It was a gorgeous Fall day filled with sunshine and anticipation. Orange, red and yellow leaves barely clung to the branches of the trees surrounding the temple; a simple white gazebo, tucked on top of a hill. Nature held on until the final “I do” to release its colorful confetti in celebration of two souls that had somehow found each other through the rubble of their individual pasts. Friends and family came together to bear witness to a union even they sensed was a Holy gift. Pre-destined, perfect timing, all guided by a God that knew these two would help one another grow into their spiritual skins. If an infrared picture could have been taken, the souls of those they loved who had passed before, wrapped their arms around them in a circle of celebration and angelic good wishes. A mother’s presence crossed over from heaven and the light of her joy warmed the hearts of those witness to this special day. Finally, her daughter found her worth and because of this, her dreams were coming true.
The couple wrote their own vows. The words went beyond the ordinary. They wanted their lives to be more than to love, honor and cherish, until death parted them. They were equally interested in making a difference in the world they lived both separately and as a team: in their own ways, unique in their interests and talents, yet united in all that felt important to them - people, kindness, curiosity, values. Two people locking arms, knowing they could accomplish more together than apart. They had each others back. Always. Their love was a soft place to rest and they cherished their time together. Yet they also intuitively knew this relationship was much larger than both of them. It was about the big picture; the eternal one. They crossed paths to learn and grow from the lessons their union would offer them. It was truly a soul connection.
Falling in love was familiar, gentle and easy, like revisiting a past life and recognizing you have known one another before. It was a safe place to live, devoid of drama, and reinforced an unfailing trust; a cozy comfort zone of the best kind. Their relationship was a place where they could be themselves, always. It was an invitation to see each other through fresh eyes, each others and God’s, instead of peering out from the harsh lens of their individual insecurities and perceived defects.
He taught her to trust others and most of all trust love, something she had little faith in. She taught him to share and be open and honest with his feelings, something he struggled to do. He taught her to take risks and walk with adventure. She offered him the experience, adoration, and love of a child while he learned how to mentor and parent. He taught her she had more talent and ability than she gave herself credit for. She taught him to reach deeper inside and not only know the God of his religion, but experience Him in personal ways. They both enjoyed the gift of humor; his sarcastic, hers self-deprecating. Life had already validated for both of them, that even in the darkest of moments, humor isn’t irreverent, it’s life-saving, and can be a grounding force for putting things back into perspective. They possessed curious natures and this trait made life an adventure, although he was clearly the more experimental of the two. Back and forth- student and teacher trading roles as easily as breathing in the freshness of a Spring day after many dark nights searching for answers.
A perfect union between two flawed people with the intention of bringing forth their better angels.
His physical presence left her in January of 1999. The grief was like a thick, black smoke choking the life out of her for a long time. She ran for her life. The harder she ran, the deeper and darker it got. Finally, she collapsed and groped around in the blackness for some light. Any light. Emergency light. Night Light. Generator. There were plenty. His family. Her family. Friends. Kind strangers. She stood still and felt the loss and cried enough tears to fill a new ocean.
I am her.
A dear friend shared with me today that she has never had the experience of love at the level I had. That’s not the first time someone has said that to me. It was unique. It was special. This same friend added, “The grief must be so deep.” It is. His love changed me and his death changed my life. But, every day I am alive, it’s a choice. I can choose to be grateful and honor the gifts and the growth, or get lost in the maze of what might have been. Most days, those better angels, which he helped to reveal, are in charge.
On days like today, I miss him. Kirk Diedrich, author and poet, said, “When you meet the one who changes the way your heart beats, dance with them to the rhythm for as long as the song lasts.” Our song will last forever. The lyrics may have changed , but when I close my eyes and get very still, the ethereal strain of the melody is seared into my heart forever.