Monday, November 1, 2010

Day of the Dead

The photo accompanying this post is of a Day of the Dead shadow box that Michael and I purchased on our honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta. I recognize that the idea of purchasing such an item on our honeymoon might seem a bit morbid, yet it was done in a spirit of joy. We were newly married, and enjoying all the rights and celebrations that any other newlywed couple might. Why wouldn't we appreciate a bit of morbid humor when it comes to souvenirs.

Traditionally, Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is a holiday, and celebration, associated with Mexican traditions. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died.

Last year, in remembrance of Michael, I began the alter of items that has since grown, and now surrounds his urn. Throughout the past year, it has come to include many small treasures that my son Remy found at our local swap meet when we lived in San Francisco. It has collected some dried flowers, art work and sweet treats brought over by my daughter Arianne for special anniversary dates associated with Michael or I. It also has a few other small items given to me during the past year by friends, in relation to my grieving process. And of significance, is that now sitting there with these things are our wedding rings, and the urn necklace that I recently removed from my neck. Throughout the year, almost on a daily basis, I have also had tea lights burning, casting a warm glow as I sit, read, or write.

This year I have chosen not to add anything further. I need to begin the process of separation. I want to rely less on inanimate objects, and feel held more by my memories. I had a stronger need to hold onto these small treasures during the last year, and now feel the need to gently push myself a bit further along in my "moving forward" journey. The small treasures will remain on the alter until our next move, yet will not be unpacked when settled into our new home. Some will go into the urn with Michael's ashes, and the others in a keepsake box. I will always cherish these treasures, but not rely on them.

In thinking about Michael on this day, I think it goes without saying that I love and treasure him immensely. He brought so much joy into my life, and provided me with several loving and passionate years. And while I have been in quite an emotional slump these past few days, I can see my way out of it enough to appreciate the gift that Michael was to my life. I have never been more happy than when I was with him. One thing that I want to say today is that I am very grateful to all the people that were part of Michael's life before me. I feel like each and every one of them contributed to the beautiful person he was. Michael was an excellent story teller, and he had so many stories that he loved to tell, and re-tell, about his various adventures in the past. He would start telling me a story, then turn to me and say, "did I already tell you about this?" Of course he had, yet I always smiled and listened to it for the 100th time. It was later such a joy when I would able to meet the people that encompassed the stories, live in person. I would then be able to get the other side of the story, even though Michael always swore that his telling of it was the "truthful version."

I love to now tell 'Michael Stories.' They warm my heart, and put a smile on a face that doesn't have one naturally any longer. I know that in time these stories, and memories, and all the joy they carry, will become more predominate in my life. I know that with each day sorrow will lessen, as it already has. I know that the power of love will prevail, and my love for him, and his love for me, will propel me forward.


  1. At the beginning, we cannot even contemplate parting with anything of theirs ... or stuff that they have touched ... and then one day we seem to wake up with the realization that "Michael or Cliff or our spouse/soulmate" is not to be found in a pile of books, tools, furniture, or any other material things.

    I am going to join you on this venture and tidy away all the funeral stuff, sympathy cards, etc etc etc that surround the remainder of Cliff's ashes. AND I am finally going to wash up the cup and dish that has remained in the bedroom from that last morning together.

    It's time.

    I love you Dan xxx

  2. It is time. So well said, both of you. I did some more cleaning in our bedroom yesterday. I bought a new duvet cover and curtains and am feeling very peaceful in my changing surroundings. Austin's presence is still there, but it's less overwhelming than before, as I have put a lot of the dust collectors away that previously brought me comfort. Now they almost make it harder, so it's time to put them away.

    They are not in the stuff, they are in our memories and our hearts. That is such a liberating realization and it's taken me a long time to get there. As always, it's comforting to know I'm not alone..

    Love you guys! xxx

  3. Another couple who associated Day of the Dead with their honeymoon... Gavin and I too!