Friday, 1/5/07, 9:30 am

So, yesterday was the day. Mary and I did the entire job. Cleaned all of Mike's things out of the closet - chose a couple dozen shirts to send to my dad for the quilt. Packed up all sort of clothes which tomtom then brought to good will. We cleaned out his bureau - all his underwear, socks, shorts, t-shirts. Packed them up for good will. I cleaned out his bedside table drawer - his watches went in the special box for baxter.

I found Mike's little wooden box where he kept his earrings. When I met him he wore a little gold hoop earring. I think through my subtle prodding that disappeared within a year of our first date.

I cleaned out his briefcase from work. I found the discharge papers from March 17th when he went to the ER but the people didn't get that they were supposed to contact Dr. Evans. It was the next day that he was admitted and within 24 hours had completely unraveled.

I found the ATM receipt from April 3rd - the weekend he was allowed to come home prior to the big craniotomy on April 4th- after which he was never the same. On April 3rd he and I went into Jefferson to get some final scans done prior to the next morning's surgery. He made a deposit at the PNC bank there at 900 Walnut. That's the receipt I found. I cried so hard that I couldn't breathe. Mary took it from me, tore it up and threw it in the trash.

I also decided to use this opportunity to give my wedding dress to good will. I had planned on doing it forever- like before he got sick, but couldn't bring myself to do it. My wedding dress was insanely cheap. $299. I was so proud of paying so little for it. After our lakefront wedding, I wore the dress to dance in the grass and as we started playing beach games in the afternoon (sack races, rowboat races, wheelbarrow races)... and I never had it drycleaned. Anyhow, I brought it out of the closet and laid it on the floor in its big white bag. It looked eerily like a body bag. When I mentioned that to Mary she said. "Yeah, I know. I was thinking that same thing. Let's just put it away." So we rolled it up and put it in a good will bag.

It was so important to have Mary there. She kept me on task. She made sure that I didn't linger. She took bags of things directly downstairs or outside - out of our line of vision. But she also validated just how awful this was. As we cleaned out mike's t-shirt drawer, I had to touch every shirt as I placed them into the bag. She and I both were doing like yoga breathing... like deep deliberate breaths as though we were working out. Otherwise, it felt like we were holding our breath. Mary said that each time she exited the closet, she felt like she took a deep breath and wondered if she hadn't been breathing the whole time she was in there. It's true. that's exactly how it felt.

Mary was also smart about rearranging and organizing my things so that we didn't leave the closet looking totally empty or something. She spread things out so that it actually looks somewhat full.

I think that doing this was even more important than I originally thought.

Last night, for the first time since his illness or death, I had a dream about old Mike. Like, old, healthy happy mike was there visiting me. It was a reunion. It was as though letting him go allowed him to come back to me.

In the dream, we held each others' faces in our cupped hands. I kissed his cheeks, and the sides of his forehead. And then we kissed for real. Not the kind of kisses that I gave him while he was in the hospital - not the kind of kisses you give to an old person, or a child. But honest, passionate kisses that you give to the person you're in love with and attracted to. Given the fact that Baxter was a newborn in the spring of 2005 and Mike's symptoms started affected sex drive that summer - it feels like a lifetime since I had that kind of passionate physical connection with him.

The dream was all about the feeling of his body - his healthy soft skin. The feeling of his beard scratching my face. The feeling of his long shiny floppy hair. Looking in his flirty sparkling eyes.

In the dream, he didn't talk except to say one thing -- as I was unbuttoning his shirt he said with a sheepish smile, "Finally. Thank God."

We laughed and then smooshed.

I don't know if the "Finally. Thank God," statement was actually my subconscious saying to me, "Finally, Danna. Thank God you let go of these things. Now you can really connect with Mike the way you want to remember him." Or if, perhaps, it really was Mike thanking me for moving ahead and giving him a cue that he had permission to reenter my life as his old self.

So, that's that. It's done.


Anonymous said...

'teary eyed'

I've said it before, will say it again, and will continue to think YOU ARE AN AMAZING WOMAN!!!


Anonymous said...

WOW! I am so incredibly proud of you. You are moving forward and at the same time preserving important items for Baxter to have and caress when he is ready. This event, yes, event, of yesterday was so important in your healing process.. It is part of the process of all of us who must heal. To you, I say:"I am glad that you are taking each step and facing it; I am glad you are looking inward and facing what happened, I am glad you can put that in the p a s t while holding onto all the very happy and precious memories only you and Mike knew,and moving ahead into uncharted waters." AND..AND...I am so glad that you have such a wonderful friend in Mary who shared your entire story and was a part of it. Thank you so much Mary and TomTom. Some of us just are unable to or cannot do all that you have done. And all of your Philly family is so very special and was so kind and caring. What wonderful people!

Life has its ups and downs. Now it is time for you all to experience the ups, the daily joys, and the unknown happy future.

Love to you all and to your entire family and friends. May the happy stars of Heaven shine upon you, Baxter, and your family.

Anonymous said...

Love to you, Danna. Brave girl. I feel like each time you take another step forward, you allow all of us to do it, too. And Mike as well, as you said. Thank you. xoxo Megan

Anonymous said...

You're amazing. You should really thing about writing a book some day- maybe when things calm down (YEAH RIGHT). I truly think your strength and honesty would inspire others. It inspires me. Thank you.

annie said...

thank you for being honest. and brave. and real.

Doogman said...

Glad you can remember him this way - at his best as the man you loved.

I hope you see him again as I hope to see my lost loved ones.

From here I can feel the heat as you burn.

Burn bright - he can feel you too.

Lee said...

I linked to this through another blog. I could have told you what the name of the blog was 2 hours ago when I started reading.

I don't remember now.

This is what blogging was made for.

I hope that if I'm ever tested, I can exhibit the strength, poise, and grace that you have through what must have been a terrible, terrible time for a wife and mother.

God bless you and yours.

The Brain said...

I just want to say thank you to all who have posted. I keep hoping that our story can help people learn that even in the face of horrible things, there is beauty and the possibility for growth and change and peace.

I've written it before and I'll write it again - my strength comes, not from some intangible spirituality, but from the goodness of other people: friends, family, acquaintances and strangers alike.

Love to you all.

CryssyeR said...

I just found your site through Annie's. I agree with Judi - you are one AMAZING incredible woman. Anything I type now seems trivial, but thank you for continuing to write about things. I lost my Father-in-law to brain cancer in March 2006, and reading your words is helping me deal with it. Thank you for that.