I can’t believe Mike is really gone forever. I just can't wrap my head around that fact. He feels so alive to me in my heart; in my mind’s eye I see him going about his days as he did, his enthusiastic energy always pulsing within my purview.
Mike was just one of those people who was…just so full of life. I’ve run into two friends this past week who knew him and I haven’t seen in ages. Mike came up in conversation with them both who tried, and kind of failed with a shrug and a smile, to put a finger on what he was really like. That enormous presence Mike embodied is just beyond words…both friends seemed still bewildered that someone like him actually waltzed right out of this world when he did.
But, maybe that was just like him to do that. He probably did actually waltz, knowing Mike. He loved to dance, and in fact he was darn good at the waltz. He went so peacefully in his sleep - we should all be so lucky, and I can just imagine him waking from sleep and into not another day on our earth, but into that neverland of love and eternity, and joining right in the celebration without missing a beat. How could he not? His energy had to go somewhere, right?
Another friend of mine is battling cancer and in conversation with her recently she confided that she was no longer afraid of death, which she had been to the point of panic much of her life. I had known that about her and commented how interesting that change in perspective was after what she’s been going through. I followed by saying I too was not afraid of death…never really have been, but that after going through Mike’s sudden demise and the wreckage it caused in my heart and in my life, and the hearts and lives of those others who knew and loved him too…now I am afraid of leaving people behind. Mike’s death has made me keenly aware of my own future demise and I often panic that I will go too soon and hurt people I love. In fact I am now obsessed with what I leave behind. I made my will just weeks after he died, I keep all my passwords in a place those close to me know about, have cleared a lot of the stuff from my living space and try to live more minimally, things like that.
I tried to explain this to my friend with cancer, who is a poignant wit in any regard, and she didn’t hesitate one beat before brushing aside my fears by saying, oh, they’ll live. At which we both paused as the irony of that comment sunk in…they will live and we won’t. We then laughed suddenly at the comedy of the statement, black as it was…keep in mind, she is living with the idea every day that her own demise could be imminent. She has had to learn to live with that, so I couldn’t really judge her for her feelings about it.
And then I sat there for another moment thinking…two years ago there is no way I could have laughed at that. I could never have tolerated a joke about us survivors like that. I am not on the dying side of things; I’m on the living side of things - the surviving side. To me some days it feels like the worst side of things. But I suppose I can’t really know for sure unless and until I’m on the dying side.
No, I’m not afraid of death…I cannot imagine someone as big and vibrant as Mike just disappearing into nothingness, so I like to claim the same hope for myself. I have to believe he is there, somewhere, dancing and laughing, and flying, as are all the lost loves of all of us out there, no longer encumbered by the earthly physical, and that one day we will join them.
Did I tell you the dream I had about him last year? I can’t remember if I wrote it here. Oh well, I’ll tell it anyway.
Mike came to me in a dream, so clearly and distinctly, looking about the age he was when we met (older than he was in the picture above, one of my favorites of him)…he was smiling and laughing, his face shining before me, and he said with this excited, happy pitch to his voice, honey, death is not horrible! It’s so much fun! I’m with my friend and we’re flying! It’s like being on mushrooms but I’m not on mushrooms! When you get here we’re going to have a blast!
I will never, ever, ever forget that one. I also immediately woke up with the thought of a name of a dear and wonderful friend of his who had died far too young, at 30, from AIDS so many years ago. I really wouldn’t be that surprised if they were hanging out together.
I’ve told the dream to a few people he knew and some of them cry because they know as I do how exactly that is how he was and what he might say - and that maybe, just maybe, it really was him coming to me from beyond…it does bring some peace, thinking that. But they laugh too - Mike always did make us all laugh. Now, though, it’s more of the sad, wistful, laugh we all share when we stall in that moment of hope that there really is life after death, and that it’s a good place to be.
I do try to imagine him flying and dancing, where he is…I just miss to hell that he’s not here to dance with me anymore.