Can I come to your funeral?

 

Well, can I?

Is it okay for me to grieve openly my loss, attend your bedside, and offer my condolences to your family? May I sign the guest register, and send flowers with a note of remembrance attached, signed ‘Love, Dana’?

 

(If you haven’t yet guessed, this is not a lighthearted note; and if you’re feeling like avoiding seriousness and emotion today, please turn back now.)

 

I’ve spent many hours trying to decide which words, statements, and feelings to use to express the events which have occurred, and even more trying to decide whether or not to share them here, with you. Yes, we talk about a lot of personal things here, and we have gotten to know one another pretty well over the years (for those of you who’re among my friends and playmates, those talks have been even deeper still), but I rarely talk openly with you all about my personal life unless it’s related to this thing we do. Otherwise, I’ve found that I prefer not to overshare anecdotes and occurrences for the most part – we all have parts of ourselves and our lives which we prefer to keep to ourselves, and that’s fine.

This time, however, I’ve decided that the subject is too important, too critical and painful, to avoid, regardless of how personal it is. So I’m going to talk to you all about it. Keep in mind that the following are my experiences, feelings, and actions. I don’t want any advice and am not asking for agreement or even support – I just want you to know.

 

My paul died a while ago. He’d been sick for a few months and we knew from the outset that there was little that could be done to intervene medically. It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t pretty, as these things rarely are.

 

Hold on..  I should back up several years and tell you a bit more about paul so that you understand why I’m taking the time and emotional energy to share..

I met paul less than a year after I arrived in Los Angeles, around 2009. He’d originally found me the same way most of you do – online – and emailed to request an appointment. His initial email was clear and respectful; he was not into spanking at all – in fact, far from it – he was a foot fetishist also interested in masochism and humiliation. This was back in the early years when I still occasionally considered playmates outside my main sphere of interest, and paul seemed like a nice enough guy, even though his thing wasn’t necessarily my thing. I agreed to meet him for a foot worship/sm playtime after making it abundantly clear that I would, in no uncertain terms, never ever humiliate anyone intentionally. This was agreeable to him and we planned our first meeting.

We got along splendidly; while I admit enjoying the hitting and stomping more than the foot worship (it takes a little getting used to), we had a great conversation after our playtime and he seemed to have a million really cool and interesting stories to tell. He asked whether he could see me again, I said I’d be delighted, and we planned another playtime for the following month.

As our second meeting approached, paul emailed to say that he was sorry to say that he would be unable to keep our appointment  because he was on a fixed income and was, essentially, broke. (I should mention here that paul was 65 or 66 when we met.) I replied telling him that I expected him to report for our previously scheduled  meeting, on time and ready to submit, regardless of how much money he had, and that he’d be punished for even attempting to get out of it again. After a little back and forth, he agreed. I told him after that, our second lovely playtime, that he’d never need to worry about budgeting for my time again. Using terms he was comfortable with, I told him that from  now on he was my ‘personal slave’ – my foot puppy – and there would be no further discussion of finance, period, ever. That was the first of several times that I saw paul cry.

He’d been in the closet fully his entire life, having had fantasies of his fetish since his earliest memories of a particularly pretty yet stern schoolteacher who always wore shiny high-heeled shoes. He fantasized that she would step on his hands with those lovely shoes while telling him how very bad he was. It was a preoccupation which followed him fully into his adult life, and which he continued to keep secret for decades. It wasn’t until his late fifties that he even began to consider seeking out some sort of professional to help him make his fantasies reality, and even then, as he told me all those years later, it was a constant source of inner angst, guilt, and self-loathing. Why, he wanted to know, was he so fucked up? Why was he obsessed with women’s feet, of all things, instead of boobs and butts like everyone else? Why couldn’t he stop thinking about it? He was certain that no woman would ever love him enough to understand.

Eventually, he must’ve squared himself with these feelings enough to seek out a dominatrix. He told me about a few experiences he’d had with a handful of professional dommes before we met, and for the most part those stories were happy, if conflicted, memories for him – the earliest explorations of his lifelong wanting.

Then he found me, by some weird ‘that’s how things work’ combination of events, and we became fast friends almost immediately. He’d make a two hour drive each way to see me once a month, and we’d play, talk, eat, and laugh. I never treated paul like a slave (although I still, in respect of his wishes, never capitalize the first letter of his name), but did buy him a leather collar with my initials on, and even had him personalized ‘puppy tags’ made for our anniversary last year. During our playtimes, he was required to call me Mistress, and I was just as stern as you all know me capable. And paul was capable of taking quite a lot of physical discomfort (even though he barely tolerated the occasional spanking I insisted on foisting upon his unwilling backside)…we had fun. I got to wear lots of really sky-high heels and lead him around on a leash – it was absolutely silly and serious at the same time, in all the best ways.

After I moved to Las Vegas, paul’s drive became five-plus hours, each way, so his visits became less frequent. He’d drive here once every three months or so and stay with us a night or two before making the drive back home. We all – paul, Michael, and I – enjoyed these visits immensely. paul didn’t have much family to speak of, no wife, kids, or living close relatives – so we quickly became his family, and he ours. paul housesat for us when we took the rare but needed vacation, taking perfect care of the home and animals anytime we went away, and I’m still convinced that he hand fed the cats raw steak every time because when he was here they paid him more attention than me.

He also did a lot of little fix-it projects around the house for me. He took an old bumper sticker off my newly-bought used car, gouging a deep scratch in the bumper in the process – but still, thoroughly removing all signs of said bumper sticker; he spent several hours repairing a drippy faucet in my master bathtub only for the drip to return less than 24hours after he’d left to go home, and at a much more annoying rate of drip. Once, I almost missed the only bus leaving L.A. back to Las Vegas for the day (on a rare return visit of mine) because he got us lost in god-knows-where in the process of chauffeuring me to the terminal. paul had the best of intentions, but he rarely managed to ‘fix’ anything. I cannot stress enough how much I loved that about him – his constant enthusiasm and willingness to help even in the face of glaring inability to execute the task at hand. That’s tenacity, folks.

 

Fast forward back to more recent history:

One week, I didn’t receive an email from paul for nearly 48 hours. This was highly unusual as paul had a tendency to email three to five times a day, every day, and never less than once. He was constantly writing to tell me of his day, his thoughts, how much he loved me…and to send me his doodling; sketching out his fetish fantasies as quickly as they came. Over the years I received hundreds if not thousands of little pieces of art via email, and I always asked that he bring me the originals when he visited next. He always did, and I now have possession of what is quite possibly the most interesting and diverse collection of tiny foot fetish art ever compiled. I plan to build a dedication page from which to share many of these wonderful, quirky, excellent little treasures with the world at large. He deserves that much.

But I’m digressing.

Turned out paul had gotten short of breath while out with his guy pals one afternoon and ended up in ER. The assessed him lightning-fast, and eighteen or twenty hours later (note the sarcasm) gave him the verdict : inoperable cancer which was unlikely to respond to chemotherapy and/or radiation.

Did he want to go ahead with treatment anyway, they asked him? He said yes and began what was to be his final fight.

When I received an out-of-the-ordinary text message from him saying he was in hospital, I immediately picked up the phone to call him. He said that he’d be discharged in a day or two, then he’d have to have a bunch of follow-up appointments with various specialists in order to come up with a game plan for fighting the cancer. I asked if he wanted me to come and be with him in the hospital and he said no, he’d not be there long and that his pals were checking in on him periodically. Grudgingly, I agreed to stay home.

After having been released from the hospital, he did indeed follow up with all those doctors, precious weeks sliding by while everyone decided who was going to pay for what and sending him for blood work what seemed like about a million times. After a few weeks he finally started a round of chemotherapy, requiring him to drive or be driven to the treatment facility each time for several hours, then home again for several days of hardcore sickness. paul had lived alone for years, which is never a problem when you’re healthy and spry, but gets troublesome really quickly when you’re too weak to walk to the bathroom. Refusing my offer to come and stay with him at home, paul set about trying to go through the chemotherapy process by himself, with the occasional visit from previously-mentioned friends.

It was awful but not at all surprising when, after another somewhat long period of quiet, I received another text from him – back in the hospital. He’d gotten weak and short of breath at home and called the ambulance himself. He spent another few days in hospital, getting stabilized, only to be sent back home alone again.

I’m not trying to make a long story short, but it suffices that this was the basic routine for the next few weeks – hospital, home, hospital, home – interspersed with the completion of the first round of chemo and beginning of some kind of chemical radiation treatment. We were in touch as much as he could be, and I checked in on him often daily, always offering to hop on a plane and come take care of his old sick ass. He always said no, he was doing good. We both knew he was lying, but who was I to call him on it at such a time? Maybe his house was really messy and he was embarrassed or maybe he was in denial about how sick he really was – it certainly wasn’t, couldn’t possibly be, surely couldn’t be…

…that he was ashamed. Could it?

Then paul was told that the cancer had spread to his brain and would require it’s own, separate round of chemotherapy. Once more he said okay. And once more they set in motion the routine of home, hospital, home, hospital, which inevitably occurs when someone who is already dying is wracked with poison. This time, his stay in the hospital was longer, and the prospect of his release even more forbidding – how could he possibly care for himself? This time I did the pushy thing – I told paul that I was coming, was going to take care of him, cook for him, and make him comfortable.

He flat out refused. Wouldn’t explain, but flat out refused. That’s when I realized that my initial fears were correct; paul was ashamed. He was ashamed of himself, and thereby, me. He didn’t want to explain to the possible visitor who I was, or how he knew me. He didn’t want me to come to the hospital because he was afraid – terrified – that I’d run into one of his buddies, or the rare distant relative who’d come out of the blue since his illness had progressed so dramatically. If I looked back at his behavior, what he’d told me and – more importantly – what he hadn’t (he’d never shared with me which hospital he was in, which rehabilitation facility, or, in the end, which hospice), paul had decided that, even at the end of his life, he could not be himself. On top of the already near-paralyzing pain of impending loss, I now felt absolutely abandoned in my grief, and by the very person for whom I was grieving. I was a little pissed at him for that.

Selfish, yes. I’m human. Moving along.

I’m sure that by now you see where this is going. Because of his own fears and shame, paul took from all of us the ability to say goodbye. Neither I nor Michael were given the chance to hug him or properly express our love and immense gratitude for our time with him, and paul was sadly and sorely without the people who absolutely loved him most in this world at the end of his life.

His choice. A terrible one in my opinion, and having to live with it, I think, gives me the right to disagree with him. I would’ve never shown up uninvited, never ‘blown his cover’, so to speak; I’d never have disrespected his wishes in that way, no matter how much I wanted to shake the living hell out of him for it. I loved paul, so I let him be alone. That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, and continues to be today. I still can’t figure out how to put a period at the end of this sentence – it’s dangling, like a season ending cliffhanger or half-told secret.

I can’t tell you how I’ll deal with it, because I have zero precedent. All the events in our lives are processes, and this is now one of mine.

I wish paul had given himself permission to be wantonly honest in his last days, but I know that’s unrealistic. Most people take their secrets to the grave, and my paul was no exception.

I promise to try not to begrudge his memory and his love, in spite of the glaring reality – I probably can’t come to your funeral, either.

 

–  Dana

 

Rest in peace, puppy.  -M

 

 

 

 

42 thoughts on “Can I come to your funeral?

  1. My heart hurts for you. I am so sorry for your loss and pain. And I am sorry for Paul, for the shame and guilt he took to his grave. What a terrible way to end a life.

    Be who you are, everyone. This is no shame in what we do.

    1. Sorry, I hit done too soon. I just wanted to say I’m sorry for you. Sorry you didn’t get to say goodbye, and sorry you lost such a good friend and play partner. And even more sorry Paul felt like he couldn’t be who he was born to be around those who thought they knew him best.

  2. Thank you for sharing this. It’s not a story I’ve ever been exposed to, and I appreciate that you left it as messy and complicated as you did.

    That picture pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? Being open about who you are and being recognized as such by others is tough, and I have a lot of progress to make on that road myself, but there’s really no substitute.

  3. Wow, I read this at work tonight on my phone. It almost brought tears to my eyes. You are an incredibly understanding and giving person. It was wonderful to read about your relationship with paul. It is very sad that you were not able to be there for him. I do understand how he felt as I have had a couple of people close to me call me sick for liking what I like. Its too bad that he could not have come up with some “cover: so you could have seen him and said goodbye or just said screw it I am dying who cares what people think. I don’t have an answer for you but if you were my Domme I would more than welcome you to my funeral.

  4. Ms. Kane, Thank you for sharing this post. I know you said “I don’t want any advice and am not asking for agreement or even support” But I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t tell you that I’m truly sorry that you lost your friend. Sending healing vibes to you in LV from OC.

  5. My Dear Dana….thank you for sharing this with us…So glad that Paul found you to scratch that itch of his and more importantly to have you as a friend…..there are a few lessons in your experience here that we all can learn from and benefit by…so thank you for that and for demonstrating again the care and love that you show to many.( I still chuckle at and love your “be kind or go away” admonition here on your blog). how nice and rare it is to meet someone like you that is as lovely on the inside as you are on the outside….just when I don’t think you can impress me more, you prove me wrong again! Sending big hugs your way, kiddo Phil

  6. You were great for him and he probably wanted to preserve your memory of seeing him at his strongest most appealing physical condition. Your time together was likely perfect for him and maybe he just wanted to preserve that rather than you see him in a weakened state. His “selfishness” in that action may have been simply just the ONLY thing he could control related to his hellish diagnosis.

  7. Ms Dana Kane,

    You said you didn’t want anything so I really hope I don’t offend you in any way especially for such a personal experience and relationship in your life.

    I just wanted to say how deeply sorry I am for your loss and my sincere condolences to both you and Michael as it sounds like the friendship was a blessing to all of you.

    I trust that having some space for expression supports you in some way and wanted to thank you sincerely for sharing this story with us and with such authenticity and openness. I’m sure it is supportive for others in their journeys to hear this story -I know it is for me. So thanks again for sharing it and being a reminder of how truly important it is to accept ourselves as well as others for whatever reason and to be more authentic, loving and kind in our lives while we can. Thank you for reflecting that just by being you. Take care – sending some love your way!

  8. Dana,

    This post was beautiful, poignant and cutting. I’m very sorry for the kind of complicated grief you must be dealing with when having a dear friend taken from you in more than one way. I can imagine the emotions you must be experiencing at having feeling invalidated in some sense. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for Paul to have to leave this earth denying himself the only thing that might have given him a more peaceful exit – his truth.

    Death leaves us with an irreparably damaged heart. Every loss is a wound that we have to live with, because there is no simply no other choice. But love creates memories that keep our wounded hearts beating. I know. Feels oxymoronic, sometimes, doesn’t it?

    Your world was a better place because Paul existed within in. This world, the one you created as a forum for the expression of being true to ourselves – it’s a gift to everyone who has ever felt not good enough, too flawed, ashamed, confused, rejected by the “real world.” I know that Paul appreciated this, and that he appreciated you.

    Maybe Paul took away your ability to say goodbye, but with it he left an opportunity for you to share this heartfelt post with us. It imparts a valuable message about finding the strength to evaluate ourselves as worthy so that we don’t have to live, or die, a lie.

    I love you,
    Angel

  9. Hi Ms. Dana, Your story about Paul was one of the most heartbreaking and touching stories that I have ever heard. I was crying after reading it. I also have Cancer, but in remission. :) However, I have made it clear to my current Ms. that if I ever get too sick to visit, Nothing would make me happier than for her to visit me. I am not ashamed of my Ms. Nor am I ashamed of enjoying being Spanked. It is my Kink, and it turns me on! However, it is only one aspect of who I am. I am a Total Person, not defined by one passion. And when I do pass, I want my Ms. front and center to pay her last respects to my spirit. I am certain Paul shared with you feelings and emotions he has never shared with anyone. Unfortunately he could not come to terms with his two lives. I am lucky in that respect. I do not hide( but I don’t advertise) who I am. I embrace my love with Spanking and Pain. Somehow it has given me freedom, and I am so Happy and Content with me. In my opinion, there is nothing closer than a Ms. and her sub. There is total trust, and I have feelings and emotions that I have never had with anyone else. That is something to be proud of, and to cultivate. My Ms. has a special place in my Heart Forever. I would like to think Paul felt that way also. Unfortunately, he could not express it. Damon

  10. It sounds as if you were both immeasurably better off because of the intersection of your paths. I hope time softens some of the anger and grief and the good memories of the “journey” replace the ending.

    This is powerful writing and I think part of what makes you exceptional. It forces us to look beyond stereotypes of disciplinarians, fetishes, etc. and see the humanness. Fingers crossed that society gains more acceptance over time.

  11. Ms. Kane,

    I’m honored to be among those with whom you would share these thoughts. You’ve expressed insight into his feelings and into your own. I’m glad you allow yourself to be sort of angry. Your decision to put his wishes ahead of your desires is admirable–not surprising, but admirable just the same. You don’t want advice, but I would offer three bits to others: (1) Don’t let anyone tell you how to grieve. (2) There is nothing magical about the 366th day. (“Well, it’s been a YEAR.”) (3) Find someone to talk to who will understand. You found us.

    Caring deeply,

    Cautious

  12. Very sorry to hear of the death of your friend. One of the hardest things to do is to honor such a request (or demand) as your friend paul made of you. From your writing, I can actually feel the loss, and what must have been a level of isolation paul experienced in his life.

    What a wonderful friend (and playmate) you were for him—-eventually your anger and frustration with your friend will move into joyful and loving memories. BTW, writing is always a wonderful relief; sharing it with others helps to lead us to those joyful and loving memories.

    Wishing you the best.
    Lynn

  13. Dearest Dana,

    Thank you for sharing some of your journey, friendship, and unconditional love for paul. I have no words that could ever express the pain you (and Michael) are feeling. All I can say is, you are an incredibly compassionate, giving, and loving woman. Paul was SO blessed to have YOU in his life…as many of us are as well!!

    Many, many, many, many, big hugs!!!

  14. Ms. Dana,

    I am just so very sorry to hear about your loss. Losing a loved one is hard to deal with, and only the passage of time can begin the healing process. I am certain that he must have thought of you as family, someone he could confide in and ‘be himself to. Please try to find consolation in the fact that he obviously cared a great deal for you and that your time together may have been the best ‘quality time’ he ever had.

    Thank you for having a good heart.

  15. Dana,

    First of all I am so, so sorry for your loss. I can empathize and sympathize with you. I understand your frustration, hurt and grief. All very normal and expected feelings.

    I wish I had some magic words or dew drops of wisdom to share with you, but I just don’t. Healing from loss is just one of those things that everyone will do and handle differently.

    I will share the one thing that was passes onto me after my parents fried 7 months apart a fairly young ages. You never really “get over it”. You learn to live with it and how you live with it can change from hour to hour, day to day , month to month etc…. You live differently. And some days it is ok and on some days when you least expect it to, it will suck ass. The best days and the hardest days are when you see something that reminds you of them and it makes you happy and smile but a little tinge of hurt is there to.

    Take care if yourself, be sad be angry be hurt it is all ok and it won’t feel like this forever.

    aJ

  16. Oh, God, how sad! I came across this by chance, and I am crying as I contemplate what you’ve shared here about your friend paul. The only consolation I can suggest is that at least he was honest and open enough to trust you with his innermost secret. I truly hope time helps you heal from this.

  17. …and do please let us know when you’ve uploaded paul’s artwork. If the drawing you included in your post was his, then he was truly a sensitive, remarkable man, and his life of insecurity, reflected in his art, is no less heart-wrenching than that of Vincent van Gogh. Lucky for him that you are there to immortalize his humanity!

    I shared the post with my wife, who regularly whips me because I request it. I told her how the post made me feel about how fortunate I was to have a wife I could be honest with about my needs. THANK YOU for what you do!

  18. Dear Ms. Kane,

    You are a good human being, one to whom we owe a great deal for your compassion. Those of us in closets live as if we were secret agents; our “vanilla” lives both genuine in our emotions and responsibilities, but with unseen “dark matter.” At best we can keep this all in balance and search for meaning in our “non-standard” lives. Acceptance of self comes with understanding, and it is heart-breaking that Paul was not able to do that. You are a treasure in anyone’s life.

    We in closets can find ways of bringing our companions in this part of our lives into the rest of our lives. Friendships are precious, and need tending.

    For all, thank you.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Ethan the incorrigible

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