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Dear Wild, I have been thinking about you nearly hourly since you told us about John. Every time I see you have posted I am grateful that you have the Fool to come to. The "progress" in the progress reports need be nothing more than "I am still here, everybody." Grieving is an emotional state tantamount to a massive physical injury - the fact that you are still here and still post is an accomplishment in itself - feeling better simply cannot be rushed, so thank heavens for the occasional stray moment you feel a smile on your face. May many more of those moments visit you and may many of them link together to let the stretches of relative peace and comfort give you respite. The sense of sadness is real enough, present enough and deep enough.

In 1982, at the age of 26, I lost my fiance after emergency surgery for fulminant ulcerative colitis with suspected perforation. He was 27 and survived 11 days on a ventilator. I suppose it can be said there was some warning because he wasn't gone suddenly as was John but I now know that NOTHING can prepare you for the untimely loss of someone you deeply love. I was on autopilot for almost 3 weeks, living in the weirdest of surrealism - the world kept going forward and I kept trying to go forward with it - until I cracked under the accumulated shock and grief. What helped me most, finally, inch my way out of the total collapse of my world, apart from time, were two things (this was before the Internet): reading, reading, reading books on grieving and how to make sense of a completely senseless state (examples: "Living When a Loved One Has Died" and books by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross). That plus drawing ever closer to my fiance's mother who had lost her son. No grief can ever be compared but I did understand that we were grieving in our own ways yet were simultaneously bereaved and could offer support to one another in tandem. She felt her loss at different times and days than I felt mine. When the world felt too cold to bear, I was there. And she in turn was there.

Now we are here for you, in addition to your own circle of family and friends.

I will relate one small story: I had a roommate at that time who was in the process of falling deeply in love with the man who later became her husband (they have been married now for 22 years). He was courting her and was leaving sweet surprises for her to find. On the day of Jim's death, I found a rose - no note - on the doorstep and I was astonished for I was unshakably convinced that it had been placed there somehow by my late fiance even as I was aware that it could have been actually left by my roommate's boyfriend. He swore up and down that on this occasion he had actually NOT put the rose there. And as I went forward day by day through the deepest grief, I still had brief moments of sudden, unexplained joy and ease which I now believe were contacts from my late fiance letting me know he was okay and trying to help me through. I wish many, many of those moments for you from John in the days, weeks, months, years ahead.

My fiance's mother of course was permanently affected by her son's loss - but in the 20 years since his loss until her own death at an elderly age, she traversed from being irreparably disconsolate to finding ways of resuming her life through the legacy of love that he had left and became involved in certain local causes and charitable works that eventually gave her life renewed meaning. I say this now only to state that this is what the farther side of grief can look like. The nearer side - no predictions other than that you are loved and supported and we are here with big ears and wide shoulders to receive whatever it is you are feeling, sad or optimistic, in the time ahead which has no rules for how one is supposed to feel.

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