That is the truth. Tony would have hated this blog. He would have hated the idea of anybody writing about him, writing about us, on the internet. I used to tell myself that he was intensely private, but it was more than that. He was secretive. He was afraid. He thought that if anybody knew what really went on in his head, those who knew would shun him. He feared his family would stop loving him. He feared mine would. He feared our friends would disappear. When Tony’s mom was first diagnosed with colon cancer, his sister started a blog because it helped her deal with being her mom’s primary caretaker, and because it was easier than having to tell a hundred people the same information, over and over. How many times can you repeat bad news? I understood why she wanted to blog about it, and I applauded it. Tony? He didn’t get it. He didn’t like it. Fear.
When Tony first died, my overwhelming emotion was anger. I am still angry at him a lot of the time. But lately I am feeling that less of the time. I still feel it, but more and more I feel sadness. I feel compassion. I had a dream the other night, and in that dream, I was Tony. On the surface it was a classic anxiety dream. We (me as Tony, and a woman who I guess was me) were trying to get to our car at a crowded mall. We ran into roadblock after roadblock, until we ended up having to climb some scaffolding to try to get to the car. I didn’t want to climb. The woman was being, I felt, really mean about it, and finally I yelled at the top of my lungs, “¡Tengo miedo!” For those of you who don’t know, that means “I’m afraid” in Spanish.
He was afraid, and I am so sad that he was afraid. What I think the dream means is that he and I were speaking different languages. I think he lacked the words or the ability to tell me what was really going on inside his head, and I lacked the understanding and perspective – or let’s be honest, the advanced degree – to grasp it. Of course, I understand “tengo miedo,” because I speak Spanish. But the truth is when Tony was alive, he wasn’t speaking Spanish to me. He was speaking a lost language, one created in the lost world where he lived. I couldn’t translate it.
When Tony was alive he would have hated this blog. But now that he is gone, it is my gift to him. I offer it up to him, and I hope that he can see it. I hope that we are finally speaking the same language. I tell the truth here, even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts. I offer up my love, my pain, my belated understanding of his fear. I loved giving him presents when he was alive. He had a childlike joy the first Christmas we were together, when I gave him a gift for every year he’d been alive. Some were small, a few were big, but I still remember the way he reacted. Nothing that I gave him then can compare with what I give him now. What I want to do is give him the gift of understanding. I want him to see that even when his sickness made things unbearably stressful; even when I was close to despair and wondering how we would ever get through; even when his fear kept me from doing things I wanted to do; even then, in the blackest of times, I loved him. I loved him for who he was, illness and all. I still do.
Up until now, I have talked much more about the things about loving Tony that were difficult or sad or stressful. If I am going to tell the truth here I have to talk about the good things too. Right now those are hard for me to talk about, because there is a voice in me that whispers (sometimes shouts) that those parts are lies, because if they were really true he would still be here with me, to enjoy them. That’s not the way it works, though, not in the real world. Tony chose suicide because there was something inside him that couldn’t give the same weight to good things as to bad ones. He tried, but that just wasn’t the way he worked. It is the way I work, though, and so starting tomorrow I’m going to talk about some of the things that made me fall in love with Tony, and stay in love with him even when he tried so hard to push me away. I hope that somehow he will see it, and know that my anger at him for leaving does not – never could – cancel out the love that I will always have for him.