There’s a lot of thought I invested in this when I learned Clare was dying in the hospital last October, after I was home and healing, and my initial, visceral, and spontaneous feeling was . . .

I would trade places with Clare so she could continue on.

I thought of all the life experiences I’ve had, and how many life experiences Clare wanted to have. Simple things, like going to a Seahawks game and walking through fog. Or more life-changing things like working with the City of Albuquerque to match shelter animals with peers as comfort companions.

Clare wanted to enjoy life and make the world better, and she did, yet there was so much more she didn’t fit into her 31 years. There was so much she told me she was going to do with her life. She wanted to be married with a family, and outright told me (not hinted) she didn’t want me to wait a year or more for me to propose to her. I promised I wouldn’t, and had plans (and the game tickets) to do the cliche Jumbotron proposal at a Seahawks game in November.

This is the first time I’ve shared this. It is difficult.

I sent the game tickets to my friend and his wife on my birthday, the same day of our Celebration of the Life of Clare Clarissa Nina Castellano.  I was going to give her the game tickets on my birthday as a “reverse birthday gift”, the sort of formish thing I did she would have adored.

This is the first time I’ve shared this. It is difficult.


There was so much we talked about we were going to do together, and after five months since she passed away, I realize and I understand she could have all these things without me.

For my part, I had accomplished so much I wanted of my life already by the time I met Clare, and I’d already changed the world for the better where was I satisfied I didn’t need to do more, that anything else was icing.

Clare needed more time is how my mind progressed. As far as I’m concerned, her cake was only half-iced when she left this world. Where’s the logic in that?

So it’s five months on, and the same visceral, immediate feeling of  “I would trade places with Clare so she could continue on” remains.

This isn’t a lamenting pondering or regretful romanticizing of my time with Clare. We were incredibly happy and in love. Yet, our final two weeks together before we both entered the hospital, for me to heal and for Clare to die, were two of the hardest weeks of my life. It could be easy to fall upon my hypokalemia-pseudo-emotions rather than the reality as a lazy dismissal,  a temporary (non-bioplar-related) hiccup, but it is not how I truly feel or felt.

No, what I’m feeling is a sense of loving altruism where I kept every promise I made to Clare, both during her time with me and actions after her death, so my tasks on this planet felt accomplished. My son and father would understand this wishful thinking of mine as “Steve feeling and behaving like Steve”, others before himself. That is an aside, and there is a point behind and beyond all of this, something that transcends.

The world was so much more interesting and richer with Clare in it, and it is a small sacrifice for me to exchange my place for hers.

It’s a moot point because even if possible she wouldn’t have let me. I’m simply happy I had the chance to tell her this in the hospital the one time I circumvented her father’s bullying blame-shifting dishonest ignorant fear-mongering to see her, before she passed away.

Today, after months to reflect on this, I continue to carry the heartfelt and reasoned wish I could have traded my life for hers. Again, Clare wouldn’t have let me, but the offer was made regardless, even though it’s akin to cinematic rom-com fantasy.

This is the first time I’ve shared this, and it is easy and not difficult because feeling this way leaves me feeling peacefully happy and ultimately complete. And, if you knew the two of us together as a couple, there is a solid logic to this.

I’ve wanted to compose this narrative, and it is a difficult and necessary stepping stone in my recovery journey. That’s about all I have to say about this.

Thank you for being you, Clare Castellano.