In two weeks it will be the one year anniversary of the passing of my very special friend Dale Brown. Nursing home policy says I can’t use his real name, but I will not cheat him or his memory by covering it up. He should be a man who is celebrated. I haven’t been looking forward to this time of year because I do not do well with sadness. I have written about him a time or two in the past and even then it was hard to fight back the tears. I don’t think I ever really sat there and just cried my hurt away. I instead have chosen to run and hide. I have a very hard time expressing this level of sadness, because I do not know how to process these feelings. I can handle sadness of either this or that, although most of the time anger masks how I am truly feeling inside. I refuse to let the world see me weak and in my fucked up head it is better people see you angry over shedding tears. This pain I feel over losing him is different. I cannot reprocess it and project anger onto the world. In the pit of my soul my psyche weeps, but my deficiencies as a man keeps those tears from reaching my eyes.

I would love nothing more than to just sit here and turn the faucets on, but I cannot bring myself to do it. I think I am still in the denial stage of grieving. I mean seriously is it healthy to hold onto denial this long? I still expect to see him here as if he had just been hiding from me this whole time; but I don’t, and each time that realization hits me it is as if I am reliving his death all over again. Since his passing I have not been able to allow myself to get close to another resident, because I do not want to build a friendship only to have them taken away from me. Just typing this I realize how selfish that is of me. Why should I deny others the special bond Dale and I shared? Why should I deny myself of these special bonds?

The one thing I learned from my relationship with Dale is I can be real around these guys, because many of them are beyond judgment. I know Dale showed himself to me without blinders on pretending to be someone he wasn’t, and I did the same with him. The conversations we had were some of the only honest conversations I have had with anyone. There was another man here I started to form a bond with, but he eventually left, not by deaths touch but by a relocation. When I first found this out I was devastated yet again, but at least I knew he was still alive, and had not suffered the same fate as Dale did. Awhile back before Dale passed away I became friends with this man who is so wonderful in his own right. He has trouble speaking so you really need to give him some dedicated time so he can express his feelings. When this is done he lights up knowing somebody took the time to stop what they were doing to pay attention to him and truly hear his feelings.

After Dale passed I sort of pushed him and the other residents away. I chose to stay secluded in my office away from the residents so not to get hurt again. I still have a really hard time opening myself up. I know I made just as much of an impact on Dales life as he did mine. I would here compliments from the staff on our special bond, and how it was benefiting Dale. I don’t think they realized his impact on my life was just as strong. I knew I could tell him anything and he would not think any different of me. I could tell him about my recent diagnosis and he would love me just the same. I don’t even feel comfortable stating my diagnosis on this blog, and everyone should know I don’t hold back on my personal opinions and feelings no matter how out there they are.

I think me starting to work at this nursing home at just the right time to have him enter my life was serendipity. If it were not for him “The Bucket List Foundation” would not have been created. The visions I have of him laying alone while he passed away still haunt my mind. I have many regrets in my life but this one sits a top. I claimed to truly care for him as a friend and as a person yet I was not with him when he died. Saying this now just rips at my insides. Before he lost the ability to speak he expressed his fear of dying alone. He was scared, and I wasn’t there to tell him everything was going to be ok. I was not there to hold his hand so he felt the warmth of a loved ones touch. I failed him.

The Bucket List Foundation will serve many purposes but the most important for me is our pledge that our clients will not die alone. I have said this before but perhaps if I am able to deliver on this promise it will heal my intense guilt over letting him pass alone. I hope this does because I can’t deal with a yearly reminder of one of my greatest failures.

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Comments
  1. johanna says:

    Tim, I am sorry for the grief you feel about your friend. I find comfort and encouragement from the idea of the Communion of Saints. This is the spiritual union of all, living or dead. We are connected to our brothers and sisters who have gone before us. This spiritual union is universal. It spans history, geography, nationality, race and all other barriers we could erect. We are connected and aided by their prayers and encouragement. Your friend Dale is not hindered by the human constraints of time or space. He can hear you and pray for you. Know that and continue what you found so special in him by sharing it with others.

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      Johanna,

      I am so on the fence with the afterlife. I really started believing the Tao more so after Dale passed. I want so bad to believe he is somewhere better. I hope you are right because he was a great man.

  2. johanna says:

    Jesus told the “good thief” on the cross, ” Today you will be with me in paradise.” This certainly points to an afterlife.

    • Tim Lundmark says:

      Johanna,

      I would want nothing more for that to be true. I think in myself I read about religion so much because I need to fill this whole in me and find the faith to believe we are more than just our earthly body. I feel blessed that I have discovered the Tao, yet I still read the Bible, Qu’ran and among others. I hope to one day find the proper peg to fill my whole.

  3. johanna says:

    You have made us for yourself O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you. -St Agustine

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