Over the river and through the woods, Tin’s Aunt had come down to see him before he passed and to help his mother handle a mother’s worst nightmare losing a child. She watched him grow, watched him thrive and now held him as he faded away. I can’t imagine and it seems unholy although if Jesus’ mother had to go through it than who am I to judge the workings of the Universe. Either way, it hurt to be losing him and it hurt to watch her lose him.
Aunt Caryl. I had heard wonderful things and Tin was so excited she would finally come down and meet me. We had been together for 4 years and I looked forward to meeting her. After a long day at work, I picked up my mother at my apartment and we went to meet the visiting family. Tin had a procedure that day. I still feel guilty that I had to work and I couldn’t go with him. When we got to the house I said hello and then checked on Tin and his new medical directions. While reading, Caryl stated that she was in town and that she was with him all day today and that she was handling his medications now. I was torn. Up until now I had made sure his medications were correct. Her tone implied that I lost my rank because she was family and I had to work. On the other hand I felt relieved that I could spend time with him and let someone else deal with the chemistry. Seeing that she wanted to come in and take over, I let it go. Shortly after she felt Tin needed pain meds without him asking. I thought that was strange and I said he tended to not like them because he felt too tired. She scoffed at me and started pulling pills that were not the pills he was supposed to get. I got up and stepped in reading his new doctor’s orders and pointed out that his new medical directions had adjusted and stopped some of the meds she was getting. Her response in front of everyone was that I asked ridiculous questions and that she was there now to handle it. In one statement she dismissed everything I had done as well as the importance of our relationship. I was just the partner. She had no idea she had opened a door I boarded tightly shut. I unleashed 10 months of anger pointing out that she did not get to sweep in for the final hour and claim heroism. She put her hand in my face and told me to go home. My mother started crying and said she couldn’t stay and so we left.Read more
It’s amazing how simple things can etch a memory deep into your heart. Music, sights, sounds and smells. Food and cooking has always brought back memories of family holidays and campfire stories. Tin loved food. That’s basically the understatement of the year. He would take anything we had in the kitchen and in an hour there would be a beautiful meal on the table and every pot and pan in the sink. Tin was also an avid gardener so it’s only natural that he loved fresh herbs.
When we first met, I went over to his apartment and sat on the balcony. It was like a rainforest in the middle of Atlanta. Palms growing as tall as the ceiling would let them and flowers in every corner. A thunderstorm was approaching and we sat and talked watching the beautiful sky change and fill the air with electric excitement. The rain began to fall. A breeze accompanied the drops and sprayed them into the rainforest. I remember distinctly starting to get the summer rain smell as I listened to Clayton and the rain share their stories. I took in a deep breath and was captivated by a new note in the song of the storm. The breeze and the rain had rustled past a small bush nearby and brought to me an amazing aromatic blend of summer rain and Thai basil. It became a favorite of ours and we often spoke of that day whenever we cooked with Thai basil. That day we were etched.
When Clayton became sick last October, he could no longer garden. He could no longer do much of anything except to cook and eat. His hunger drive and specific food desires at random times grew stronger by the day. He began to show anger if he couldn’t have what he wanted when he wanted it. To some it appeared childish but to us we knew that food was the last thing Tin had control over as he moved towards his final meals. To give him back some of his gardening, for Christmas I bought him an indoor gardening kit with Thai Basil seeds. I had him open it last as the big surprise. He was excited and wanted some time to read everything and get his garden growing. Deep down it was my way to show him that he still had the ability to hold life.Read more
Seconds filled with thoughts turn to minutes and the minutes to hours. It’s only been 3 months so there isn’t going to be a whole day that I won’t be affected by losing you. In all honesty, I will never go a day without missing you. So why does it feel like everyone else has forgotten you?
When you left, I was surrounded by family and friends. They were watching my every move and analyzing my every word. I was instantly under a microscope being dissected in hopes they would find a cure. There is no cure for life without you. There is only numbing and bandages until the break in my heart heals enough to beat stronger again but the scar will always remain.
“Do you feel you are getting over it?”
It? It? What is IT? Losing my person? Being left suddenly alone? Being made responsible for all of the bills? Having to empty closets? Having to watch objects in my life be taken and sent away to others because instead of signing a marriage license we had to rush a Will? What exactly is the “it” you are referring to?Read more
Alarm goes off and it hurts to get out of bed. I was asleep by 10 pm last night and it’s 5am now. That’s 7 hours! 7!! Why am I exhausted? Up I go and into the bathroom. Brush my teeth, get dressed, take meds, get yelled at for food by the cat, walk the dog, pack my lunch, rush to eat breakfast, gym for 1 hour, catch up on texts, emails and Facebook on the elliptical machine…Breathe…
Work at 8am! Work is so busy there isn’t a break, meeting, questions, meeting, annoyed guest, annoyed staff so no lunch, meeting, sudden change in the day’s plan and I’m supposed to be out by 4:30pm yet it’s 5:15pm, off to the grocery store, check the mail, get greeted by the dog, get yelled at for food by the cat, put the groceries on the counter, take the dog on a walk and catch up on texts, emails and Facebook…Breathe…
Back in the house, phones going crazy because everyone else is off of work and asking for things, make the dog dinner, take a shower, probably laundry but the laundry from 2 days ago is still in the washing machine so re-wash and realize there is still clothes in the dryer so you add them to the pile on the living room chair….Breathe…
So what’s next? Put on the tv so you can hear what disasters are occurring in other people’s lives…Breathe ---Ahhhhhh!!!! I haven’t eaten since like 7 am!Read more
So if you read my last blog, I was pretty stressed last week waiting for blood results and I’m happy to say everything is fine so I guess my stomach issues were really emotionally based. I do want to take a moment to thank everyone who has read my blog and the kind comments. I haven’t commented which has struck me by surprise since I am typically a talker.
Knowing that I had a blog entry to write, I thought about the kind of week I had dealing with Tin’s first birthday. It had been week after week of tough first days and this week was finally quiet. My mind is suddenly quiet. Today I realized, in my efforts to make it through the days, I am running from one task to another. I had told myself that I had to deal with my loss and not avoid it with a full schedule. Funny how you elude your own rules without realizing you are disobeying yourself. The heart wants what it wants.Read more
I’m sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. About a week ago I started having stomach pain and strong exhaustion. I, uncharacteristically, do not have an appetite and I have lost 10 lbs in less than two weeks. At first I thought it was something I ate. A few days passed and I thought it was probably just a stomach bug. After a week it eased up and I had a few days of “normal” and the odd pain and discomfort has returned.
At any other point in life, I wouldn’t think too much about my digestion being off. That happens to everyone, right? However, the loss of Tin makes me unique compared to many other people. I just watched my partner’s health rapidly decline and he lost his life. What’s worse - To lose someone suddenly or to watch it slowly happen? You can argue both sides and both sides have their own traumatic effects in one’s mind creating a vessel full of emotions. Like a pot of boiling water, if you keep watching it never boils but as soon as you let your guard down and look away those tiny little bubbles join forces, take over the pot and spill your head and heart onto the fire.
For me, watching Tin fade and go through liver failure all in 8 short months has been difficult and this week I noticed a silent and deep wound, my new fear - Will I suffer the same fate? Why would I think this could happen and why be so afraid? Because I now have the knowledge of how this disease could slowly take me. Irrational? Yes. That doesn’t stop the wound because it is etched into my mind that Tin’s illness was unexpected and began with stomach discomfort and exhaustion.Read more
Since losing Tin, I look to each new week as a new horizon that will bring brighter days. This is my fourth post and I thought, maybe by now, my blog would have small sparks of settlement in the chaos. I guess it is good to hope but bad to assume. A very fine line that I often fail to recognize these days. I’ll keep the faith that those brighter days are to come but it is difficult with the unexpected challenges that continue to appear. I feel as though I have never heard of anyone else going through all of the milestone days associated with a loss along with the strange scenarios I have recently found myself cornered in. Yes cornered is a great description of how I feel and this week has been one of the most unmanageable yet.
Those who haven’t lost a partner can’t understand the extent of the loneliness. No one to wake up to. No one texting through the day to see how you are. No one to plan dinner with. No one to fold laundry with. No one in the room at the end of the night to wish you sweet dreams and provide a sense of safety through the night. Worst of all – No one to enjoy those special dates with. The lack of a person makes them almost unbearable.Read more
Another week past and overall things have been even keel. However the dreaded dates pile one on top of another. July 15th is Tin’s first birthday. July 4th is Tin's and my anniversary and today, June 29th, 2018 is the first anniversary of my father Wayne’s passing.
I know this writing is not based mainly on my lost partner Tin but it has a strong and strange effect on my healing. My father passed away 3 months before Tin was diagnosed with terminal liver failure. My father had over 13 back surgeries, was addicted to pain medication and became an alcoholic to try to manage what the pills could not do. We all thought he would pass away from liver failure. He had heart failure the same as his father Thomas whom I got my middle name from. The irony is that Tin, who did not drink nearly as much as my father, passed away from acute liver failure. I have recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure so now I fear the fate of my father and grandfather. All the while, a glass of red wine is good for the heart but bad for the liver. So life feels like a walking contradiction. I have new fears that never occurred to me until the past year. As I write this there is a commercial for a heart attack medication on the television and I can’t help but wonder if it is a “sign”.
I know that I have better health than both of the men that left my life but perhaps that is another complexity of being a gay man. You lose your father, you lose your partner and you could have the same ending. It’s easy to support family and friends that have breast cancer but that is an evil disease that effects women much more often and a man has a harder time relating to that disease. My mother has beat breast cancer and I am so thankful. A dear friend beat cervical cancer and I can provide all the support possible but I can’t relate. She could do the same but not relate if someone had prostate cancer. I’m rambling but this is what goes on in my head. Either way my fears have intensely heightened.Read more
Well I made it. I made it through the first wedding since Tin passed only two months ago and it was followed by the next day being the first Father’s Day without my father. There were times I couldn’t hold back the tears and times I couldn’t catch my breath. I felt like a stranded fish. How ironic to be a crying stranded fish that needs salt water to breathe but the water is blurring you vision instead of spilling over your gills. I made it through the night with the fun songs, the heartbreaking songs that meant joy to all the others in the room, the condolences from family that haven’t seen me since Tin passed and catching myself rubbing my own palm and realizing I was just hoping to feel Tin take my hand. It’s not just losing the person it’s losing all the plans you had with that person and watching other people be rewarded with what you have lost.
The plane ride home was going well until I fell asleep. Dreams of the plane crashing, my apartment being robbed while I was gone and “Oh my God is my dog safe?”. What would I do if Roan was gone? I need to get home and the panic sets in. I move forward and jolted awake startling the guy in the seat next to me realizing I was locked 10,000 ft. from the answers to cure my panic. Of course everything was fine and Roan was tail wag crazy but as I returned home so did the stomachaches and dark clouds I had been carrying before my trip. It was an unexpected return home to realize how lonely and depressed I was. Skip it and go to bed. Work in the morning.Read more
It’s been 7 shorts weeks since I lost my Partner of 4 yrs. – Clayton, or as my family calls him “Tin”. Right now I am sitting, ironically, at the Atlanta airport on a layover to go home to Boston for my cousin’s wedding. Tin and I met in Atlanta and left the city to move to the beach, get married and make a life. Everyone has been saying “Great! You get to see your family!” “You need a break!” “Have a great vacation!” They are right that I do need a break, but as I type these words I am deeply terrified. This visit will be a hurricane of emotional tests and trials.
Last year I lost my father at the end of this very month. I haven’t been home since. Shortly after, Tin was diagnosed with terminal liver failure. My mother was the only family member who could come down when Tin passed so I am about to walk into a tidal wave of in-person condolences that normally happen much sooner for others. Not having seen anyone else, the weak scars of seven weeks healing will undoubtedly be torn open. I feel like Dante beginning his journey through the Inferno. This plane is a ride on the boat crossing the river of the damned. I see the other side and along the banks are demons whispering dreaded questions that people ask to show support only to be used by my demons as worded weapons. Dante’s Inferno is my favorite book. I guess knowing that Dante eventually leaves Inferno provides me with a bit of hope that someday I too may reach Paradiso.
I had to consciously choose to go up three days before the wedding so I could get the “I’m so very sorrys” over before the wedding but there will be people I won’t get to see before hand. I’m preparing myself for the words “How are you?” “Are you angry, because it’s ok to be angry?” “Have you moved on?” The only answer I have:
I am utterly heartbroken and there is no other way to explain it.Read more