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

1 comment:

  1. hey dan - this is the first post of yours I ever read. I have it bookmarked as "comforting post." It's how I met you. Thank you, my friend.