Sunday, August 9, 2009

the fog

When I met M, I had no intention of being in a relationship.

I had split up with my x, who was controlling manipulative, unfaithful and in general an ass. I was dating, and having a great time doing it.

We met at work, and initially I had no idea that we were actually dating. We had gone on 3 "dates" before I realized it and he had to tell me.

I found myself spending more and more time with him, this gringote who made me laugh so hard I snorted. I know, ladylike. But still. Not interested in a relationship, not intending on one, but being drawn back to him. Being drawn to his warmth. Just walking on the beach with him felt magical.

I have never, ever in my life been filled with the most incredible feeling of light as I was when we were together.

I don't need anyone to complete me. I am complete unto myself, and am able to deal with being *me*.

And yet... the feeling that my faults, while not inconsiquential, were meaningless in this context. The feeling that I was a part of something greater, an entity that was forming with or without my active participation was unreal.

When alone, i questioned how could this be?

This person was outside of my social and cultural context, frankly, during my working days had to build significant defenses in order to be able to function effectively. When you are treated as representative of your race/people all day, every day, you have to strive to put the best forward as any little slip can (and was) seen as "see!!! I told you puerto ricans' were_______" in fact, I was informed of how "we" were meeting stereotypes that I didn't even know existed.

It was not a right time for a relationship, on the heels of a break up of a 10 year marriage. I wasn't ready to put myself out there in any sort of meaningful way....

But. It was him.

It was light and joy, effortless, completion.

His touch on the small of my back transported me to new places, places I had never been to, calm still waters of the mind where only light was allowed.

And that never changed. No matter how angry, how upset or hurt we got with each other, just that touch, from him or me, took us back there, where nothing else mattered.

When he lay there, the last few days.... beyond responding, beyond answering me "I know" when I told him that I loved him... I whispered to him, I told him how much he meant to me, free flowing thoughts coming out, no coherence, probably badgering the poor man, but a constant stream, interrupted only by the many, many visits from his friends around the country.

I didn't believe he would die. I didn't think he would leave me.

But the hospice nurse said that he only had a few days. That if there were people to be contacted, that they should be.

So I went through his phone. I went through my emails for names of the people that he mentioned that meant something to. I called everyone I could think of, and emailed those I didn't find numbers for.

There were people in there he hadn't spoken to in quite some time. Those that couldn't make it sent emails, long ones filled with love that I read to him. People whom he hadn't spoken to in years dropping everything and flying across the country to see him one last time.

A constant barrage of people.

I busied myself w/ cleaning, hostessing, writing his friends, comforting his children, parents, being comforted in turn by them.

Attempting to make impossible decisions on should he have more pain medication? What did it mean when he scratched at himself restlessly? Was it pain, or was it something else? Was he trying to communicate and what would happen if he had more medication? Would it help him to rest? Would it help the family to bear it better if the moans that are typical of the dying (found this out later) were surpressed?

how could I make these decisions? How could I tell what was best for him? For them? For me?

For me, the best would have been to have him aware, to be able to talk to him, to know that he was ok with leaving, that he was leaving because he had to and not because he didn't love me enough to stay...

His best friend, Charles, pulled me aside, by request of the family because they were worried, and asked me to sit with him for awhile. Bitterly resenting the time spent away from M, even a minute felt too long, he asked me to breathe. to clear my head, and to talk to him about M.

I did. As much as I could, I talked to him about him. Charles was the person who spent the most time talking and visiting with M, outside of me, when he was in the hospital.

Charles told me that during these visits, he had talked to M about his leaving. They had discussed that if things didn't go the way that they wanted them to, what did M want for his family? For me? He said that M told him that he wanted me to know that if he left, it wasn't because he didn't want to stay, it wasn't because he didn't want to fight hard enough to stay, but that he just couldn't. That he would be always be there with me, and that he loved me more than anything else in this world, or the next. And that I'd never be alone. That he felt better leaving, because he knew I would continue to care for his children, at least as much as he did, even if in a different way.

He also told me that I needed to say goodbuy, that I needed to let M go. That it was his time, and his body was no longer a proper receptacle for his spirit, that the body had been corrupted and keeping him in it was torturous to him and not a way to honor the love that I have for him.

So, the family and I went in. We congregated around the bed. I, close to his head, my hands caressing him, holding him, telling him that it was ok, that he had done well, that could leave, that we loved him and forever would.

In my head and my heart was a constant screaming and wailing that belied the words that I said to him. I begged his with every fiber of my being not to leave me.

I sang to him, "you are my sunshine..."

Three endless, tortourous days of this.

People coming in and out, children, bringing light to his eyes, even briefly, the joy and the sparkle when baby E came.

Nights were mine. Laying on the floor beside his bed. Listening to him. Turning him when the pain became too great in one position. Rubbing his back and shoulders the way that he liked. singing to him, pouring every bit of mylove into him to strengthen him, for whatever his next step was.

His breathing becoming more and more labored.

Still not belieiving that he was dieing, sure that Universe would help him rally, that he would come back and be with me forever, I asked on that last night if someone could stay with him, for a couple of hours to try to get some sleep.

His sister agreed, she would stay in his room for 2 hours, and then we would shift off.

I went into his room at the time we had agreed. His constant moaning with each breath still rattling his chest and throat. She appeared to be asleep, so I went back to my place. Lay there, loving him, pouring out my prayers to the Universe for him, giving him every fiber of my being and strength, hoping against hope.

I hear movement, lift my head, there is his sister, gesturing me to her...

He's gone.

I go in. He is no longer there. There is only the shell left behind.

You never feel the deepest wounds in the instant that they happen. A deep knife cut, a rending of your skin, can't feel it until the nerves wake up.

At that moment, fog settled in my mind. I could no longer see beyond the next minute. His family came in, his father grabbing me by the shoulders "did he suffer?!?!" his mom wailing "my baby boy!!!!"

Me, mute.

I waited with him until the hospice nurse came. She declared it, and dressed him.

I went back in. There was heavy fog outside, obscuring his last view of the yard, the link fence, and the ocean that he loved.

The fog penetrated my thoughts, no longer able to feel or hear, numb.

His father, ever in charge, took down the information for the obituary, asking what mattered to people, conferring with me, with his children. All of us contributing. My only requests: Acknowledge his eldest child, whom he had no contact with to his everlasting sorrow, and the grandbabys. Gladly done.

M's father shepherded me through the process, driving me to the funeral home, making the arrangements, securing the times, and places, making the announcements.

I have no memory of most of this. All that existed was a longing to walk into that fog. The desire deep within in me to follow M on that journey, to traverse the path, just a few steps behind him... so easily achieved by walking down that path in the harbour, into the ocean...

I was not left alone for a moment. If i went to the bathroom, there was someone standing outside the door.

My son had driven from North Virginia to be there. He hovered.

M's children hovered.

I held people as they cried.

I watched the people coming in as they paid their respects.

I screamed, inside. Over and over again, words, communication filtered through the neverending screaming in my head.

Finally, a moment alone, and I screamed aloud. Over and over. I don't know how long I did that for.

I know that I slammed my hands over and over into the floor. That I flailed, i screamed and wailed my anguish. That my poor family, who collected outside my door, were forced to listen to this, without respite, until I collapsed.

There is just no way to describe, how when your soul is torn in two, the unending, unendurable agony.

Now, instead of the visible gaping wound, the surface has closed. I'm able to walk around, mingle with people. I can front, even laugh.

But even when surrounded, I am alone. I am separate from those around me, with a barrier in place that I don't think can ever be surmounted.

And when I drank the other night, it was an attempt to re-connect. To try to stop the pain, to find a way that I could feel something else again, even if briefly. The best that it did was that i felt nothing for a little while.

A very short while, and the aftemath was not worth that little bit of time. And the thought that if he saw me like that, he would not recognize me that I am a different person. That my soul has been shattered and what's left is a shell.

And the fog is still here.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

I awoke, as I do every day thinking of M.

When I go to sleep at night, I pray that the Universe who took him from me takes me.

I awake every morning enraged that I am still here.

I am playing a waiting game now.

I can't bear this.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I went to the cemetery yesterday with BFF.

In some ways it was anti climactic. The buildup of tension through several days in anticipation, the persistant intent to not focus on it, that a day was just a day and it didn't really matter that it was the 24th.

Forgetting that it comes in the dark of the moon. That the dark of the moon does things to me, makes me morose, creates a palpable difference in how I see the world.

often hormonal, yet not to be discounted.

I had written M a card. One of my (former) students was a an artist and had printed a number of blanks with her artwork on the front. Lovely work, as well.

I had one that had a vase with sunflowers, I thought it was appropriate.

I used to sing to M in the morning, you are my sunshine, my only sunshine...

I sang this song over and over to him as he lay dying. Making sure that he heard it, it never failed to bring a smile to his face. After he transitioned, with his soul in the room, I sang to him again, you are my sunshine, my only sunshine... until I was led from the room and away from his body.

I said many things to him.

I hate that place. i hate the site of his name on the plaque. I hate that it exists and that there is a place to go.

But having a place to go was strangely cathartic and comforting to leave his card there for him. The river stone his father had taken to him was still there, which was also comforting.

I also brought a pebble back with me from the "columbarium".

There's a fucked up word, if I've ever heard one.

After that buildup, being able to commune for a brief moment in time was comforting.

Monday, February 23, 2009

6 months - taking stock

I posted on a widow/widower site last night about my sister asking me whether i wanted to heal...

I'm not sick.

I am not ill, although I am symptomatic.

I am not injured, although I've been crippled.

I am not contagious, although apparently people have trouble being around me.

The pain is... different.

There are moments where it feels as if he is right there, next to me. I can feel his breath, hear his heart near me.

I turn, with his name on my lips...

I awaken, feeling the weight of his arm on my waist...

I grab my phone, to tell him something funny...

I am bereft without him. The pain is not as immediate. Not as sharp. It aches, it burns, it deepens every minute, but goes deeper.

Hard to explain. Don't know how to get this across...

6 months

half of a year.

It feels as if it's been an eternity since I felt his arms around me. Since I've felt him holding me. Since I ran my hand over his back, hitting all the spots that made him melt.

It's been over 6 months since I've heard him say my name, any of them. Since he said he loved me.

Since I've smelt that peculiar mix of scents that made him up to me.

It's been 6 months since I've bought him something to wear. Since I combed his hair, cleaned his face.

It's been six months since I gave him a sip of water, making sure that it went into his mouth.

It's been six months since I told him and knew he heard me that I love him. Since I heard him say in response "I know" a phrase he only started using days before he left me.

It's been six months.

And it's been forever.

How has it been six months? How is it possible that I still breathe? That I imitate life successfully enough that people around me are fooled?

How can I go on?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

some people get lucky...

Occidental Tourist

So I bought this the other day:

The Middle East in Cambridge was an important spot for M and I.

When we first started seeing each other, I had told M I danced there. So M went to see me dance...

Of course he went on a Monday. Dancing was reserved for Wednesdays and Sundays.

Mondays apparently were for "angry lesbian poetry night".

M went, and sat through it... very uncomfortably... eventually he asked a waitress when was the dancing supposed to start. She told him the nights it was scheduled for.

M eventually made it on the right night (and left a family celebration in which to do) where he saw me dance for the first time.

The Middle East was HUGE in our relationship, and many of the people there became like family.

we went very frequently, even when I wasn't performing just to spend time "where everybody knew our name"

Soooo, I see the etsy add (etsy is an auction site for artists, everything on there is made by the sellers and see the poster for sale. I fall in love with the poster, think about how wonderful the colors are, it's original art, it makes me smile, and M will love it.

I buy it and go to let M know...


No one to tell.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentine's Day

I'm invariably drawn to thoughts of M.

Today, last year, he was recovering from the persistent discomfort (and i now know) fear that haunted him January. He was preparing for his annual physical, which was to occur on the 11th.

We talked about what he would bring up. My concerns that his diet had deteriorated. My concern over his cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes... his concerns over what was happening with him, symptoms that he hadn't shared with me.

Every day is sinking deeper into the morass that was last year, at this time.

I keep thinking, so, while we were going to the movies, or I was working on a choreography, the cancer was this big.

And Valentines Day is looming.

As with so many other couples, it mattered to us. Different than in both of our previous relationships, we strove to make it so special for either.

I would cook for him, taking extra special care that the house looked nice (which I normally could care less about) making his favorite meal, setting the table, flowers, a card for him...

One of his favorite gifts from me is a pink muppet, that sings the manamana song, lights up, jaws move, and has movable arms that go with the song.

it was a very silly gift, but he lit up when he opened it.

It made him so happy, his words to me were that he had never felt as "special" to anyone as I made him feel.

It was a joy to do special things for him, to see his face light up, watch his shoulders shimmy (totally unconscious for him) when he was especially happy.

It's been a tough weekend.

And I have people around me who love me, who want to help me.

My sister heard me crying, great gasping sobs. She came upstairs with her partner and they bracketed me, holding and rocking me until I quieted.

I later watched them dancing, in the kitchen, just sharing a loving moment.

And I remember him.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

I miss being who I am.

I miss laughing.

I miss being able to relate to the world around me without the filter of grief.

I miss being able to laugh without having to cry.

I miss simple enjoyment of the world around me.

I miss listening to music.

Most of all, and I think this is the most important part, I miss seeing me through M's eyes. I miss living up to his opinion of me. I miss turning and catching him looking at me. I miss knowing that no matter what, I am loved and that I will always be special to someone.
M started feeling sick around December, 07, just before Christmass time.

He didn't tellme he was feeling sick, he just started rubbing his chest. I'd find his hand on his chest, and would get worried thinking he was feeling pressure.

When I asked him about it, he'd tell me he was uncomfortable, but not that he had pain, and always denied any pain in his chest, or his arm, etc.

I remember at the Christmas eve gathering at his parent's house, he wasn't eating the same. If there was something that M took pleasure in and over which we struggled, it was eating.

Last year, at Superbowl time, the house was shrouded with fleeces on the windows, M-speak, which i didn't know, for being scared.

He was preparing to watch the Superbowl, and was rooting for the Patriot's. Nothing inthe house could be changed, since they'd had a winning season, it was super important to him that the house remain the same for luck.

I was at a rehearsal for a show, and went to have a drink with friends afterwords...

M watched football on dvr. He'd record the game, not watch any news, would not answer his phone or speak to people until the game was over and he'd watched it.

While at the restaurant with my friends, the game was playing in the background...

it's hard to really describe the fanaticism of M and his family towards sports. EVERYONE in this group watched, understands and participates.

I've even seen members of the family going out and playing catch .

Even more, M's son is on the radio broadcasting now, just out of college.

These are fans, people.

In any case, when I saw that the Patriots had lost, I settled my bill and took off, getting home in a record 15 minutes.

I didn't say anything about the loss, believing that M had not seen the final score, since his habit was to watch the game behind real time.

It should have been at least the second clue that he was not well, he knew and the reaction was minimal. Given his histrionics all over the fan boards about the game and the posturing that he and others engaged in, his reaction was curiously understated.

I can't help re-living all the parts of last year, the year that was given over to Cancer.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I miss him so much. today was particularly bad.

I saw a very tall man at Au Bon Pan today.

He was taller even than M was, prolly about 6'6" or so.

M would have shouldered by him and smiled down at me.

For a moment, i thought he was there. I wished he was there.

I cried at the stupid sandwich counter

Monday, January 26, 2009

More Yoga

One of the attractions of hot yoga has been that it exhausts my waking mind so much that portions of my ...

well, I guess less conscious mind?

comes out to play.

So, I'm lying in savasana (ironically, corpse pose) where you lay on your back, arms at your side, palms up, heels touching, toes relaxed.

Between drowning in the humidity and heat, between the pain from moving through the poses, and the always present pain of the ripping loss of my heart....

I was so hot I lifted my tank top up, baring my belly. I don't do this. I don't like showing myself in the yoga class. No matter how hot, I don't do this.

I said to M, if you're really here, touch my belly.

M loved my belly. He would lay his head on it, we would talk about what it would have been like if we had children together. He would lay his hand on belly, trailing his fingers across it...

So, i felt the touch. I felt his fingers trailing across my belly, like he used to.

It ain't much, but it's all I have now.

Hot Yoga

still sucked. no, really. it sucked. I had a hard time doing the poses, had to stop and sit out some. I swear this was the hottest class EVER. I saw the thermostat, it was over 115 degrees farenheight(sp?) in there.

still, got through it.

just before I was talking to someone who I had spoken to before I stopped going (about 2 months ago). Honestly, though, my sister is the talkative one, but she recognized me.

She asked what got me into bikram, and I sort of talked a bit about M. I said that I started going last summer while my partner was very ill, and that it was just hard to go home.

I hadn't said that to anyone. I know that I went as a way to work through issues, once a week, in an environment that tested me. I know that it was cathartic.

But never that it was a way to avoid coming home.

While in savasana I thought about this. I thought about whether I had been trying to escape the reality that was my life. I was hit by feelings of guilt, that I had left him alone to go to something relatively frivolous and decidedly selfish. It was all for me, only for me.

For a moment, I was hit by a wave of guilt. Slammed, really.

And I felt M, right there with me, holding my hand. He reminded me that he wanted me to go to yoga, that he felt better when I was more relaxed and that it helped us both.

So what if I was hallucinating from the heat?

It was comforting.


I had dreamt of M way before I ever met.

I've alsways loved him, and always will.

My dreams were of one who would love me no matter what, who was kind, gentle, strong of will, character and person.

A man who was not afraid of himself, of the depth ofhis emotion or caring.

I found him, and was blessed to be with him, but for so short a time.

I've heard that I should be thankful for what we had, that most never get to experience something like this.


I am thankful, but it wasn't long enough. We were cheated out of what should have been and I will never be able to forget that.

Since M left, I've not had a dream with him in it. I've had dreams about him, but none actually of him.

I awoke yesterday from one. I didn't even realize that it was different. I awoke feeling his hands on me, his breath in my ear, his love surrounding me.

This sense of being loved carried me through my day. Sustained me and I didn't feel my loss as acutely as I have.

Until I ran across a card from a friend of his, honoring his memory. The friend described me as "the sparkle in his smile"


That was enough to send me spiraling down again.

Oh well.

Even if I only get to feel him in dreams...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

5 months

It has been 5 months today since my baby left.

I can't fathom how I've managed to survive, despite my best efforts.

I miss with a visceral ache that nothing makes better. There is no lessening of the pain, and in fact, there is more. I was in shock when he passed, I didn't think it would happen, I didn't believe that it would.

When it did, the arrangements were so fast, that within 30 hours there was a wake, within 42 the funeral mass.

I hate this. It's wrong and it's not fair.

I don't a flying fuck if that is immature. It's not fucking fair and it's not right. He should be here, holding me, loving me and doing the good that he was doing for people.

The man lived a life that was good. He was good to the disenfranchised, he helped those who could not help themselves.

He was a good man and I love him.

God, I miss him.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

excerpt from an email by M

Your name is written on my heart-- I think it was at birth. I wonder if-- on the day you were born-- my heart didn't start beating differently...

MSJ - 10.22.05

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I miss him

Nights and early mornings are the worst.

At night because that was when we were together. I miss cuddling into the circle of his arms, knowing that I was safe and loved.

I miss hearing his voice as he talked into my ear. He always said that he wasted his best material on me, as I'd drift to sleep within minutes of being in his arms.

Feeling the solid warmth of him snuggled into me, feeling the circle of his arms, his heart beating against my back, his breath against my neck.

Awakening in the morning, feeling how we've shifted, now my arms around him, my body pressed into his, feeling his body, my breath against his back, his body spooned into mine.

I'd start with gently, but firm pressure, rubbing his shoulders, his arms, trailing down his back, his hip, thigh.

He'd moan, push himself against my hand, tell me how good it felt to be touched, to be loved.

I miss him.
When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that, in truth, you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Kahlil Gibran

Monday, January 19, 2009


I'm trying to organize the clutter in my "dance room".

It's loaded with a filing cabinet that holds all my information for taxes, as well as lesson plans, routines, bla bla bla

I found in there the folder that M kept on his initial contact with Dr. Gonzalez in New York. He wrote a 2 page summary of why he wanted to meet with the doctor, his reasoning, and his reasons behind not accepting conventional medical treatment.

I remember the discussions we had when he was contemplating this step.

I know (intellectually) why he chose this route. I know (being reminded by what I read) that I supported this as the only way to keep hope alive for him (and for me).

It still sucks.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


it's in the title after all.

I have been studying Middle Eastern dance for the past 8 years.

During that time, the only constant in my life was dance.

I ate, slept, read, dreamed, everything was dance.

And the costumes.

Since M passed, I haven't been able to dance.

M was a huge part of this vocation. He went with me to gigs, was my bodyguard, my cheerleader, my all.

As he was my all in everything.

I'm told I need to get back to dancing, but how, when it hurts so much that something that we loved so much is lost to him?

Saturday, January 17, 2009


There is an annual science fiction and fantasy convention held at the Hyatt in Cambridge, Ma.

For the past couple of years, I've performed and danced there.

I love science fiction fantasy, but I confess that I was always unprepared to put on the type of performance that would have done the event justice.

Mind you, when people talk about costuming for the con, it's intense, months of preparation and work.

I'd just show up and well, dance.

This was the first place that M ever saw me teach to a group of complete novices in my genre of dance.

I have to admit, I am a damned fine teacher. I had the crowd dancing within an hour, the little girls following me around, looking at trying to mimic my moves.

I kept announcing if people wanted more information on my classes, they should see the tall man at the back of the room.

M didn't really enjoy the con, although he enjoyed our mutual friends who went.

If you've never been to a con, picture this...

tons of people, so many that the lobby is standing room only, the lines to the elevators stretch interminably.

just standing still you're apt to see representatives of Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, more elves and fairies than you can shake a wand at... not to mention weapon smiths, photographers, corseted individuals who may or may not be in costume and fans of all stripes.

Given that M was raised in suburbia, and lived for about a decade in Northern Vermont, this was... well. A shock to him.

Had to give him credit though, he was willing to go, hang out and spend time with me there.

First post

I've done most of my writing over at livejournal, and most of those have been locked posts at that.

This blog will be about my journey through grief.

I'm not sure how it will turn out, whether I'll make it through or not.

M was the love of my life. I knew he was my soul mate the first moment that he put his arms around me at the end of our first actual time spent together outside of work, and he knew I was his.

I met M at work. I knew him initially as the "Man from Vermont" or the "Lobster Claw" a nickname given to him by a co-worker given to his very ingrained handshake to women.

He was taught from an early age that women were fragile, and to complicate this, he was 6'4" inches tall and weighed well over 300 lbs.

He was the most gentle man that I have ever met.