Sunday, December 18, 2011

Open Wound

Sad Man

I wish I could report days of happiness and joy. But I can't.

I feel like I am walking around with an open wound. It's been like this throughout the whole holiday season. This year feels worst than the past two years. Why am I crying so much?

I suppose I can answer my own question.

Michael loved Christmas. He loved Christmas not because he had so many wonderful childhood memories, more because of all the magic and wonder it stood for. Michael always yearned for the good life. His life growing up was not easy. His mother worked two jobs to meet the needs of her two young boys. She was not a widow, but a woman forced to meet all of her children's needs due to a father who walked away.

I yearned to give Michael everything he wanted. He deserved it all. What did Michael want most? Me.

I gave Michael my heart completely. I held nothing back. I brought him into my life, into my home, into my family, then began planning for our life together. Just as those plans began to materialize Michael was diagnosed with cancer. It was a sobering wake up call. I learned that while my love would last the test of time, our time together would not.

I won't lie. I did my share of anticipatory grieving, yet I kept this in check. I would not be short changed out of any possible time of loving him, holding him and celebrating him. Take all of this...his love for Christmas, reminders everywhere I look and listen, and...tears. Lots of tears.

I'm a mess and I know it. I'm a mess and my boyfriend knows it. I'm a mess, and still, I am loved. I've decided not to run from it. I have never, ever, run from anything that appears scary or uncomfortable. I tend to be a "face it head on" type of guy. So if a song brings on emotion, I am allowing myself to sob as I sing. If my boyfriend's love and attention reminds me of what I lost, then the tears are again welcome.

I've decided to accept that I have this open wound. At the same time I have decided to accept that I have someone beside me willing, and wanting, to help me heal that wound. Abel is not expecting to completely fill the wound that I carry, and I don't necessarily want it completely filled. I think I want to feel both loved and fulfilled, yet with room to always acknowledge the place that only Michael occupies.

Open wound. Healing every day.


  1. Thank you for sharing this Dan.
    My husband died from a glioblastoma - a brain tumour so large I was told it was a miracle he lived at all. But he did. For 14 months he lived - we lived with an intensity of grief and joy and pain and moments so pure they still stop me in my tracks breathless. Watching someone die from brain cancer is its own kind of hell.
    My husband loved Christmas too. He was Santa in our family. I have found the last two months so painful. He has only been gone just over a year.
    Your email resonates so much - that open heart to have the memories and the love at the same time.
    I believe it is possible.
    Take good care.

  2. "Open wound. Healing every day."
    Says it all...
    thanks for sharing and helping all of our wounds heal-Chris

  3. Thank you for sharing your honesty. I feel like you were writing what was in my mind with only a few differences. My Michael loved the holidays and after his cancer diagnosis we celebrated bigger and brighter every after - we were so thankful for his time in remission. From Thanksgiving on the holiday season is so very painful, I push my self for the family that loves me but I feel so empty, half a person now and it hurts so much now, I cry and cry, I try to be thankful for him being in life, making me his bride and everything we were together, but the pain so deep, only those that have experienced this can understand how deep it is and hard this is, yes still after 27 months - how can that compare to 30 years of Christmas' together.......

  4. Dan - I love your pure honesty.
    This reminds me of something a friend of mine said many years after the stillbirth of her first child.... (and I paraphrase - the gist is there but my memory is not so good)...
    "For the first few years, the grief was like an open wound. Every small bump would send blood rushing from it until it brought me to my knees. But now, it is a beautifully ugly scar - I can run my fingers over it without screaming, and yet remember my baby girl with such love."

    Hugs to you.

  5. Dan, tomorrow will be the 1st Anniversary of Keith's death and like you I did my own share of anticipatory grieving over the 25 years that I nursed him through many illnesses. I did not let the grief get in the way of living though and neither did Keith. We knew from the start that our time would be limited together and no one ever expected us to have 25 years.
    This morning I am a mess and tomorrow I expect to be a bigger mess. That mess is loved by my family and friends and by one very special friend. They support me and love me no matter what and I glad for their help and love. In saying that nothing will ever replace the love that Keith and I had nor the love that you and Michael had. Our new loves are very different to our old loves because we are now very different people to the people we were when we fell in love the first time.

    I am sending my love across the miles to you and praying that we all have a gentle Christmas with memories that are not haunting, but bitter sweet and kind.

  6. I hear you, Dan. I am on my third Christmas this year also, and it's worse than the last two. The first year was so close to him passing, I think I was numb and still running on the adrenaline of years of caretaking. Last year was rough, but I gave myself credit that I pulled it off. This year I am like a zombie. Maybe it's because the shock has worn off? I don't know, but I'm dragging through every minute and look forward to it all being over with. And I hate having that attitude because I should be focusing on the spirituality of this holy holiday. I feel selfish wallowing. Everything about grief and bereavement is hard, but having to sustain it day in, and day out, every single day when I wake up with no end in sight is pure torture. I'm a fighter, but my energy is running on empty. Thanks for sharing and I will keep you in my prayers, that you will be able to enjoy some respite from this constant, very heavy burden.

  7. Don't feel alone, Because you love, because we are the same, because you cry the tears of the little boy inside who can never understand...I love you--my thoughts are around you like a comforting arm every day.