Tuesday, October 10, 2006 - 1:45 pm

Mike’s birthday is Thursday, October 12. He’ll be 39.

He would have been 39.

I hate referring to him in the past tense. I find myself talking with strangers as though he’s just waiting for me at home. Yesterday, the cashier at the grocery store was talking about her niece’s relationship with a much older man and I said, “My husband and I always joke about our 9 year age difference. Just to annoy him I round it up to ten!” And somewhere inside me was a sinking feeling like I’m the weird lady with the dead husband who insists on talking about him in the present tense. I think if I talked about him in the past tense, people would think we were divorced – and I hate that. We’re in love. We didn’t break up. He was taken from me. It’s different.

I’m in a very weird place right now. Sympathy cards have all stopped coming in the mail. No more flowers. No more old pictures of Mike in my email inbox. Just Bax and me trying to take one day at a time. Everyone is moving forward. Our pregnant friends are getting closer and closer to giving birth to babies that Mike will never know.

And yet, I do I find myself looking ahead in the direction of good things to come.

I had an inspirational conversation with amazing woman yesterday. Her name is Sue and she is a friend of a friend. Sue is in her forties and lost her husband of four years to cancer when she was 30. She reached out to me to tell me that it does get easier and that there is a new life waiting for me. Sue is now happily married with a seven-year old daughter. She’s fun, energetic, and has a light about her. Talking to her helped me feel confident in my future happiness. It was also just powerful talking with someone whose experience is so similar to mine. She understands all the trappings that come with it. Being lonely and wanting to be with someone – but not wanting to betray the memory of the person you’re with. Being friends with mostly married people who you love, but who you don’t want to burden with your “third-wheelishness.” Wanting to do anything that feels good in excess – hence my rediscovered habit of smoking evening cigarettes – a pastime that I perfected during my year in France.

And now I find myself, for the first time in a very long time, allowing myself to be attracted to other people. People who are alive. People who aren’t sick. Suddenly, I’m in the present, inhabiting my own physical body – not just my mind.

I find that it’s the promise of a possible “something” in the future that is bringing me back into my own skin.

I know friends and family worry about my experiencing any more pain or loss. They don’t want me to get involved in some avoidable train wreck – which, let’s face it, is the most likely outcome of anything more than friendship right now. But emotional train wrecks involving lust and love - the fear and vulnerability that accompany any kind of attraction to another person – these are what make us alive.

Daydreaming about the “what ifs” in a positive way makes me feel young again. I remember sitting on my parents' deck, looking out at the mountains dreaming about the boy I loved in the summertime. Reveling in the melancholy of unrequited love. I used to think that those moments were filled with pain. That wasn’t pain. That was the essence of the human experience. Anxiously awaiting that phone call, running with anticipation to the mailbox in search of letters with a specific return address.

This is how I spent many of my days, until Mike and I fell in love, at which point the “what if” became “what is.”

But being back in that place, considering the many possibilities of intimate connections ahead of me, playing out the infinite scenarios in which I might connect romantically to another person, feels so therapeutic to me. It’s like coming home.

So, regardless of what direction my life takes me – please don’t worry for me. If I eventually connect with someone only to have it end in tears, at least I’m alive.

And more than Michael would want to see me put together, stable and safe, he would want to see me feeling alive.


Anonymous said...

Very little can make us feel more alive than being desired by someone else. We see ourselves in their eyes and that is always a good way to see ourselves. It's refreshing to feel wanted. You deserve to refresh your Self, D-gal. Enjoy!


CSM said...

Am sitting here in the Young family room after having spent a fun Weds. nite with Baxman. We sang Happy Birthday to Mike tonite in preparation for his birthday tomorrow... and Baxter gave Mike's pic lots of kisses. It was a great to see his little face so bright.

I have the luxury of being in the Young house every Weds. caring for Baxter-- so I get the Mike vibe every week... and this week, it's a really good happy vibe that I feel. Maybe it's b/c of his birthday... maybe it's because of Danna's last post... I dunno.

Anyway, if I may make a suggestion for tomorrow... wherever you are, grab a sweet treat in honor of Mike's day. And if you feel like singing Happy Bday to him-- go for it.


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Mike. We miss you.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Mike. We miss you.

Michaela said...

thinking of mike today.
remembering birthdays and fun times on american street.
our best birthday thoughts to you and baxman.
m, s,s, and s.

Victoria said...

Happy Birthday Mike, our angel. We celebrate your life today - the day that marks your grand entrance into this precious world. My birthday wish for you, our family, and your dear friends: That we will share a few more good moments with you. "Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world. (Edna St. Vincent Millay - Letters) We hold the hope that we will all celebrate together on the other side. In the meantime, I will light a candle...

Anonymous said...

Thinking of Mike on his birthday...the good energy that he brought to the world is very much still here and is growing, evolving.

Di of Diane & Kelly said...

Hey Danna, When my mother died, I found that I referred to her in the present when talking about her and quite frankly I didn't care what people thought, that was how I felt about her at that point.

She and my father remain very much alive in my memory even after 10+ years and that fact makes me very content.

Arizona Kate said...

Jeff and I had a glass of wine last night and toasted to Mike. We think about you all often.

Anonymous said...

I hope you got through Mike's birthday okay. Sometimes the anticipation of a birthday, holiday, anniversary is worse than the day itself. And then when you're on the other side, it's a relief.