And If You Did Know?

In Memory of Sharon Michele McAvoy Nichols .:. December 24, 1949 – October 10, 2005

March 16, 2006

157 Days

Filed under: goodbye — mark @ 8:12 am

Dear Sweetie,

I miss you everyday, especially at those times when we would talk. Not having someone to talk to about everything and anything is the hardest part right now. Between stress at work, the impending death of my mother, and Laura’s loss of her brother, there has been a lot I’ve wanted to talk about. After thinking about it for a while I did seek out two different survivors of suicide groups and I have been attending them for a couple of months now.

Each of the two groups has a different flavor and I am getting something from going. While it is difficult to be in a room filled with so many sad stories and people in so much pain, it does help to share my story in front of people who can understand what I am experiencing. The groups are peer led which is a bit frustrating as the “leaders” inject their own agendas at times. Going gives me something to look forward to, only time will tell if it is making a meaningful difference. I may end up seeking out a one-on-one paid therapy situation to augment the group stuff.

Over the weekend I went to Illinois for my mom’s birthday. Her prognosis is not good, although she seems to be stable right now. The cancer has won the war, all they can do now is ease her descent and perhaps by her some time. I have been working on a letter to her that I will send this week. I need to say goodbye while I have a chance so I’m not left with emotional baggage for the rest of my life. Helping my father to confront his feelings about this have only strengthened the tie between us. I’m just sorry it comes so late in the game.

Taz and Nekko continue to be a large part of my daily life. Having their unconditional acceptance of me, even when I am emotionally losing it and raging at everything and nothing, is huge. I also have a strong sense that you are watching over me; knowing that you are around gives me peace.

I miss you Tinkerbell.
I lov eyou
And I am still in lov with eyou

February 16, 2006

The Sound of Her Voice

Filed under: goodbye — mark @ 9:35 pm

For some time now I have been able to hear in my mind the sound of Michele’s voice by replaying one of two contexts where we said the same things over and over. Recently I discovered a third context that lets me imagine her voice once again. I treasure these contexts and I use them daily, so I can hear in my mind her voice and so I don’t lose the connection to the context itself.

So much of our memories are triggered by state, so losing the state of being with Michele has caused a veil to be drawn up over my memories of her and our time together. It pains me to feel her slipping away in this manner. Try as I might, there are times when I can’t see her face, or imagine her touch, or hear her voice. The fear of losing this part of her adds to my inability to breakthrough to the memories. I have to calm myself and then I can reach the peaceful place inside of me where she lives now.

I fear that as the years start to roll by I will gradually lose this final connection with her, until all that I am left with are fading images in my mind’s eye, along with a handful of digital pictures. I am determined to keep as much of her memory alive in my mind as I can by exercising the contexts that let me her her voice, feel her touch, and see her beautiful face once again.

I miss her so very much, the pain of her loss is still as sharp as the first day. My throat swells shut and the tears steam down my cheeks when I think about all the days I’ll have without her. It has been 129 days since she died. It feels like 129 years.

I lov eyou Michele
I miss you with every breath I take
My heart still aches for your gentle love to hold it once again

February 14, 2006

Will You Marry Me?

Filed under: goodbye — mark @ 8:22 am

For St. Valentine’s Day 1995 I traveled to Colorado Springs to spend the weekend with Michele. She had just been to Illinois two weeks previously and we were both preparing for her to move there permanently in early March. She met me at the Denver airport with a heart shaped balloon and a stuffed teddy bear. In that moment neither of us knew that we would be spending the next 3,160 days together.

That evening when we got back to her apartment I played for her Marc Cohn’s True Companion and asked her to marry me. She said yes. Tee-hee.

Friday evening and Saturday that weekend were spent sight-seeing and just being together. Michele was increasingly aware that her employer was falling on hard times and that the future of her job was in question. She had already submitted a letter of resignation and was to move to Illinois in two weeks, without a new job, just to leave the stress of the psychiatric hospital behind. Sunday morning as we lay together in bed feeling sad about my impending return to Illinois alone, she asked, “Why can’t I come back with you today? Why can’t we pack my stuff, leave the key with the landlord for Allied, and just drive back together, today?”

My first thought was why didn’t we think of this on Saturday, but given that she had hardly any belongings it wouldn’t take too long to pack them up and prepare to drive her car to Illinois. The rest of Sunday was spent packing her small two room apartment and preparing a note for the Allied movers due in two weeks. Late in the evening we finally had the last of the things she was bringing with her in the car, including a very reluctant cat, and headed off to her office. She changed her two-week notice to indicate she was going to take her accumulated vacation rather than get paid for it. She gathered the few things she wanted from the office and we finally set off around 9:30 pm.

Three hours driving got us to Burlington Colorado, the last town before Kansas. In the morning I called my office and took the day off and we set out to drive home. Our trip across Kansas and Missouri was good, filled with laughter and comfortable silences. Along the way we passed Salinas, where we had spent two weekends the previous year, and laughed at the unlikeliness of falling in love in such a remote place. And neither of us knew that Kansas City would figure in our relationship when we drove through it later that day.

After picking up my car from the long term parking lot in St. Louis we drove in tandem the last 90 miles to Springfield. Abby promptly hid under the bed in the duplex we now shared. Over the next couple of weeks we started to adapt to each other and living together. By mid-March her shipment from Allied arrived and we were setting a date for our wedding.

It would have been nine years today. Nine years since I asked her to marry me. Nine years since we starting living together. My memories of that time are warm and make me feel good. I miss her terribly every minute of every day, but I don’t regret a single minute of the time we had together. She was my first and only Valentine.

February 6, 2006

Four Months

Filed under: goodbye — mark @ 11:24 pm

Dear Sweetie,

It has been just over four months since you died. Today marks the 17th week, 119 days. I know you won’t be surprised that I know these numbers, I was always the one that knew our dates and remembered little anniversaries as the year went by. The dates are bittersweet this time around. My memories are flooded with all the things we did, the places we went, and the laughter we shared. My thoughts are haunted by the knowing that our plans for the future will never come to pass. You always used to say that living in the past (or future) was pointless as there was no present in it. Your profound wisdom has helped me a great deal; I try to stay focused on today rather than lament either the past or the future.

My loneliness is the hardest thing to bear these days. I feel like I am running as fast as I can, but like my shadow loneliness is attached to me, and I can not out run it. My anger has been greater in the past few weeks, anger at you and at this whole mess. Because it has altered my personality some, and causes the cats behavior to be different as well, I am going to start going to group. The trick will be finding one where I can get some validation. I fear my attitude going in is one of “I dare you to make this work for me” and I’m not at all sure of the outcome. You always talked about the groups you ran and how the peers in the group could rein someone in and give them the validation no one else could provide. I am trusting that there is a group like that out there for me. Tomorrow I start at the first one.

I miss you terribly, My Love. My heart is hurted, and Little Mark is very sad inside.
I lov eyou will all my heart and I always will. You truly showed me how to love.
I am mad at you Michele, and I know that is how this works. I’ll move through it and then this will be a tiny bit better.

Good night my sweet Princess.
your loving husband,

January 17, 2006

Monarch Butterfly

Filed under: goodbye — mark @ 3:00 pm

On the day of the memorial service at the botanical gardens, two things happened that have already been shared in contributions here. First, when Mark and I were waiting for guests to arrive, standing next to the table with Michele’s picture, a monarch butterfly appeared out of nowhere, figure-eighted our heads, circled the table (perhaps in approval?), circled us again, then disappeared. This for me was doubly interesting, as monarch butterflies have always held a special meaning to me, personally, and that in retrospect, I couldn’t recall seeing one “in the wild” for maybe a decade–both of which said something to me that i wasn’t capable of fully understanding.

Second was that during the second refrain of “Amazing Grace,” played by a bagpiper selected by Mark (which, because of Michele’s Scot background and that it was her favorite song could have not possibly have been more perfect) a slight gust of wind popped up, blowing over the two glass-framed pictures of Michele on the table. Neither glass panel broke, interestingly, but as I look back on it, it was kind of like a waving goodbye, or maybe closing of eyes to fully take in the moment…and like Michele, done with panache but with no damage.

Why do I share these again? I’ve talked about these two incidents with three people I know in the last two months, and all three had similar stories. The most interesting was a friend who attended the funeral of a lifelong friend who lost her battle with breast cancer, and had to make a fifty mile drive back along the California coastline back to San Diego. At the first stop, her friend’s silver bracelet, long lost, rolled out from the passenger seat of her SUV, a silver bracelet adorned with an artisan-carved ladybug. As my friend Robin resumed her course, an actual ladybug landed on her windshield, just above her windshield wiper, before she attained speed. She told me that the ladybug remained there for fifty miles, through speeds of 45 mph, twisty roads, and many stoplight stops.

I’ve watched my friend–my brother I dare say–Mark go through some challenging times these few months. All of which he’s done with a dignity and a strength that makes me respect him even more than I already did…which is no small compliment. Being human, he has some days that his inner struggles make it to his outer surface (I caught an e-mail tongue lashing once or twice, but that’s what friends are for!). But I’ve learned a lot from my friend, a lot about keeping what is important alive by never forgetting, a lot about faith in fate and karma (in the sense that one cannot control what is given to him/her, but one CAN control how he or she reacts to it), and a lot about inner strength, and how having someone truly special in your life can forge that to the point that it is so strong, it can withstand amazing pressures.

I’m at a personal point in my life when these lessons are becoming more and more important, unfortunately, but I am grateful for what Mark has shared with me, and with all of us…things that Michele shared with Mark and he is passing on to us.

Mark, I don’t know if it’s a monarch butterfly, or a ladybug, or a silent puff of wind, but you’re not alone. Not as long as those of us who have contributed here are around.

Pete Van Dyke—now in Plano TX

January 10, 2006


Filed under: goodbye — mark @ 6:24 pm

For only the second time this winter we are having snow here. It’s been very mild recently so the return to wintry weather is nice. Michele dearly loved to ride in the car at night when it was snowing. The sensation of rushing created by the swirl of flakes coming towards the car in the cone of the head lights is one of my favorites as well. If it is still snowing after dark I may go out for a short ride in the car as I know we would be doing that if she were still here.

January 9, 2006

Theme Updated

Filed under: goodbye — mark @ 7:34 am

After a couple of false starts I have managed to update the theme of Michele’s site so something more pleasing to the eye. She loved colors and textures and possessed impecable taste when it came to decorating or dress. I think that the combination of the bold floral colors and the softer pastel background colors would please her.

January 8, 2006

Three Month Letter

Filed under: goodbye — mark @ 1:36 pm

I’ve written a letter to Michele over on my site.

December 24, 2005

Happy Birthday Sweetie

Filed under: goodbye — mark @ 7:44 pm

Since her birthday was December 24th, Michele rarely had the attention a June or October birthday might garner. Instead her celebration was often rolled into the holiday or skipped altogether. Throughout our relationship I tried very hard to make her birthday special. I know that her birthday in South Carolina in 1999 was the low point in the years we had together. Perhaps the high point was December 2003. You see, that year I managed to pull off a surprise party for her which was attended by her three best friends.

It all started in January, 11 months earlier, when I had the idea of inviting her three best friends to come to our house in Illinois for a weekend in December to celebrate her birthday. Emails were sent and calendars marked; every one agreed to come. Now I just had to keep my mouth shut for a year. The first few months were easy; it wasn’t until September and October when flight plans were solidified that I had to really work at not saying anything that would let the cat out of the bag.

The weekend of December 12 -14 finally arrived and the surprise was complete. Never had I seen her so completely shocked and overjoyed at the same time. She just could not stop smiling and laughing. As luck would have it one friend was unable to travel on Friday, so I got to surprise her again on Saturday when Laura arrived. The four women sat and talked, cried, laughed, and communed with each other for hour after hour that day. The conversation lasted well into the wee hours of the morning. It was truly a glorious celebration centered around Michele.

On Sunday morning, before shuttling her friends back to the airport, I snapped this picture. This was the last time Michele saw her friends, and I am very glad they all came to spend a snowy weekend together.

(l-r) Pam, Michele, Jody, (in front) Laura

Happy Birthday

Filed under: goodbye — mark @ 7:25 pm


Wish you were here to verbally wish you a Happy Birthday, since you aren’t I hope you can hear it from my heart.


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