I just finally pulled myself up off of the basement floor. This is not where I was supposed to be right now. I was supposed to be watching American idol on the couch, not sitting out on my porch with a cigarette, drinking a jack and diet coke from the paper take-out cup I got at McDonalds, wiping tears as I purge everything into my computer.

But, around 8:15, I got an email from Mike’s sister, Dr. Diana, telling me that Mike’s 107 year old Chinese grandmother had passed peacefully around lunchtime. People wonder why Mr. Responsible Mike Young didn’t have a big life insurance policy? Well, if you had 20/20 vision, low cholesterol, an excellent bill of health and a 107 year old grandmother, you wouldn’t either.

So, I go into the filing cabinet in the basement to find the annual report from the nursing home that Mom Young was living at. In 2004, we got a copy of it from Chris, Mike’s Dad. It featured Mom Young on the cover, looking so precious in a wide-brimmed white hat. She was so tiny… like four feet and change. I met her once in summer 04. We were pregnant with Bax. I think her comment (in Chinese) was, “She is SO BIG.”

So I’m in the basement hunting for this picture of Mom Young, and I can’t find it. What I do find, though are Mike’s special folders, where he saved a handful of important things. One had all sorts of greeting cards from people. One had every card and love letter I had ever given him. One had playbills from all his shows. I don’t know why I hadn’t come upon the first two before. Perhaps I had, but I wasn’t ready to look.

In the cards to him were these amazing hand-written notes from all different people who loved him. Cards that all say how much Mike meant to them. How he is one of their favorite people in the whole world. How, as a friend, mentor, and director, he had changed their lives. Cards from Mary Carpenter, Cheryl, Bobbi, Peter, Andy, Jessie… and the list goes on.

If anyone ever had doubts about to what extent Mike realized how loved he was, this should clear that right up. He clearly cherished these. They were neatly arranged, all facing the same way, no messy envelopes accompanying them. Just the cards with these magical words from loved ones.

Then there was the folder with my notes to him.

Some were homemade cards, anniversary and valentines cards, but most were just “I love you” cards:

And a letter I sent him in August 2000: “…did I mention that I love how you like to play, and how your eyes light up when you laugh, and how you can always put a smile on my face, and how quickly you’ve mastered the art of smooshing, and how you keep chocolate in your candy bowl, and how electrifying your touch is, and what a wonderful cook you are, and how beautiful your voice shounds when you sing harmony, and how it feels when you reach over and touch my knee in the movie theater, and how you like late breakfasts and politics Sunday mornings, and how you appreciate the simple things, like time in the park, and what a joy it is to have you as my best friend? I love you. In dearest smooshliness, danna.”

January 2001: “I love you, my smoosher. I love playing with you, kissing you, laughing with you… I always feel like I want to make things for you, or write to you or do something to express how much I love you. The only thing that comes close to satisfying, though, is the simple act of smooshing. I love you.”

For our first wedding anniversary (June 2004): “Thank you for an amazing year – the first of many laughter-filled years together. Not only do I feel lucky that I found you, but I feel lucky that our love grows each day. I can remember a time when I was restless and couldn’t seem to be content. That seems like lifetimes ago. I love sharing my life with you. It’s just so… good. A year from now, we’ll be sharing our anniversary with our 6 month old nugget! Can you believe that!? What a wonderful life we have waiting for us. I love you so much. Love, smoosher.”

Finally, I found a pile of cards that he stockpiled to give for birthdays and other special occasions.

But, on top, was one of those square "Fresh Ink" cards. He never signed it. But the copy read:

“Driving home, knowing it’s just you, me, movies and take-out for the rest of the night….i love that.”

It was like he saved it and tonight finally gave it to me.

F*ck. As always, I know I’ll be fine. But this sucks so much. We had a lot of living to do together. I rarely talk about that because I hate how the words even make me feel… but here they are: It’s not fair. We weren’t done. And Mike certainly wasn’t.

But, unlike most of us, he went out on top. Someone recently said to me, “He’s like Hendrix.” He’ll always be young, brilliant, and very alive. Not shriveled up, shuffling slowly through the Thriftway on Tuesdays for the 5% senior citizen discount. So, there’s something, right?

And Mom Young, I hope you and your grandson are tap-dancing together...on the moon.


Anonymous said...

My grief counselor likes to call the moment you described a "STUG", or "sudden turn of unexpected grief". I like having a word for it when it comes up and smacks me in the face.

But Danna, that was a tough one. You rode it out though. Some people would have closed that cabinet drawer right up, but you put yourself in there and let yourself feel the longing and the sadness until you got to the point where you saw something different: your intense love and connection. I bet Mike was with you and guiding you all the way.

Wishing you peace, AJ

Julian Hsu said...

Hi Danna,

I've never commented before, but I have been very affected by your writing, and have now read all you've written here. I don't know what to say other than that I wish you and Bax well- it just feels important to say something.

And I think I'm going to go home and remove the messy envelopes from the file containing all the cards and letters my wife has given me. And maybe put another one there as well.

Thank you so much.

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