A community of peers created by the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation
Here is what I wrote and spoke at the funeral it's from last year but I've not shared it here.
Donna and I have come full circle. By pure coincidence we are back where we began. Down the block on MacDougal Street I asked her to marry me one Christmas. She told me to keep it a secret while she wore the Elsa Peretti diamond earrings I got her. Friday nights we would go to Monte’s for some Italian. (Reminded us of eating in Irvington NJ.) Later we went whole hog and ate at Café Dante a block south of Monte’s. Three years ago we discovered Mezza Luna. There was Aggies. And there’s Joe’s Dairy with fresh made mozzarella. All within three blocks of this very spot. This is where we took our phase IIB trial and went double blind placebo controlled phase III trial. It was far from a perfect trial. There were many adverse events, but overall it was good for both of us. I would say great. We ultimately launched a new brand that survived and thrived for 30 years.
Memories are easy and so Kodak moment. They are snapshots without context. Or content. What is more important is not what we remember but what we are because of someone. “It is not about how we feel about someone that is important. It is about how we feel about ourselves when we are with someone”
I felt confident. If nothing Donna was confident. Before I met her I didn’t know who I was supposed to be. I saw my life in B&W. With Donna I began to feel like a Kodachrome. I am not perfect and remain a novice at confidence, but I have grown in the years I’ve known and loved her. I tried to be more of who I was because I was in love with her and because of her love for me. She would not accept not being true to who she was. I wanted the same for me. She introduced me to me because she had that eye to see what was within.
I felt love. I could open myself up and experience emotions. It was not her love for me that I am speaking about. She said that until I learned to love myself I could never really love someone else. Knowing that I loved myself (I am still working on this one) I could fully love Donna. Through me, not her, I learned to love someone. It was as if I was the conduit to fully love her. (Word up, there were bad days and good days.) But more importantly I could experience my own joy in me. I never felt broken with her. (Again I am working on that one) In return she loved me unconditionally, to a point. She would not accept slacking off in love. As afraid as I’ve been during the past three years I was strong with her because I felt our love for ourselves and for each other.
On our first date she wanted me to learn how to set type, to see the beauty in the detail of what we did. Her work had meaning. “Honor through labor.” I felt an appetite for what I did because her appetite was so great. She expected the most from herself and those around her. I felt that for myself and with what I tried to do.
I recently read, “Courage was not the absence of fear but the ability to carry on with dignity in spite of it.” When she was first dx we both broke down in the face of fear. Donna wanted to go to Oregon and be put down. We saw Dr. Blum and Donna asked: “Am I going to die in six months?” Dr. Blum said: “Not so fast let’s take a look.” She left that appointment with her head held high, and the dignity that she always had in place. That was Donna throughout the years I’ve known and loved her. No fear—just dignity with some sarcasm thrown in for good measure. She never gave an inch to fear, at least from what I could see. Maybe she didn’t run a race or knit blankets for orphans with cancer. What she did do was to get up everyday with dignity and be herself every hour of every day, nothing more nothing less. Looking back, that was the strongest thing anyone could do: be who they have always been. She never gave up on herself or me.