Don't look back, we're not headed that way.
Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "hiker_tom" journal:
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More than 7 years since my last post. I am very happily married. I have a different career entirely that will take me through the rest of my working life and provide a moderate affluence. My beloved dog is a gentlemanly older fellow, snoozing nearby. Michael died more than 17 years ago. I still think of him daily, though briefly.
Slip slidin' away|
Criminy, it has been nearly 5 years since I posted last. I guess this is what happens when you are too busy living life rather than documenting it. The boyfriend and I are engaged and waiting for CA law to allow us to marry. He lives here but still has his place down the road. I have had a dog for 4 years. The dog is 46 pounds of unadulterated love and affection. Career #1
is dead. I am in a decent holding pattern job while I gear up for career #2
, probably commencing sometime in 2015. You can never have too many degrees, I say. The Mom is physically healthy but on very shaky ground cognitively. The sands shift on a daily sometimes hourly basis. Systems are in place. The sun rises and sets and rises again. Michael is never far from my thoughts. Now when the ache happens, many months in between appearances, it totally catches me by surprise, now, 10 years later.
Visiting the Mom|
I was crashed out on my Mother's sofa when she said, from the kitchen, “Have you seen Michael?” I froze, my first thought being dementia. She then said, “Have you been to the cemetery lately?” I lied and said yes.
She then told me that he appeared to her in a dream, exactly the same way he had showed up in my dreams. She said she was dreaming, and then noticed Michael standing off to one side. “Michael,” she exclaimed, “Are you hungry? Let me make you something!” She then woke up. I asked if she saw his face and if he seemed happy, but she did not remember because she woke up so suddenly.
I live here.|
This is harder than I thought: a journal about bereavement, five years gone. I work hard to always look forward and take ownership of my own happiness, and that makes it harder to do this. I realize that I started this journal as a way to anchor the past and stop it from drifting further and further away. Life doesn’t work that way, at least, not a healthy one.
This one thing does not change: I think about Michael every day. I try to capture the memory of his face and make it real. I imagine my hand on his cheek. And then I move on: the career, the next career, the boyfriend, my family, the children who are now mostly adults, my life.
A few days back, I was at Woody’s in Laguna, enjoying the prix fixe, the lush red wine, the delightful intellect across the table, my boyfriend beside me, my hand in his. It was dark out, this cool winter night, and the ocean was an unseen but still formidable presence.
That is sort of what it is like. I am in the restaurant but I am also outside. The difference now, as opposed to three years ago, is that I am not looking in. I am both my past and my future, no longer fractured and warring.
Just thinking about it...|
"And I felt so very happy in a way I suspect no longer can happen to me in the waking world."
"I always bring you back afterwards."|
This morning, I had dream with Michael in it. I’m not sure if it was Michael or a dream of Michael but it was nice. I had a regular dream, but at the conclusion of the dream it was like riding a motorcycle slowly: being transported away or back, and I felt Michael's arms around me. I said, “Hey! It’s you!” and he said, “Of course, I always bring you back afterwards.” And I felt so very happy in a way I suspect no longer can happen to me in the waking world.
I enjoyed it for a moment and then he said, “You’re a tired Teddy” which confuses everything because that is something my boyfriend says when I am tired.
So this was really just a dream of a dream. I'll take what I can get, and say "please" and "thank-you" just the same. I then spent a few sweet moments, awake with closed eyes, remembering.
Sunday, at my beloved Long Beach airport, after a delightful weekend away with the boyfriend, I noticed a woman also waiting for baggage to be unloaded. We glared at each other, she on her little wheelchair-scooter thing, me trying to eye the bags on the belt though the crowd. After a minute, I walked over and said her name. I knew her from Michael's church, perhaps 10 years ago. Her face transformed when she smiled. I told her my name. We chatted amiably. She asked me if I still went to church. "No," I said, "I never really did, that was Michael's thing." There was no recognition. While I was familiar to her, she did not remember me, or Michael, or ponder the man with me who was not Michael. I was off the hook. It has been nearly a year since I have had to tell someone that Michael died, in 2000, of cancer. That look, fearful and pitying, and very, very awkward. Not this time--I helped her with her bag and my boyfriend and I chatted with her pleasantly as we all strolled to the curb. Then we all sped into the cool damp night, clasped in affectionate arms, home again and safe from our travels.
Always, perhaps not|
I started this blog as a place to archive my thoughts as a widower, and then... nothing. I have been incredibly busy with work, life, elder-care issues and trips with my boyfriend. And then out of the blue:
I was packing for the weekend getaway and popped in the DVD "Always" (1989) for background noise while I did things around the house. Although it is one of my favorite older films, I had not seen it probably in a decade. 5 minutes into the film, amidst the Richard Dreyfuss smugness and Holly Hunter twang, as I crossed from bedroom to living room, wham, punched in the gut, I went down. I doubled over and lay on the floor silently, eyes wet, as grief washed over me. I could almost still hear the echo of my fall. I miss Michael so much. That damn DVD, seeing them before they lose their friend and lover was so much harder than after. Knowing, dammit.
I had not felt it like that in over a year. I lay there for less than a minute and then reached over and turned off the DVD, leapt up as if on springs, and resumed packing. I needed to be done and out the door. My boyfriend was due in half an hour. This DVD will be put away, perhaps given away.
Either someone slipped me some Ecstasy, or, damn, Katella Deli has the best effin' 4 bean salad. I have been walking around the office making people try it. Any minute now I will be crossing the line from indulged and idiosyncratic to weird.
This weekend: lounging in the somewhat dull city of Palm Springs, but I will be at an all-guy resort with the boyfriend, which will be very, very nice. I anticipate hiking, both above and below the tram, and poolside frolics.
I, Hiker_Tom, being of sound mind and... you know the drill|
I finally got around to sending estate revisions in to my lawyer. I had been procrastinating on this for months and even had the packet of legal papers in my briefcase for several weeks. It took all of five minutes to describe the changes in an e-mail to the Law Offices of Anthony M. Cosio on Redondo Boulevard. I figure in about a week or so, I'll drop by, sign some papers and cut them a check. Those guys took really good care of me back then, and I will always be grateful.
I really meant to do this before I hopped on several planes, trains and automobiles for my recent Chicago vacation with the boyfriend.
The last time I made estate changes was shortly after Michael's death. I was still in shock and, in retrospect, I made a couple of short-sighted decisions that I now am correcting. It was a rush because with Michael gone, if something happened to me, our house and our property would be jointly split between our families. I barely knew Michael's family, and needed to focus the living trust towards my own friends and family. When the original trust was written, it did not really occur to us that one of us would die and leave the other alone. I had some vague idea of a plane crash or fiery car wreck... but together.
I keep all of the estate planning stuff in a clear plastic envelope. It still contains Michael's life insurance stuff, 401k paperwork and his death certificates. When someone dies, you need several copies of death certificates for things like insurance, the DMV, the bank. For the next two years after his death, I had banking transactions and tax stuff that required me to present the death certificate. I had to go to his old office and get his W-2.
Now, in 2005, the death certificates are just paper. They don't hurt me the way they once did. I can toss my briefcase onto the extra chair in my office and see the plastic folder peek out--and it is just some stuff I need to take care of.
It was very different in 2000. I remember sitting in the New Accounts area of Union Bank in Belmont Shore, closing out Michael's portion of our joint account and setting up the fraud alerts. I was in the exact same chair I had sat in half a dozen years before when we opened this account when we moved to Long Beach and started house shopping. It was like having some sort of horrible double vision. Fortunately, I was numb and in shock and the bank people were really nice about the big bear dude in a leather jacket weeping silently while signing and initialing papers.
That was not nearly as hard as explaining to the non-English-speaking dry cleaner lady about lymphoma and why she had not seen Michael lately. All of our laundry tags had his name, since he would usually drop stuff off and I would pick it up. She only knew us by his name, which I am sure is now long forgotten.
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