Monday, October 19, 2009

The gift of love and grief

Happy Anniversary Dear. In celebration of this occasion, I am sharing our wedding vows.

"Michael. Thank you for the gift of your love. Sometimes the best gifts in life are those that are unexpected, and I honestly had given up the expectation that I would find someone like you. Thank you for noticing me in that crowded bar, and thank you for not running away when you saw that I drove a mini-van.

I love you with all of my heart. I am moved by the sweetness your eyes convey to me. I love the joy in your smile; I can't help but smile in return. And most importantly, I feel the sincerity of your love for me by your embrace.

Today I choose to commit myself to you as my husband. I vow to cherish each day that we are given together as a blessing. I vow to learn from your patience, and to share with you my strength. I promise to meet all challenges, and celebrate all joys, with you hand in hand. My love for you is eternal."


"Dan. I take pride in joining my life to yours today in the presence of our family and friends. Before them, I vow to take you as my husband from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish you, with all of my heart.

Our paths through life have crossed, by destiny or chance I do not know, but now they have merged into one. Side by side, step by step, we will continue on together stronger than before. I love you, and I promise to be there for you, and for our family, for as long as God grants us. Whatever the future may hold, I hope that in the reflection of the sun off the sea, or light glimmering off the rings that we will exchange, you will always see and remember the joy and love we shared today."


Tonight I was reflecting with Arianne, that although this past month has been one of considerable grief with the loss of Michael, all the days that led to his leaving this earth were of pure joy and beauty. I am comforted in knowing that we lived out our love and time together fully in the present. We embraced the joys and the tears each day, never forgetting to proclaim our love for each other. And while I truly miss Michael's physical embrace, I find myself held together by his caring heart.

Michael is perhaps the most peaceful man I have had the good fortune to meet. He provided me with such calm, and with such awe. A boyish grin, with a sparkle in his eyes, Michael quickly reigned me in, and I was putty in his hands.

In these past few weeks I have been very self-indulgent. I have spent much time alone in thought and meditation. I am learning the practice of grieving mindfully. My guide is a helpful book by Sameet M. Kumar, Ph.D. It is a Buddhist approach to coping with loss. In this book S. Kumar says that "grieving mindfully can be understood as being consciously aware of the intense pain of love after loss. Grieving mindfully is the process of using your emotional vulnerability not to suffer greater distress, or to intensify your pain, but to redirect this pain toward your growth as a human being."

Hence forth, I begin my practice of meditating mindfully. I seek to be open to all of my thoughts and feelings. I hope to find comfort in their familiarity. I expect to carry grief with me for some time forward, yet in time, to recognize the life giving gifts that grief will teach me.

It was exactly one year ago today, that Michael and I had the honor of confirming our lives as One, with our exchanging of vows and rings. We knew there were no certainties, yet we chose to take the great leap of faith. Michael's favorite part of the ceremony was the Sand Ceremony, where we combined our individual colors of sand into one vase, forming a lovely pattern. This pattern was symbolic of how our lives had become in-twined. One day we came home to find that the sand had somehow been knocked over, or shaken. And while you could still make out the prior pattern, the sand was further blended. Our initial reaction was one of disappointment, yet by stepping back and reflecting on the new image, we accepted that like our own life as a couple, the differences were becoming less remarkable, and there was comfort in the blended outcome.

Clearly this blending of lives, of souls, tends to come with time and age. In our case the universe, God, must have needed a flour sifter to help us blend at a quicker pace. Such was our destiny and our fate.

Will I cry with my loss today? Yes. But I will also remind myself that I carry Michael's love within me, and he soars with mine. I can no longer separate the different particles which originated from him, and those originating with me. I am changed, I hope all of you realize that you too are changed.

We cannot grieve unless we have loved. At some point today, raise a glass to the love in your life, tell the people you love how much you are changed, simply because they love you. Treasure this gift, like the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is only able to grow and offer us immortality if it is rooted in bitter waters. Draw strength from your relationships, especially during bitter times. Remember that this love will nourish you to grow. Let it feed you, and in time you will feel yourself branching out towards the heavens. Carry this image within you, trust it when difficult times revisit.

Our family draws strength from all of you. I will keep this site open for all who want to share their thoughts, yet this will be my last journal entry. I plan to keep writing, yet feel it is time to begin writing from a new place. I thank all of you for traveling with us on this amazing and heartbreaking journey. I never felt alone, nor did Michael. I'm not sure what direction my wiriting will take, but in time you are all welcome to find me, and share a part of yourself with me.

Love. Dan

Monday, September 21, 2009

My constant companion...Pain

Originally uploaded by Lacking Focus

Saturday was Michael's Celebration of life. I couldn't be more please with the collective love and energy that brought Michael's closest friends together to make this day happen. There were people there from the various stops along Michael's life path, and there were many who came that had never met Michael, but who wanted to pay tribute to the man who captured my heart in such a meaningful way.

I certainly felt a spirit of connection between all of us in the chapel that day, and hope that this connection will keep us strong in the coming days, weeks and years that lie ahead of us. I know that I will be looking to each of you in some small way to keep my spirits up, to remind me of Michael's endless stories, and to share with me a sense of his joy.

Right know I am in so much pain. I physically ache for the lack of Michael's presence. I want so badly to be awakened from this horrible dream, and to have Michael back in my arms. I am lost. I know that time has to take it's course, and that time is supposed to make me heal. Yet, I'm not so sure I want to be healed. This pain is real because my love and desire for Michael is real. I don't want to give up that love and desire, so is pain to be my new companion?

I suppose pain has been there all along. Pain has entered my life many times during these past 50 years. Pain most notably made itself known to me on October 16, 2007. That's the day I howled at the morning sky, I cursed the winds, and I unearthed a dark gloom within me never before recognized. On the morning of September 13th that dark gloom found it's way back into my consciousness, and lodged itself in my heart. I feel it's weight. I am almost doubled over by it's volume, not sure how to completely dislodge it from my chest.

Pain such as this, I did not welcome in. Pain such as this, it has me in it's grip. Yet pain such as this, I cannot say is completely unfamiliar. I have met this pain before, and have seen it around me. I saw this pain in others on Saturday, and I have seen it in others who also walk in grief.

In this past week I have felt like a ghost, not fully here, not fully there. I'm not even sure I want others to notice me as I move about my world. I have a need to be lost, to wander without a map, a plan, or a purpose. Yet I cannot fully indulge in this desire, as I am attached to this world. I am attached to you. I am attached to my kids. I am attached to the many people who love me, who loved Michael, and to the many people who don't even know us, but perhaps crossed our paths in everyday life.

As I have been writing this I have been aware of some distant music playing in the background. At first I thought it was coming from Arianne's room, then perhaps a neighbor's home. Just know I realized the music is far too familiar. It is one of Michael's favorite pieces, Songs from A Secret Garden. I had this CD playing constantly during Michael's final hours. I must have somehow accidentally turned the player on without notice.

"Accident?" "Purpose-full?"

As I turn up the volume, and beautiful music fills my room, my constant companion, "Pain," is being soothed. Tears help Pain to be less intrusive.

Earlier I asked Michael to return to me. I didn't want to continue without him, it was too painful. Maybe Michael's love, Michael's eyes, Michael's smile, Michael's joy, Michael's arms will ease me through this. Maybe he can ease us all through this.

Yesterday I fell asleep on the living room couch, and for a split second I dreamed Michael. He stood there before me with a sly grin on his face, and his eyes flickering with humor, and then he was gone. This split second brought me a sense of peace, and for the first time, a smile on my face .

Love. Dan

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Michael's Memorial

Our dear friend David has written detailed information about Michael's memorial service, which I have included. I hope to see many of you on Saturday.

Please know that I, and Michael's family, greatly appreciate the healing words of support that we continue to receive. It is all of you who are keeping me afloat.

With all my love.



Dear Family and Friends of Mike:

Mike's Memorial Service will take place this Saturday, 19 September, from 2-4pm, at 351 Buena Vista Ave. East, San Francisco 94117.

A mapquest link:

The Service is in the complex where David Takacs (a friend of Mike's) lives. His telephone numbers are 415.606.8217 (cell) and 415.487.1017 (home). Please contact him if you need any helpful information.

This may be the only neighborhood in San Francisco where parking is plentiful. When you arrive, someone will be at the door to direct you to the Chapel. Note that it will likely be cooler in San Francisco than wherever you've been coming from, and the chapel is also cool.

For those who wish to make a donation in Mike’s name, please do so to the National Brain Tumor Society. See

Hotels: In the event that you are staying the night, here are the names and contact info for a few convenient, affordable (by SF standards!) hotels:

The Metro Hotel, 319 Divisidero St., 94117, 415.861.5364,
The CarlHotel, 198 Carl St. 94117; 415.661.5697,
Le Grenier Bed & Breakfast, 347 Noe Street 94114, 415.964.4748
The Parker Guest House, 888.520.7275, 520 Church St. 94114
Travelodge Central, 1707 Market St., 415.621.6775,


From the North Bay: Note that the 19th St. Off ramp is closed until noon on Saturday. Instead:
From the right-most toll booth off the bridge, make your immediate right onto Merchant Ave.
Right on Lincoln Blvd.
First left (note: Not the first left you come to, which is one way the wrong way) on Kobbe.
First right onto Washington.
Follow Washingtonthrough the Presidio.
When Washingtonends, merge right onto Arguello.
At the stop sign (golf course on right), continue on Arguello for another mile or so until Arguello dead ends at Golden GatePark.
Left on Fulton.
First right, on Stanyan.
At the second light (major intersection), left on Oak Street.
In a little less than a mile, the Panhandle (green space on your left) ends. At that light, you make a right onto Baker.
Follow Baker up the hill. It turns into Buena Vista East. Take Buena Vista East up until you see a huge pink building. That's your destination.

From the East Bay: Give yourself extra time for weekend traffic on the Bay Bridge
After the BayBridge, go several exits until the exit to "Golden Gate Bridge/101." Exit there.
Stay in your left lane.
The off ramp will eventually dump you onto Octavia Blvd.
Take Octavia until it ends. It will force you to take a left onto Fell St.
Take Fell St.for about a mile. Cross Divisidero (two gas stations on left).
Then take your second left, onto Baker Street. (DMV on left.)
Follow Baker up the hill. It turns into Buena Vista East. Take Buena Vista East up until you see a huge pink building. That's your destination.

From the SouthBay
Take 280 until the highway splits right before you reach the city.
Take the right fork, towards "80/Bay Bridge."
Exit at San Jose. Avenue.
Stay in your left lane.
Immediately after the light, make a left onto Dolores.
Stay on Dolores about 1.5-2 miles. After Dolores Park, left on 18th Street.
Stay on Castro about 5 blocks, and make a right on Castro Street.
Stay on Castro about a mile. Left on 14th Street.
Take 14th to the very top of the hill. Right on Buena Vista Terrace.
At the stop sign, left on Buena Vista East. Take Buena Vista East up until you see a huge pink building. That's your destination.

From SFO:
Supershuttle (the blue and yellow vans): Tell them "Buena VistaPark, between the Castro and the Haight."
You can also take BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to 16th Street and then take a cab. Supershuttle is easier and about as cheap.
If driving, follow directions above from SouthBay.

Public Transit:
MUNI to Church Street.
At the base of 14th Street, in front of the liquor store, you can catch the 37 bus. Tell the Bus Driver you're stopping at Park Hill. Warning: The bus runs only about once/half hour.

We look forward to seeing you.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Journey is the Reward

the journey is the reward
Originally uploaded by Toni_V

"To love for the sake of being loved is human,
but to love for the sake of loving is angelic"

~Alphonse de Lamartine

"Say not in grief 'he is no more'

but live in thankfulness that he was."

~Hebrew proverb

"The journey is the reward"

~Tao saying

Celebration of Michael's Life

A Memorial-Celebration of Life will be held for Michael Lowrie in San Francisco on Saturday, September 19, 2009, from 2 to 4pm. Details regarding the location will be forthcoming.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

An Angel earns his wings

Bring me back to life,
originally uploaded by Lacking Focus.
A Warrior becomes an Angel...earns his wings.

Michael left this world at 6:05 am.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sitting vigil with Michael

Originally uploaded by andrewlee1967

Sitting vigil with Michael.

He sleeps, quietly, trustingly.

Michael is no longer able to tell me what his needs are. He has put his trust in me, and I must trust my instincts when it comes to maintaining the optimal level of medication throughout the day.

This is actually my second attempt at a journal entry today. My first draft, I'll call it, was mistakenly deleted. Each time this happens I find myself about to react, and can feel my blood pressure rise. Then I reconsider the lack of magnitude that such an matter is, take a deep breath, and start over.

In writing these journal entries I am often questioning just how much to share. Then as a writer (I'm getting some lofty ideas) I remind myself that art, like love, should have no boundaries. With this in mind I'll share with you my finding that you can squeeze a lot of love into one small hospital bed. As of last night Michael still had strength in his right arm. I was able to lay beside him, held in his embrace. I share this as a testament of how this relationship continues to be one of mutual love and affection. Michael continues to give me so much. And though I know that this same arm has lost it's strength today, his occasional gaze can still cause me to bend at the knees.

Michael's breathing is getting heavier, and in the background is the lovely voice of Julia Fordham. Today we have been enjoying the purity of her voice with our CD collection. I have been playing all of our favorites throughout the week, knowing that he can hear them. I can feel that someone, or something, is communicating with Michael about his impending journey, but while we are sharing his attention, Michael will have music.

Throughout last night Michael was focused on one particular area toward the ceiling. He was clearly enthralled by something, as he was looking up with the curiosity of a child. His guide must have arrived.

Keep your love flowing, yet consider this. Michael has benefited so much by all of our love. In his honor, as he prepares for his departure, lets start sharing some of that love with others who might also be in need.

Love. Dan