Friday, March 25, 2011
Today's weather in San Diego was rather odd. There were moments that it would pour down heavy rainfall, then as if walking into a different room, complete bright sunshine. I was out attending to several appointments I had, so I was able to experience this in dramatic fashion as I drove along the freeway.
How similar it is with grief. There are definitely periods of long days of rain, followed by weeks of a lighter heart. It doesn't always move along with consistency, but can have some familiar seasons. In between such periods, I have found my grief to be more that of today's weather, moving along my day, and being caught off guard by a sudden outpouring of grief. Then, within a moment or two, the sun comes out, and my spirit is lifted.
Late in the day, and it would appear that the sun was won out.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
I feel like it's a "come clean" with my reality time once again.
I have been terribly unhappy. Okay, no big surprise.
I'm so burdened by my grief these days. I feel like I am carrying an enormous piece of baggage, and I'm getting so tired of the excess weight. I can feel the weight bearing on my heart, and on my shoulders. It makes any type of movement all the more strenous. And, for the most part, I only carry it around while at work. The rest of my time I come home, sit it beside me, and choose to take the easy way out, meaning go nowhere with it.
I am alone.
Yes, I do have my kids, yet only one at home at present. He is twelve, and at this point that means forced meals together, and some side by side computer time. He is quite content to be out with his friends, and that is the way it should be. As for me, I just want him to be busy enough to not notice how depressed, and stagnant his father is.
I feel like a cloister.
I live in a world of silence these days. There is little person to person interaction in my life. The whole world has moved on, yet I am still here, mourning, and somewhat giving up. I go to work each day, and do my job. I have a little interaction here and there, but most of my opportunity to talk with another person happens on the phone, or in person, with clients. I tend to work long days. Not because I have a lot of work to do, quite the contrary, I have too much time on my hands at the office. I'm finding that it is not as challenging as I would like it to be. But it, like me, is a work in progress. I don't rush to leave, as there is no real pay off in returning home.
The days go by painstakingly slow. Lunch time comes, and though I may be hungry, I'm in no rush to do anything about it. I quietly walk out the building, and get into my car. Most of the time this too is in silence. I sit in my car, then realize I have no where to go, and no one to go there with. I think that because my position is that of a floater, it makes it hard to connect with other folks at work, and more difficult to maintain friendships. Just when I think I'm getting to know people, or them me, well, it's time to move on once again.
You know, people may hear this of me, and think that I should just stop dwelling on the past. Most have no idea that my life feels so empty. I don't know what others think I am filling my time with, but all I can come up with is empty space.
That's it. My life feels so empty.
This is not a cry for help. Lord knows I did enough of that in my car today. It's just me, trying to be real with my readers. 18 months out, and I'm a real fucking mess. I've thought about getting back into therapy, which I most likely will do, so nobody needs to leave me a list of shoulds. The reality here is this. Life is shit. You give your heart to someone, and that someone is taken away.
Oops. I think he took my heart with him. Maybe I should have asked for it back before he left.
How do I explain this. I was very happy. Even after the devesating news that he would die of a brain tumor. I still had him, so I managed to find happiness while I battled that damn tumor. Now I have nothing. About now most are scratching their heads. Nothing? Well, yes. Nothing. Nothing has replaced the pain and emptiness that placed upon me 18 months ago. And, remember people, 18 months is not that long ago. So many people expect me to be different at this point. What point? My husband died. Wouldn't you be different if your spouse died? Of course you would be, and not for the better.
Last week my mother gave me a gem. I don't even know is she realizes it. My brother is having a birthday party for my sister in law. I love my sister in law, in fact I just call her my sister, as that's who she is to me. Yet, I can't see myself at a party with a bunch of couples, laughing and having a good time. What they don't realize is that one of Michael's most happy memories together was having party/gathering at their home. It was the first time he was meeting all of my family together, and my brother and sister made him feel so much at ease by their joyous nature. I can still picture him smiling, and laughing in their patio.
Back to the gem. My mother was talking to my sister, and explained that it would be unrealistic to expect me to go to such a party. My mother reminded her that while the rest of them have kept moving forward, life for me has moved extremely slow. She said that the rest of my family just doesn't realize this. She is so right. If they did, they would realize how slow, and quiet, my life continues to be.
Well, this was not meant to be a woe is me type of post. I just don't want my newly widowed readers to think that at 18 months, Dan, in real time, is doing exceptionally well. It just doesn't work that way. I know what people want to hear. I know what people don't want to hear. And, I know what people would prefer for me.
Sorry folks, that's not my reality.
My reality is that it is a hard and difficult road. It's also a very long, and lonely road. Sometimes I wish it was a dead end, but it's not. I know that I must keep walking. And, I know that I will to continue walking. Just not as fast as you might think.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
I knew the day would come, that I would attend my first funeral since that of Michael's. I often wondered what the situation would be, and why I would chose to put myself in such a place. After all, people would understand, right?
Maybe it was because of the type of loss, that I felt moved to do so. Maybe it was because I didn't really know those in pain too well. Maybe because I did know those so closely affected by the loss that I felt moved to stand among them.
It's very hard to understand why people are taken from this earth at such early times. Of course, "taken early" is such a relative term. When Michael was taken, that is what I felt. When people made comments to me, that is what they said. Yet, when you see the pain of those left behind, I suppose that any age is considered too soon.
In this case, it was too soon for my mind, and heart, to understand. At least with Michael, I could say that he lived a life full of many adventures. He lived, and traveled all over the world. He touched the lives of people on many continents. And although I don't know the type of pain Michael's mother necessarily felt, having to say goodbye to her adult son, I tell myself that at least she got to see him grow into such a wonderful man. She got to feel the pride of watching him achieve so many of his goals and dreams. And, she got to walk him down the isle, and marry a man who loved him dearly.
Friday's funeral was for one much younger. Friday's funeral was for a child, only 21 months.
Not long before starting my present job, a young woman from my office left to concentrate on raising her two boys, and focus on higher education. I know of her because she is very much loved by the friends I have made in the office. And although I haven't had the opportunity to socialize with her, her name, and those of her husband, and two young boys, come up in conversation all the time. There have been a few times when she has visited the office, once with her baby boy, and we were able to meet. Each time since that initial meeting, we both smile and greet each other. It's a smile of knowing that we share a friend, one that we both enjoy, and find emotional support from.
When I learned of her child's sudden death, it brought such sorrow to my heart. For one, I know loss, and for another, I could to see the pain it caused in those close to her. After the funeral there was a social gathering in a nearby hall. I sat with friends from the office, and spoke quietly with them. When it was time to leave, I took a deep breath, and found the courage to walk up toward her. Part of me didn't want to see that familiar look in her eyes. Part of me didn't want to see how burdened she would be with her grief. Yet, I knew that I had a gift to offer her, and that was the knowing.
I don't know the pain of losing a child, but I know the pain of having your heart torn apart. I know that look of trying to make sense of something that is beyond us. I know that darkness that must be walked through.
I walked up to her, and saw myself in her. It was a face I know so well.
A gentle embrace.
I'm here if you need someone who knows.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
I tell you, my experience of parenthood has definitely been an interesting one. I must also say, that my experience has been a difficult one.
During the past week, my 12 year old has been once again obsessed with reading. He has always been the type, that once he finds something of interest, he gets completely lost in it. Recently it has been The Hunger Games book trilogy. To my amazement, he read all three books in only 7 days. Now, there were two competing, or contributing, factors here. For one, he found himself loving the first one. About the same time, I mistakenly ordered two Kindles online, and really didn't want to go through the trouble of sending one back. I initially offered it to my daughter, who always has a book in her hand. But she is a die hard paperback reader, and said she could never give up actual books. Remy, on the other hand, simply saw the opportunity to own yet another electronic gadget. I suppose he gets it from me.
To prove his point, that he would make good use of the Kindle, Remy began reading his books on it night and day. Of course, when ever I walked by his bedroom I would stop and make him turn out the light, and get some sleep. I suspect that he waited for me to go to bed, then just flicked the light back on.
Yesterday morning Remy was very tired. He said he was so tired that he felt sick. That didn't go far with me, as I just instructed him to get ready for school. He then went down his usual litany of symptoms, that were meant to prove to me that he really needed to stay home, including having a hallucination.
"Right Remy. Nice try."
I arrived home from work last night around 6pm. Remy was sitting on the couch, looking catatonic. "Hey, did you do your homework?" These words were met with the slightest eye movement, as if to say, of course not. I then firmly told him to get to the table and get started. That is when I began to see that something was very wrong.
At first I thought he was just acting silly, or trying to work my last nerve. He kept looking around the room. He would mumble words that I couldn't understand, and he would get up, and walk around the room without any purpose. At one point I turned to him and asked what he was doing. He responded the "she" needed to use the bathroom, and he was showing her the way. He then turned, and began talking to "her."
From that point on I began to see that he was completely out of touch with reality. I was in the room, but I don't think he really knew who I was. Every time I asked him a question he would begin to answer, then get lost in thought, as if his mind's course got disconnected. I started looking into his eyes. I looked around the kitchen to see if he had mistakenly, or not mistakenly, took some medication. I began asking if he took any pills, or if someone gave him something to ingest. He just kept looking at me as if I were far, far away.
I then explained to him that we needed to go to the hospital, because something was very wrong with him. He said okay, but didn't know what the reason was. In fact, he was more compliant than I have ever seen him. As if my words were his thoughts. I would say stop, and rather than ask why, he would just stop in his tracks without any response. At the hospital emergency room, everyone was watching him, as it was clear that something odd was occurring. Almost immediately we were escorted to the triage nurse, who attempted to take all of his vitals, but we had a difficult time getting him to stay put, as he just kept wandering. She then had us wait in a different waiting area than the rest, as we didn't know what he would do. Our wait was very long, and I had to constantly redirect him from walking away.
Eventually we ended up in a private room, where they drew blood, took a urine sample, and ran an EKG. During our very long wait, he was constantly interacting with characters from the books, and it was clear, that I was not always dad, but some friend of his. After awhile I began to really worry. Would he come out of this? What was the cause? I didn't know if I wanted there to be a cause. It would be simple for the cause to be drug induced, right? But then, did I want to learn that my 12 year old had taken some kind of drug? Then I thought, but what if it isn't drugs? Then it could be something much more serious. What if he had some kind of psychotic break, and what if he doesn't come out of it.
Well, we were there for over 7 hours, and in the end all of the test results came back negative. Eventually the doctors and nurses just looked at me, and asked what I wanted to do. It was obvious that I knew how to handle the situation, as I remained so calm and focused during the entire night. Occasionally my mind kept gravitating to Michael. I kept wondering what else lied ahead for me in life. What other challenges would I have to face alone. Then I just paused, prayed, and also asked Michael to be with me so I wouldn't feel so alone.
Finally, about 3am we headed back to the parking garage for our car. I didn't know what was ahead, and he didn't know what was happening, but he did seem to trust me. We drove home, had something to eat, then both climbed into my bed. I wanted to wrap my arms around him, and hold him close to me. But then I had to remember that I wasn't "Dad" at the time, I was some dude. He just looked over at me, and with a quick lift of the chin, he said in a very 'guy to a guy' way, goodnight.
In the morning, I was awakened by the sound of our animals, who were at my door, wondering where their morning meal was. I started to get up, then looked over at Remy. He sat up, looked at me, and walked out of the room. I sat there wondering if he was back, and if not, who I would be this morning. I walked out into the kitchen, and said good morning. He looked up, and smiled, good morning Dad.
After breakfast, Remy wanted to go to school. I explained that we needed to stay home today, as I needed to watch his behavior. Throughout the day he has been piecing together his whole evening. He says he felt like he was awake in a dream. It is all coming back to him, and he can even remember who he thought I was, and why he was responding to me in certain way. I looked up his symptoms online, and found that the lack of sleep can certainly bring on hallucinations. We have an appointment tomorrow afternoon with his psychiatrist, and hopefully he will agree that it was because of the sleep deprivation.
All I know is that he is back, and I am thankful. It's nights like last night that I can truly recognize the gifts that Michael left with me. He left me a good helping of his calmness. He left me feeling like I am more than capable of taking on what life puts in front of me. I wish my life, or the life of my children, didn't have to be so complicated. But, if it need be, then I am grateful to all that contribute to my being able to respond to their needs.
Monday, March 14, 2011
This afternoon my 17 year old son dislocated a finger while playing basketball at school. I met his school counselor at the hospital E.R., and waited while they got the finger back in position, and took some x-rays. Turns out he had a chip fracture.
On the drive taking him back to his group home he turns to me and asks,
"Dad, have you ever had something broken in your body?"
Friday, March 11, 2011
Earlier today I took my son to get his hair cut. He's the Emo kid with the cool do, so I always have to pick a stylist that will make him happy. As I sat their waiting for him to be ever so perfectly coiffed, I began looking through the latest Details men's magazine. I flipped through a few of the pages, then came across an article titled "5 Ways to Look Younger In Less Than 30 Minutes."
I really need to read this!
I have aged so much these past few years. I used to look in the mirror and like what I saw. I used to get told that I looked too young for my age. I used to be in great shape. I used to...you get the idea.
I have completely fallen apart. I know when the downfall began, It was October 2007, when Michael was diagnosed with his tumor. From that day forward I stopped taking care of myself. Before that day, I used to love exercising, eating well, and all the other good healthy stuff. I wish I could get back there, but I'm not so sure I have it in me anymore.
I'm really wanting to start dating again. Not that I'll be much good at it, or not that I'm necessarily ready to fall in love again, but I desperately need a distraction from my current life.
Trying to date again is not so easy. I'm a single parent once again. I have a 12 year old son at home. It's not like I'm going to leave him here alone and ggo bar hopping at night. Besides, I'm too much of a wallflower, and have no clue what to do if I do find myself in a bar. Basically, all this leaves me to is the Internet dating sites. So there I am, for all the other single gay dudes to see. The problem is, nobody has written me back. What the hell is wrong with me?
I know that my status as a widower might be a bit of a downer, and perhaps that I have three lovely children might not be what other single gay dudes are looking for, yet this is who I am. But, in anticipation of possibly meeting someone, and going on a date, I need to get my act together, start exercising again, and do something about this recent aging that has taken place.
I know that having a husband who suffered from a brain tumor took it's toll on me. I also know that spending the past 18 months grieving didn't help matters either. So, when I saw this article, I thought wow, just what I need.
5 Ways to Look Younger In Less Than 30 Minutes
1. Enhance your hair color. What? I used to color my hair. But then, I used to do a lot of things to look younger. The women all tell me not to touch my salt and pepper hair. And, I'll admit, I do love my gray, but do the guys? To be honest, most guys my age that I come across here in town, do color their hair. It does have me thinking...it might make me look a bit younger, but I highly doubt that the new growth a month later would. Okay, skip step one.
2. Refresh you skin. Easier said than done. Here the article talked about botox, fillers, and chemical peels. It listed this procedure as taking only about 10 minutes. Hey, I've got ten minutes! Poke, fill and peel away! Oh, what? It costs $2000., and only lasts 6 months? Never mind. Honestly, I'm not ruling this out. I have never been against people doing things to enhance their looks. I've just been against me spending that kind of money to do so. The guy that I see for massage actually does skin care full time. I think I will start with a nice facial, and go from there.
3. Tame your eyebrows. Amen! I completely agree with this. What is with all the bushy eyebrows that reach out 3 to 4 inches in front of men's faces? I just don't get it. Sometimes I want to walk around town with a small pair of shears, and just do these guys a favor. Clip the damn things, will you! I agree, trimming the brows does give one a more youthful and refreshed look. Problem here is that I trim my brows on a regular basis, so I don't benefit from step 3 at all. Next!
4. Get a tan. Now, not that I am a sun worshiper, but in the past I was a regular visitor at the tanning salon. This was more in my working out-buffed days. I agree, a bit of sun does give one a healthy glow, but I would more likely stick with the spray on tans. Given that I am spending more and more time working in my garden, I think I will soon develop just the right amount of bronze color to truly look like the Latino that I am. So, rather than spending money on a good spray job, I'll just stick to the natural way, and have my face receive a little color as I work hard to develop my nice farmer's tan.
5. Perfect your smile. Well, I don't think I'm going for perfect, but I think I am covered here. About the time that I first met Michael, I had spent way too much money on Invisalign braces. I was very pleased with the results. Of course I haven't exactly been wearing my retainer since then, but I did recently find it at the bottom of box. I'm afraid of putting it back on, as I'm sure that my teeth have moved. I know that this will mean pure torture each night if I really want to get my teeth back to where they were expensively paid to be.
So, looking younger in just 30 minutes isn't as simple as it would appear. Along with these 30 short minutes are a number chemicals, dollars and painful situations.
I think not.
So, when the stylist was done with Remy, and he looked adorably cute, (Remy, not the stylist), I looked up and asked if he had time for another haircut. He said sure, he could fit me in. He cleaned off the chair, and draped me with the cape. As he fastened it around my neck, he asked, "what can I do for you today?"
Can you make me look younger?
Saturday, March 5, 2011
I had a satisfying day. It started with an early morning trip to my favorite place in the world, The Home Depot. Go ahead and laugh, but I love this place. Whenever I walk through the store I am in my element, and at peace. It is pure nirvana.
I got a couple of unsolicited comments in the checkout line, as my cart was overflowing with gardening and yard work items. I had six pots of bush lilies, bark ground covering, a new water hose, water hose reel, a rake, and an old fashioned push reel lawn mower.
"Are you going to get all that done today?"
"I guess we know how you're spending your weekend."
It was kind of funny. I love chatting with people at Home Depot. Everyone is always involved in some kind of project. And, everyone loves to talk, and give advice. I also love working on the yard, especially the front yard. It always gives me the opportunity to talk to people as they come walking by. Most of the day I didn't see a soul around, but it was kind of hot, and I suppose most wanted to stay in where it was cool. Not me, obviously. When the air began to cool off, the sidewalks began to fill with folks walking their dogs, or pushing baby strollers. That's when I get to talk to people. They always ask about the house, and if I am enjoying it. Apparently everyone in the neighborhood had been through my house before I bought it. I suppose whenever a house goes on the market, everyone is curious how it compares to their own. I love it, as my house is so different from every other house in the area, so there is always some fun questions asked.
Toward the end of the afternoon I pulled out a lounge chair, and sat under my tree reading online. Modern technology meets good old fashioned relaxation. As is usually the case after a day like this, my poor old body is sufficiently sore. My son, Remy, reminded me that I have that big lovely bath tub, that has only been used once. He also reminded me that I had bought all those bath and spa products, so I should go soak in them, and completely relax. I did just that, and it was wonderful.
Now the house is quiet, well, except for the sound of two boys hollering at the electronic game they are playing in the far off bedroom. Unfortunately, the hollering and laughter will be going on late into the night, as Remy has a friend sleeping over. Damn, I should have invited a friend to sleep over too!
Thursday, March 3, 2011
There is nothing like a good bloodletting.
Now, I know that the practice of bloodletting is for the most part considered non-beneficial, yet I have tried it in the past. Years ago I suffered from serious back problems, and at the time was trying every conceivable treatment. One practitioner I was seeing for acupuncture offered this as one type of intervention. It was actually a very cool experience. No, I didn't open a large vein and just bleed out, he simply made slight cuts at the back of my legs to let some of the toxins drain from my system.
Sometimes I look at my writing as a bit of a bloodletting. These past few days have been what I would consider dark and infectious. I had been feeling so blue, and not knowing how to pull myself out of it, I chose to do what usually works best for me. I allowed myself to go deep within myself, and to be honest with myself, honest with you, about the depths of my grief burdened thoughts and feelings.
When I find myself in this type of familiar territory, I know that one thing that can turn things around is to get back to my writing. It allows me to make slight cuts into my psyche, and allows me to slowly bleed out all my emotional toxins. Are they completely gone? Of course not, but my mood, and my ability to function, have been given a reprieve.
There was definitely a lightness about my day. I felt much more connected to the people around me. I was able to see the sun up in the sky, and feel a sense of appreciation. I was able to seek out conversation with people that feed my soul. As I relaxed here at home I could feel myself wanting to fall back into that murky place, but I resisted, and decided to keep the connection going. Tonight, that connection is a collective you.
If you are reading, you are feeding me.
If you are reading, you are instrumental in cutting through that thick layer of grief that can weigh me down.
If you are reading, you are considered a companion who walks beside me.
I thank you.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
I've been sitting here in my living room, with a fire going, trying to busy myself all evening on this computer. It is as quiet as ever. My son has been in his room playing games online, but even he has been quiet for quite some time. I figure he must have fallen asleep while playing, which is what tends to happen each evening.
I have been reworking my profile on the social networks, in hopes of creating some new friendships. I was even bold enough to send out a few emails these past couple of days to guys that seemed to have similar interests, but to no avail.
I keep wondering, what the hell am I doing here?
I don't even really know what I mean by this question. Am I wondering what I am doing here in San Diego? Was this a good move for me? Am I wondering why I sit here every night rather than get out of the house? Am I wondering how it is that I find myself in the state of mind, with these circumstances, with my husband dead, and me alone? Or am I wondering why I am still here on this earth?
Last week my cousin's young adult daughter went into the hospital to have her fourth baby. The doctors had told her to stop getting pregnant, as it was too much of a strain on her body. She was scheduled for a cesarean, and while in surgery, began to bleed out, and almost died. It was touch and go for most of the week, and everyone was preparing for the worst. I'm told that she had another surgery a couple of days ago, and it looks like she is going to make it.
Yesterday, one of my second cousins had a massive stroke. He is only 50 years old. I'm told that he was out having lunch with his son, and began to feel quite ill. He has been in a coma ever since. It's my understanding that his is experiencing intra-cranial bleeding, and may not pull through. Again, everyone is in shock.
I have been having ongoing telephone conversations with various family members, all trying to keep up with how each of our family members are doing. It's a crazy time. I've felt bad, as the cousin who's daughter is still struggling in the hospital, is one who I was very close to growing up. A couple of years ago, I left Michael at home with the kids, arranged for someone to check in on him, as he was still going through chemo, and flew down to So. California to be with my cousin when her father was dying. It was my father's only surviving brother, and I knew that he, and my cousin, could use some support. A week later, Michael, the kids, and I, drove back down to attend my uncle's funeral. I introduced Michael to my cousin, as she didn't attend our wedding. I never even got a response from her. Within the year, Michael was also dead, and once again, I never got any acknowledgement from my cousin. It hurt me so much. My parents keep trying to make sense of it. They keep thinking that of course she meant to contact me, after all, we have always been so close. And yet, nothing.
You know, I have many wonderful relatives, many of whom came to our wedding, or sent gifts and cards to us. I had many who sent lovely cards and messages, when Michael died. I also have many, like my cousin, who have never even acknowledged my loss. This is very painful to me. At this point, I choose not to participate in any type of gathering that might include family members that have chosen to look away from me, or to acknowledge that I had a love, or that I lost my love.
Sitting here, with the glass doors all around me, I can see the empty patio chairs that I have tastefully arranged on my back deck. There are six of them, all positioned into a square, all ready to be occupied by visitors. I start to wonder, who will fill those chairs? Will there be a time when I will have friends in the area, or family members willing to make the drive here, just to sit, and visit.
You know, I'm a private person, and yet, I'm also a social person. I don't like large loud groups, but I do like being surrounded by people that I love, and that love me in return. Lately, I tend to think that those that see themselves as close to me fail to see how empty my life continues to be. They fail to see that without Michael here beside me, I am empty.
There are chairs all around my house. Empty.
In my darker moments, I start to wonder why certain people have to be taken away so young. I think I am almost there with not questioning about Michael being taken so soon. He is gone, and I accept that. But if I am perfectly honest, I must say that I also sometimes wonder why I am not taken. Why is my cousin lying in a coma? Why is my niece still in the intensive care rather than home with her new baby? Why are these young people so close to death, when there is someone right here who wouldn't be too bent out of shape to get his exit papers?
Don't worry, I'm not suicidal or anything. It's just that in the past I was part of a couple, a fairly young, and new couple, who people looked at and said, why them? I was the one left standing, with people looking at me and saying, why him? I'm no longer part of something young and vibrant. I'm now someone who people would say, well, at least he is now with Michael again. Isn't that strange? Somehow, I think people would feel like it was okay, that maybe I would now be happy again.
I'm surviving. But I am empty.
Just thoughts that are occupying my head.