Saturday, September 25, 2010


Touch my heart

Last week I received a card from one of Michael's dear friends. It was a simple message acknowledging her thoughts of me, her thoughts of Michael, and just wanting to remind me that she is there. What's funny, is that after the card arrived I held onto to it for several days before opening it. I think that I had anticipated a loving message, and anticipated a tapping into my emotions, so I waited.

Each day I would pick up the unopened card, and carry it upstairs to my bedroom, thinking I would read it that night. The next morning I would carry it downstairs, planning to open it with my morning coffee. This quickly became a ritual of holding.

How do we hold on to our feelings? How do we hold on to our love? How do we hold on to the anticipation of something special?

I have quickly recognized that as a widower, these special little gifts, these special little acknowledgement don't come our way that often. So is it any wonder that opportunities, like receiving a card, need to be savored?

This morning I was online beginning my browsing for homes for sale. It looks like my house in San Francisco is about to be sold, so I will soon have some cash in hand to buy a home here in San Diego. While browsing I received a call from one of Michael's friends. She lives here in San Diego, and works not too far from where I am living. She asked if it would be okay to drop by for a quick visit, as she had something she wanted to give to the kids and I.

Is it okay for one of Michael's friends to visit? YES! Any connection to him is such a thrill, and such a blessing. And no, I didn't keep her waiting at the door hoping to savor the thought of her visit.

We sat in my living room, talking about my move to San Diego, bringing her up to date about the kids, and hearing what was new for her and her husband. Throughout all of our topics were references to Michael, which were wonderful. I loved hearing his name from another person. Isn't it amazing that such a simple thing can bring me such joy? She was sharing with me a conversation she had with another of Michael's close friends after his memorial. They were talking about how so many people had stood to talk about Michael at his memorial. What struck them was how each person spoke of the many years they had Michael in their lives. They felt that this must have been so difficult for me to hear, knowing that I was cheated out of the years we should have had together.

Her sharing this with me was another special gift. Thinking about this conversation brings me to tears. Lots of tears. For she was right. Those thoughts did cross my mind that day, and at our wedding, and at other occasions with all of Michael's friends. Because Michael's illness came very early into our relationship, I spent the next two years very aware that I would never have him as long as others. I would never have Michael as long as either of his exes.

Early into my loss of Michael I kept remembering the film "The Big Chill." I remember how Meg Tilly's character was in the very same situation. There she was, among all of her lover's friends, all of whom new him a whole lifetime compared to her few years. I remember watching the film, and wondering how she dealt with his friends talking about all the history with her lover that she was never a part of. That very dynamic occurred for me when his friends and I scattered some on his ashes in Big Sur last January.

Today, Michael's friend's message to me was this. Michael and I were certainly cheated out of so much that could have been. Yet what we had was beautiful to experience. We had so much love, and experienced so much of the life with both always dreamed of, all in that short time. It was a lifetime together no matter how many years we had, or didn't have.

In a way, I have been holding on to these thoughts all day long. Just like the card, I wanted to savor the words offered me to day, and savor the loving embrace that came with them.

This is a wordy post. My apologies.

For most of my day, about six hours, I was having the half-sleeve tattoo on my arm worked on. Combining all of the tattoos I have collected on my arm into one cohesive piece of art has been in the works for some time. Today's visit was the second session of maybe three or four. As I think I shared recently, the tattoo artist is a really nice guy. Because we spend so much time together during these sessions, we talk about our families, and experiences from the past. Michael is often part of what I am sharing.

Today, because he needed to work on the back side of my arm, he had me lay face down on a massage table, so that my left arm could rest flat while he worked. I had my face turned to the opposite side while he worked, and while we talked. At several times during this part of the session, the hand on my left arm would graze his arm, or would be shifted, and momentarily touch his jeans on his knee. It was simply from his needing to move my arm around to reach different areas of the tattoo. Yet this tiny movement brought a few brief tears, as it felt so intimate. I realized how long it has been since my hand has touched another man. I laid there thinking, this is how Michael's arm felt, this is how Michael's jeans felt. Now were talking about a momentary touch, that in reality was likely less than a minute. Occasionally he would reach out to move my arm by taking my hand, which also felt quite intimate. No, to anyone else it wouldn't have registered as intimate, but let's remember how long my hand has gone without touching another man, or how long it has been since my hand was held by another man.

A card.

A visit.

A touch.



  1. Again, this is such a nice post - and wonderfully written. The last part about touch was interesting. I don't really think I've touched another person since Don died. I do think we have cause to miss all of those tactile moments.

  2. Beautiful writing Dan. I look forward to reading your book one day :) I completely agree about how special it is to hear other people talking about our husbands. I find that as time moves on, less people mention him, so when someone does it is such a gift. I look forward to seeing a picture of your completed tatoo!

  3. I find that same response when I am at yoga, and one of the instructors comes over to push my shoulders back, or leans on my back to deepen a stretch - it is an intimate touch, from someone in their own center, and it relaxes something in me, that kindness. Reminds me that I was so much loved, and gives even just a flash of what it is to be touched by a calm presence.

  4. Can so relate, too, with the touching, and the talking. Have been getting massages every month or so, and it is always so good. But one time recently seemed especially intimate. Was from a man rather than a woman, but I don't think gender was at the root of this intimacy. It's more that this man is starting to know me a little bit, and my situation, and he seems to care, and talks a little about his own life. And the room was warm and dark, and his touch was sure and strong, and he is doing good work, and knows it, and knows I appreciate it....little things can certainly be magnified to people like us.