Typically narcissistic blogging.


I have been waffling about writing this post, because I haven’t the faintest idea of how to describe where my mind and heart have been over the past few days.

Sunday night I learned that Donovan Pugh, a friend and member of my essential chosen family, was in the ICU at Highland. He was comatose after a severe head injury.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I lost my shit. I lost my shit, and then prepared to visit Donovan, to see him in his bed in the ICU, to tell him I love him, to hope he could hear me. Monday afternoon I told him everything I could in the twenty minutes I had with him. Monday night I went to work and tried not to let everything I was feeling, all the anguish and the fear that I was losing my friend, show. I failed, of course.

But this was true of all of us, to some extent or other. For some reason, as my friend Marisa observed, time and the world didn’t stop and wait for us to catch up with them. And the people around us—at work, on BART, in the corner store—somehow didn’t know that one of the most magnificent people in the world was fighting for his life in a tiny, ugly room in Oakland. I almost got into a fight with a guy who was self-righteously butt-hurt that I didn’t take the time to sign his petition when I was on my way to visit the ICU.

So all of the people who love Donovan had to somehow keep moving and keep functioning as if we weren’t terrified that an integral part of our world might be ending.

Thursday evening Donovan moved on to the next party, and we were all left behind to keep this one going.


I have been wrestling with grief, and the forms it can take. I’ve been fundamentally relieved and confused by the way in which my grief over the loss of Donovan is so intertwined with the joy I have been finding with this woman for whom I have fallen so very, very hard. I’ve been comforted by the fact that he would be the last person in the world to begrudge me my happiness despite this loss, and he would have loved her for, if nothing else, the fact that she’s been so wonderfully supportive and kind throughout.

I have been reading people’s stories and memories of Donovan, and looking at the pictures they have been posting, and it’s been truly amazing. He managed to touch so many people (some of them appropriately) and it shows. People have displayed a fantastic combination of love, exasperation, and humor in their efforts to remember Donovan at his best and at his most improper. It has made me think about this post, which I wrote after attending the most depressing wake in the history of wakes, and realizing how true it remains.

I have been avoiding imagining a world without Donovan, and his soundtracking tweets, and his Ren Faire shenanigans. I have not been allowing myself to fathom family events without his hugs and his ability to throw dignity and decorum to the wind (if he even arrived with them in the first place, which was unlikely). I have not been allowing myself to see the ways in which the world has grown visibly darker without him. And when I do, I know my heart will continue to break.

If there is a party in the sky, I hope they have plenty of pickle juice. If there is another destination, I hope they appreciate the occasional reacharound. If there is an afterlife, it just got a hell of a lot more fun. RIP, Donovan Pugh. I love you.

Wherein the P stands for…Party? Pickle? Prank? It’s unclear.

17 responses

  1. When my father got diagnosed with the brain tumor and then he watched cancer steal him away from us, I remember quite clearly the giant horror of the entire world carrying on as if nothing had happened – as if one of the essential support beams of the universe hadn’t just been rudely and brutally hacked out, leaving us all lurching. How can someone so wonderful and so special and who filled the room up with life and love and laughter be suddenly and brutally ripped from us, and time and progress show that they have no decency and will not stop to observe silence.

    I know this well. I am so so sorry for your loss. So much love to you and his family (both blood and chosen).

    April 28, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    • Thank you. You encapsulate the feeling I am trying to describe perfectly.

      I love you, too.

      April 29, 2012 at 3:55 am

  2. Sorry for your loss, WP.

    April 29, 2012 at 2:34 am

  3. Hey, I’m super sorry for your loss. I know how hard it is to lose someone when you can’t actually get a verbalized response out of them before they pass. I lost my sister September 21 last year, and she was in a similar state due to respiratory issues. I can really empathize with you, but I am glad that you have someone that is assisting you through this death. Keep on trucking, big guy! I still struggle daily, but every day is a new challenge with new feelings. I just gotta keep waking up to see what the feeling tomorrow will be.

    I can get into a funk and forget to live in celebration of her life. It sounds like you have that down well! Remembering all the good times and happiness that he brought to your life. I’m sure your life is much different having known him. And remember that.

    Even though I’m just some creepy blog stalker, if you ever need anything, I’m here! (itsanna87@gmail.com)

    April 29, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    • Thank you. And I am so sorry to hear about your sister.

      I genuinely believe Donovan would be utterly disappointed in all of us if we didn’t celebrate him properly, and didn’t keep enjoying our lives and having fun even in the midst of his loss. He was a man who wanted his loved ones to be happy, to have fun, to enjoy the shit out of every moment. While of course I have to acknowledge the deep and real grief I feel over his loss, I also need to remember my sense of humor, etc.

      Or I am not remembering him or appreciating the role he played in my life properly.

      April 29, 2012 at 7:27 pm

  4. Sunshine

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

    April 29, 2012 at 9:35 pm

  5. Ryan

    Thank you for posting this. It is great to see that my brother has given so much love and joy to others, and hopefully has provided some sort of example to us to not be afraid.. to pick up the phone and call the people we care about, and to live our life with purpose.

    April 30, 2012 at 9:28 am

    • All of those things are true. And now that I have been a witness to the strength and grace displayed by both you and your mother in this time, I am beginning to understand that Donovan’s family is just as remarkable as he was, and I am absolutely honored to know all of you.

      April 30, 2012 at 9:37 am

  6. rmharman

    I’m sorry for your loss. I didn’t know him, but he sounds delightful.

    You would think, after having a few people close to me go away like that, that I would come to some kind of accomodation with death, but it would appear not; I can’t seem to accept the inevitable. Rhiow’s Meditation helps, at least a bit.

    April 30, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    • Thank you. And the deaths of people we love should never be something to which we become inured. There is no accommodation with death. Even in acceptance, there is no accommodation. *sigh*

      May 1, 2012 at 12:13 pm

  7. What an amazing picture, WP. So sorry.

    May 2, 2012 at 1:17 pm

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  9. Jill Aro

    What a beautifully written tribute to honor your friendship with Donovan. He was an amazing person that I had the priviledge to watch grow from a young boy to a man. A wonderful, dynamic human being who was obviously loved by those who knew him. Donovan’s mom, Dee Dee has been one of my best friends for close to thirty years and the depth of her pain for the loss her “baby” still runs just as deep today as it did almost a year ago. She is one of the strongest people I know and I stand in amazement of her strength to carry on with life, a life forever changed by the loss of Donovan and a life now lived everyday with the pain of such a profound loss, an ache in her soul that will last an eternity…..but the world doesn’t stop and life does go on.
    Donovan was an organ donor and his wishes were carried out by his family. Take comfort in knowing at the end of his life he provided the gift of life to others…..so life does go on…

    April 6, 2013 at 6:13 pm

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