Two Years

It’s much sunnier on March 18th than it was two years ago. And the sadness and loss I felt then have become memories. Now, when I think about Patti, I don’t feel overwhelming emptiness, just sweet thoughts and warmth. Despite the enormity of her death, Jack and I have continued to find our way and to find things to like about life. Surviving is no longer a guilty feeling; it’s what Patti would have wanted for us.

I have learned so much from her since she left. As the clouds parted, I saw how wise she had been about so many things and somehow, with her gone, I am able to better heed her advice and perspective. I have let many things go that I used to cling to, worries, fears, woeful imaginings. Why? I guess because I have to rely on myself, to be strong, to take on all aspects of myself and my life. I no longer have my love to lean on, to make up for my shortcomings, to protect me from the things I fear.

And being a single parent is much more than double being one of two. Without another person to balance my mistakes, I have to be more careful and also bolder when I help steer Jack to the next stage of his life. Would I have been as supportive of his decision to go to RISD if Patti were alive? Would I have been okay with so many of the choices he makes? Would I be as close to him as I am now? Would I have become calmer, more supportive, less judgmental? Probably not, honestly.

My life will change radically again in six months. Jack will be off to Providence and I’ll have my apartment, evenings, weekends and grocery lists to myself. I look forward to it with a mixture of excitement and dread. For the first time, except for a six month period when I first graduated from college, I will be living alone. I have no idea how I’ll take to it. Will I be lonely? Will I be free? Will I try to end my isolation by living with someone else as soon as possible? WIll I thrive? We’ll see.

I think of Patti at least once every day. I have pictures of her throughout our house and office but they have blended into the background. Instead, the way I come to think of her is because I keep encountering the parts of my life that she was  a part of — how I put the laundry away, the sheets she bought, the desk she sat at, the places she walked the dogs.  So many parts of everything. Some of those routines change, new sheets, new shopping lists, new situations with Jack she never dealt with. But she remains at the core of who I am in so many ways. After all, we grew up together and were molded by the same events, huge and minor and she was my best friend for  a quarter of  a century.

I worry sometimes that Patti’s memory will fade bit by bit until no one but her closest friends and relatives remember what she was like. That no one will know any more what a nut she was, how sweet she was, what a good friend and an inspiration. But I don’t think that’ll really ever be true. Her light burned too bright.

I wrote a book about her life and its aftermath and it’s at the publisher now. I worked on it harder and more carefully than anything I have ever done because I want the world to know about her, to fall in love with Patti Lynn like I did. In less than a year, it’ll be out there, making ripples, and creating new fans for her. I hope she would have liked it.

I miss you, Pat. I always will. I know you wouldn’t want any of us to be sad today or any day. I will always remember you and think of how you would have wanted things to be. Thanks you for being my friend and my love.

22 Comments

  1. Kathleen Bricker

    I am at 4 1/2 years into this journey. I have amazingly made a new life with someone wonderful who welcomes the memory and presence of another in my soul. It is surprising every day. And yet I think of him daily and feel the power of his life and death impacting mine. The tears still flow, but often with gratitude that we had that love. It is different than I thought it would be, but it is very good.

  2. MaryO

    Your tributes to Patti speak well of the person she was, and the person you are, as well, Danny. Thank you for allowing us to share in her legacy. I look forward to the new book.

  3. cherylrazmus

    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing the most intimate understanding of what it is to be alive. Balancing memory with moving through. Being a part of those you love, but accepting that your life is ultimately about the part you play.

  4. hfm

    Love the way you put the feelings together!

  5. Melanie Reim

    It is very beautiful, Danny, as are you and Jack together. I am so happy that he is on the way to his new chapter and his choice- Lots of warm thoughts to you both today and always….

  6. Leslie Frank

    Beautiful words from your beautiful soul to hers. Now we all can learn of her beauty.
    I hope the days do get sunnier for you.
    Thank you for sharing this with all of us.

  7. Simon Tyrrell

    The honesty and clarity with which you engage us all in your world make it hard not to feel as though we know and feel more than we actually, truly, could. That’s a gift you have, and it’s a pleasure and privilege to share in it … thank you, and thinking of you now, as I often do. Simon.

  8. theresa

    Danny, i too understand what you ve been going through i lost my husband and best friend 4 years ago. I also have a son who just this year moved out of our home and though it can be hard at times . I have grown so much since this loss and am doing things on my own i never thought i would. Though it is hard at times we have to live they would want it that way.

  9. joanne sharpe

    What a beautiful tribute from Patti’s beautiful soul that shines through YOU, Danny. Thank you for the words that needed to inspire and motivate me. Today i am going to take my husband a little less for granted……and the days after today too! May your love give you power……

  10. Joanne

    beautiful tribute — looking forward to the book –

  11. William Ternay

    A wonderful tribute to your wife, Danny. I am a long-time sketcher and illustrator.
    My wife Louise died 4 years ago of cancer, the plague of our times. She was my agent, my best friend, lover, and mother of our 3 beautiful sons. My heart goes out to you and your son. As a mentor of mine said a few months after Louise’s death, “Damn it Bill; life does go on.”

  12. Lynn Cohen

    this is so personal so touching
    not sure a stranger
    has a right to comment even
    just want to say
    I will read the new book
    and feel honored to be allowed
    into your inner circle
    in that way
    I already love your art
    I guess getting to know the man who makes it
    even more
    and the woman who was behind him/beside him
    who inspired
    is
    icing on the cake
    thank you for sharing
    any one of us
    could be where you are
    at anytime
    I for one appreciate having a teacher

    and I do hear you when you say every day matters

  13. Andrea thompson

    I feel like lynn above, as a stranger should i really speak, i’ve only been visiting here for awhile but find your art and also now your stories of your life so inspiring and touching. I wish you well in your changes to come…. Even though my situation is as far from yours as possible (I have my husband and 4 children, the youngest of which is autistic and probably will always be with us) we all have our struggles and hearing about your thoughts seems to help me and i’m sure a lot of people. Best wishes,
    -Andrea

  14. Kathleen

    I lost my 47 year old husband 16 years ago next month. Life does go on an, the path unexpected. I am struck by this comment ,
    “I worry sometimes that Patti’s memory will fade bit by bit until no one but her closest friends and relatives remember what she was like.”
    ..because I feel a huge responsibility to be keeper of the memories. I think of so many friends and relatives who have passed on and we tend to sum up their life in pithy snapshots like ” Oh Uncle Gene, he loved a good drink.” or “Remember Sally and how she always got lost?” How we speak of the dead shapes how they are remembered and we tend to reduce the richness of a full life into a soundbite.

  15. Ketra

    Danny, I only recently found this blog & I love it. Today you have written exactly how I would hope my husband would cope if something should happen to me. Moving on, still holding me in his heart, but open to all the beauty and love the world still offers. Beautiful. I wish you all good things in the next chapter of life.

  16. Kia

    I only know Patti via your books and writings only but I know she must have been a really strong and charming woman. I will be looking forward to remember her while reading your upcoming book.

  17. Beverley McKenzie

    I too only know Patti through your words and would have loved to have been able to have met her in person, as she sounds like an amazing person. I am on a path similar to you, now a single parent with a 16 year old daughter who wants to study art. Her father left which in some ways is really tough as not only am I mother and father, but I also have to deal with the feelings of desertion she has as well as my own. She will be going to university in just over a years time, where we are not sure. I would love for her to study illustration at Oxford University, she is not so sure. However when she does move, I will be moving with her, as she refuses to move into halls and wants to continue living at home. I admire Jack for being so brave, and you too. I am not sure I am quite ready yet, nor is she, so we are happy to remain together for now. I am aware though that that day will come when she does move out and then the house, the space and the grocery lists will be mine.

  18. AnAis

    It must be so hard…. Jack and you are very strong and Patti’ll always be with you…no doubt

  19. Jan C.

    Hi Danny, sorry I haven’t written for a while — but it’s so good to see you working in your journal again, yay you! It is almost 1.5 years since my husb R died and I am still all over the spectrum in terms of “the grieving stages” (BTW what a crock that is, it’s not at all a linear progression through stages, it’s the Wheel of Fortune spinner and you land where you land at a given hour). I miss him horribly, am resigned to the fact that I always will, and still get ambushed by sorrows attached to household items and routines. But…I know very well that his memory won’t fade and he won’t “disappear” or dwindle to an epigraph, because he’s so very built in to my life and many other lives. He wasn’t an add-on, he was integral — and I bet Patti was just the same. She will always be with you and Jack — and her true friends will always be able to hear her voice, don’t worry.

    • dannygregory

      I’m glad to hear you are persevering, Jan. I’m glad we could talk during those early horrible days. All the best, D

  20. Morgan & Crissy

    Though my encounters with Patti were few, her fire (her smile, her hair, her aura) did indeed burn bright! She is a spark in my life, as are you! I look forward to savoring her/your book and getting to know Patti better.

  21. Steph

    Wow, I felt that. Thank you very much for sharing. You have a beautiful soul and I love the way you see the world. Looking forward to reading your latest book.

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