Thursday, 1/18/07. Mike died 6 months ago this morning.

[Photos for Ignatz and other readers who miss seeing Baxter's face on the blog. The photo on the left is so Mike it's a little weird. I took these last week. I bought him this Beatles T-shirt (R) and whenever he wears it he tells people that Daddy bought it for him - cause he knows that Mike loved the Beatles. And a funny tidbit to lighten this rather heavy post - Baxter is all about "Baxter's penis" right now. "Baxter has a big penis." "Baxter touch penis." "Mama please put lotion on Baxter's penis?" (Uh... no.) Oy yoy yoy. I have to imagine Mike is laughing somewhere.]

It's been 6 months to the day since Mike died. Feels like an appropriate time to reflect a bit on where I'm at and where I'm going.

Overall, I am proud of how I have been faring. I feel like I've continued to be productive and positive. I'm a good mother to baxter. He's happy, healthy, safe, and very loved. Yes I have to park him in front of the tv while I cook dinner or shower. Yes, he eats sugar cereal. Yes, he said "Holy Crap!" as an expression of joy when he opened a birthday present. But overall - he's doing great.

In spite of the events of the past year, I have finished the dissertation. Today and tomorrow I'm adding a bit of literature to the last two chapters, doing a final readthrough, and then...it's off to jo jo and then to my committee (by valentine's day). I have participated in academic conferences, got three different articles into the journal pipeline, taught a class I'd never taught, and am preparing to teach my first large lecture class. I'm very proud of all of that.

I've also re-entered the dating world. For good and bad. Good because of the excitement, promise, and energy it brings me. Bad because of the stress and uncertainty. I'm currently hanging out with bachelor #3. Different fellow than the one who got me through the holidays relatively unscathed. once holidays were over and i went to another dinner with #2, there was no real spark - a mutually acknowledged phenomenon. I will say, all three of these guys that I've met have been great. If anyone tells you that online dating sites don't work - don't believe it. I really think there are great people out there.

One thing that is difficult for me with the dating thing is that I want what I had. I want a best friend. I want a husband. I want someone I have a deep connection to - and i want it now. But that's not how dating works. It takes time to fall in love. It takes time to build a connection.

I had a weird moment in the movie theater with my date on Monday. Idiot I am, I suggested that we see "children of men." Apocalytic movie about violence, death, and chaos. Dumb danna. Anyhow - I'm in the movie, holding hands with my date and I start getting absorbed in the movie and then I snuggle up a bit more to him and look over, forgetting where/when/who/what I was doing - and I was like, "WHO the heck is THIS guy? Where's mike? " I got through the film just fine and he drove me home, but that night and the next day I was quite fucked up. My date understood - we talked about it a bit. He and I have been hanging out for a couple of weeks now and all cards are on the table. He even acknowledged that while we were holding hands walking through town he wondered if it was weird for me. And -- yes. It was weird.

Anyhow, the next day, after the apocalypse film and accompanying confusion and despair - I saw my therapist in the morning. It was just two days ago. Tuesday. I told him that I was so messed up in my head that I didn't know what to do with myself. Smoke cigarettes? They don't help anymore. Drink? That doesn't help anymore. I just wanted out. Maybe going back to bed would help. Dr. Cordier agreed. So, Tuesday, I slept straight from 10 am until 4 pm.

So, some days are just going to suck.

Last night I had a really intense dream about Mike. I was in the hospital. He was at his worst - all attached to all the machines dying. Then he died and they pulled the sheet over him. I was crying and crying and then, all of a sudden, we saw movement under the sheet. Mike was alive. I pulled the sheet off of him, and there he was. Smiling and bright eyed. Alive and happy. He grabbed for the lines and wires coming out of his arms out of annoyance and tried to pull them off. I explained that they were there to help him and he shouldn't pull them. He kissed my face and smiled.

Then I asked him a question:

"Are you ok? Do you have any pain?"

he looked at me inquisitively, "Pain?" he asked.

"Does your head hurt?" i clarified.

"Head?" he asked, still smiling.

"Smoosher, if you want pain medicine we can get some from the nurses."

"Medicine?" he asked.

He repeated everything I said. With a smile - oblivious. He was happy and smiling, but understood nothing I said. Nothing. No words held meaning for him. It was crushing.

Well, this entry is one big non sequitor.

Appropriate, I suppose.

6 months ago right now, his blood pressure was dropping. Slowly. Point by point. And we all just sat, watched, and cried. Wanting so much to touch him, but so afraid of the horrible scene. The end was worse than anything I've ever seen. It still haunts me. Often. Out of nowhere I picture him.

His spherical swollen hands and the thick fingers peeking out from under them. The huge dark purple patches all over him - from the clotting issues from the DIC. His unrecognizable face and neck - possibly two times their usual size. Buldging yellow eyeballs that they tried to tape shut, but couldn't. The rims of his lids turned inside out from the swelling. And the most horrific piece of all - the chattering of his jaw that simultaneously made him seem alive - and yet not in control of his own body. The constant seizures in the left hemisphere of his brain were causing these tremors, making his jaw chatter violently. This, combined with the extreme swelling in his tongue and the DIC meant that he was repeatedly biting his tongue and bleeding with no ability to clot. The nurses, Chris and Nicole, I think were their names, simply stood there with a towel, trying to keep his face clean and use a suction machine to clean the blood out of his mouth.

The thought was that we could at least keep him on until Lonia arrived. But that didn't happen. Eventually, the blood pressure dropped so far that the top number was under 50 and the bottom number was under 20. They asked if we could turn off the monitors. It felt so fucked up to shut them off. We lived for the monitor readings. It's what we had been doing for days, weeks, and months. But in the end, it didn't matter. It was just Mike and Mike's body. No reason to measure anything. Just let him go.

Everytime I write this, describe this, or talk about this, I feel a bit lighter. I may have to write about it again - maybe over and over. But ... eventually I'd be totally free from those images, left only with the picture of my brilliant, happy, shiny husband.


Anonymous said...

Hi Danna,

I don't know you but I wish I did. You are an amazing, wonderful person. Reading your blog has brought the Mama Bear out in me.

I can't give you any meaningful insights into what you're going through because I've never been through anything like it. But those terrible last days with Mike are just as much a part of you as those wonderful first days of when you met him and fell in love. Each step of your past has led you to now, to the awesome person that you are and the even awesom-er person you will be. That’s not Mike, I understand, but that’s not too shabby, either.

Please say that you’re still in therapy. And start using that treadmill! Regular exercise may help you to sleep better and releases more happy little endorphins than smoking ever could hope to (says the still-smoking-cause-she’s-an-idiot-blog-reader). Finally, please keep writing about Baxter as anyone that cute has the ability to melt glaciers.


Anonymous said...

I was thinking about Mike quite a lot this morning before I realized the date.

He does that. He just pops into my head at random times. For a second I am happy he's there and then I am immediately sad.

I still miss him a lot and it hasn't gotten any easier over the last few months and I thought it would, at least a little. Maybe this is what it will be for a while...

Love you, D-gal.

Jenny Stromer-Galley said...

You are amazing, and I love you.


Jalena said...

As an outsider looking in, but I dont feel like one after all this time and intimate details, I must say that I think you have done amazingly well. I am proud to be able to say,"I know that woman." No, the days are not going to miraculously get easier, but they will get easier with time. I know you want to forget the nightmare part and thats the part thats the slowest leaving, unfortunately. But in the end, the sun will shine again and in a more wonderful way than you may even dream. In the meantime, you have kept purpose in your life and that is smart. You sometimes push but then have the good sense to take a step back and take care of yourself. And best of all, you have Baxter. I too have missed the smiling face and the stories. Love the penis bit, remember when my son Lee was his age and also enthralled. And yes, at that age, its often the biggest part of their body!!! Brought a real smile to my face. Take care of yourself Dannagal, and dont forget us. We care how its going for you both.

Anonymous said...

Love, love, love you sister. You've come so far in the last six months. Baxter is just thriving. Your dissertation is done. You're teaching. You're meeting new people and having fun. You cleaned out the closet, etc. You're an incredible person. I'm so proud of you.

Love you, Michelle

Anonymous said...

Your posts are amazing, as are you. They help me through many a tough time. Like Jessie, Mike pops into my mind at the strangest times. I always think the same thing, "Man, I'm not over this yet!"


Anonymous said...

Dear Danna,

Although I think about you and Mike all the time, I hadn't been on the blog for a little while. Until tonight. Six months. A lifetime. An eyeblink.

Time never seems to make much sense when it comes to loss and longing.

I'm happy to hear that you're dating again -- I know Mike would want you to be happy. We all do. And Bax seems like a really great kid. I'm glad you guys have eachother. And he has his penis. His big penis.

love and fondness,

Anonymous said...

Six months already...
I didn't know Mike was sick until two weeks after he passed, so it was quite a shock. When Mike was on the CSZ stage, especially as ref, his teeth would gleam and sparkle in the lights. Maybe it was due to his stature. I miss Mike, too. At least Baxter has you for his Mom, huh?

A Loyal Fan

Anonymous said...

You and Baxter are rock stars.

Remember to tell Bax too much air guitar will make him go blind.

Love to you both from right around the corner.

Anonymous said...

Hey little buckaroo.

You know the drill. Fall down 7 times, get up 8. You better or I'll come over and smack you.

I'm proud of you. You continue to show me the way.


Anonymous said...

my nephew is the most adorable tyke on the planet!
and I am glad to know that in the time honored tradition of men everywhere, Baxter has fallen in love...with his penis.
all is well
love to you both,
your seester Diana

Dritsas said...

Here's a little story about Mike to help you get rid fo the bad images.

Mike's rule of thumb for portraying other races was, "if you play them as characters that have diginity, then you're safe." It's a good rule.

That said, there was one CSZ rehearsal at which we had a scene on stage for a game called Replay--where you replay the same scene in different styles. Mike and another CSZ player, who I can't remeber at the moment, kept entering the scene as male strippers, and when the scene style called was India, you can only imagine what happened--think Apu taking it off as a "hot cop".

I was in hysterics, and thinking the entire time, "Now, there's the most dignified Indian male stripper I've ever seen."

-Dr. Itsas

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