Monday, August 22, 2011

Cliff Diving

Lately I've been taking some risks with my emotions. I don't know if I'm feeling stronger, or that I am learning that memories can begin to heal me. For the longest time I didn't look back to any of my prior writings. I put pictures and albums away, and have yet to unpack them from my move last year. Yet, in the last week I have begun opening some journals, and looking back at early entries in my blogs, both pre and post Michael's death.

Yesterday I had my extended family visiting. They don't live that far away, yet most of them had not taken the time to drive south to see my new home, or to really check in with me. When the weekend arrived one of my brothers called to ask what it was I really needed right now. Do I need quiet, or do I need company. He said he was aware that it was that time of year again. The time of year that is counting down to Michael's final days two years ago. He said he realized it must be quite difficult for me. I said yes, it was that time of year, and yes it is difficult most days. Yet I told him that more than anything, I need to have family around me. I need to know that they are there for me, and I need to be able to sit and share my thoughts and memories with them.

On Saturday we were all gathered, and my mother asked if I had any video, or recordings, of Michael's voice. I said that yes, I had a DVD of our wedding day, and Michael is saying his vows, and later giving a toast. I also told her that I haven't watched that DVD for about 18 months, as it always knocks me to my knees with grief. Everyone stopped what they were doing, and turned to focus their eyes on me. I could see that they were feeling the intensity of my emotions. My sister in law said of course it would be too difficult to watch right now. I took a deep breath, and moved the conversation in a different direction. I began reminding them of how much Michael loved all of them, and how much he loved our family gatherings. It was a very nice day.

Since then I have been replaying some of the last conversations I had with Michael. Today I was remembering the last birthday celebration I had with him. We had gone to Sedona for a week, and had a beautifully peaceful time. He gave me a beautiful pocket watch for my birthday, and a card with a picture of a cliff diver on it. He wanted to remind me, before it was too late, of how fearless I was, and how much he loved me. I cherish this card with all my heart.

Today, I have chosen to share it with you. I will edit out the beginning, as it is far more personal than I am prepared to share, but I do feel like I want Michael's voice to be heard today. After all, he is why I am here. And no, it is not my birthday, just a random memory that serves to remind me of who I was in his eyes. By remembering this, I can continue to reclaim the me that I thought was lost forever.

My Dearest Husband,

I suppose cliff diving would not phase you too much by now. You've taken so many great leaps of faith (like marrying me!) already.

Thank you for all your love, support and faith. I love you more and more each day. Like a fine wine you really are getting better each year, and I somehow got so lucky to share in your life.

Happy birthday, and every day after. Hope you like the watch. When you hear it ticking, think of my heart beating with yours.

I love you so much.



  1. A very thoughtful message from a man who loved you with all his being, Dan, a man whom you loved as deeply. You both are able to express yourselves in words and that serves us well, too. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Oh I remember you writing of that watch. That I know michael was a beautiful beautiful man is because of you.

    "remind me of who I was in his eyes" - thank you dan. Needed that this morning.

  3. Thank you for sharing this beautiful memory and Michaels lovely and loving words.
    I wanted to ask this community - how do we live and yet keep their memories alive without descending down the grief into despair?
    I find if I spend to long with his things, his writing etc. . . it becomes such sadness, yet if I don't i feel at almost a year out, the memories get blurry around the edges.
    Just wondering. . .

  4. Thank you again Dan. Thats reminded me of Special times with Steve and also brought a tear to my eye.

    What a beautiful memory to cherish xxx

    Huge hugs x Mark x

  5. To anon above...what a profound question you ask, and I wish I had the answer. All I can offer is to reach out to you and share my experience at 22 months out. For the most part, I have gone with my gut feelings. I think I'm the same as you, sometimes being around his belongings brings a feeling of comfort and safety, other times, it's too much, so I don't dwell there when my brain can't handle it. A year out is not a very long time in the land of grief, it's still very raw and fresh. For me, the ultimate goal is to have the memories that bring me happiness, and not live in the memories that are reflective of a long and devastating illness. I think we hang on so hard at first so the memories don't blur, but I also think eventually they will. But hopefully they will blur into the happy times where we can be thankful for what we had. Hard, I know. Don't push's far too soon. At the end of the day it's about coming to a place of acceptance, and I think that may take awhile, because all of the changes internally and externally are enormous. Just take one day at a time. This summer, I was able to go on a trip to a city I've never been to before (I never could have done it last summer, I was still in deep grief and isolation) but on my trip I took note of the fact that I had no memories with him there, unlike here at home, where he is everywhere. Now that I have a little more healing than last year, I'm able to begin making new memories. You're not there yet, and that is to be expected. Time is a good friend, especially when it comes to grief, so don't expect too much too soon. That's all I have to offer. Blessings and love to you on your journey to healing.

  6. BEST ADVICE I got from my kids doctor. Make time for grieving everyday and the move on to your life.
    It really helps you to fuction and heal. Grief is something we do not get over, but learn to with.It gets easier!
    Dan,good to tell others what we need.