last winter, I began to come out of my shell (it would have been 14 month to 18 months) and I was much more ready to make a few friends and be able to talk about things with people and be around couples a bit without feeling so wounded all the time. On the surface, I'm sure I seemed fairly together and self-assured, even the first winter, but I was anything but. I noticed a great difference the second winter - at 14 months. That distance is a bit farther ahead for you, so try to give yourself continued time to heal before feeling too discouraged about your reality. As mentioned in my comments above, it only seems to have been this summer that I'm feeling "okay" with things - not so furious and sad about everything. It really does take time and we just have to slog along through the mess until we get to a better place in the future.