This is the last remaining deeply personal post. I’ve left it up, because the most significant changes in my life can be mapped from this experience. I am ever grateful to all of those who have stood by me over the years and helped me not only come to terms, but to flourish after.
Today was a rough day. I woke up missing my late partner, J. The mood for the day was set. I have become accustomed to seeing him in my dreams, where he shows up out of nowhere, and I am so grateful to see him after so long, then he disappears into thin air with no warning. Not the way I like the dreams to end, but at least I get to see him and speak to him again. If he were alive today, I don’t know if he would love me the way he did when he was alive. I was a different woman then. A vibrant, younger, healthier, more adventurous and spiritual woman. Since he’s been gone, I’ve changed, and not entirely for the better.
I met him when I was 22. He sat down at my table while I was doing Spanish homework and began to make up silly sentences in Spanish for me… a week later, he sat with me again and saw a symbol that combined 7 of the worlds’ religious symbols on my mug that I got from volunteering at my old church in Sacramento, and it led to a conversation about the different spiritual paths we had ventured. We began to meet regularly and spent hours into the night discussing and studying different books and theories and paths to spiritual and emotional growth. Thus we laid the foundation for what was to become the most significant relationship of my life.
We spent 6 months doing this before anything “romantic” started. Some of the most romantic moments I’ve had in my life were some of the most simple, shared with him: massage by a fire, 3 summers spent watching fireworks from his backyard every time the team at the baseball park across the street from his house won, camping and hiking the Sierra Nevada mountains, and music festivals. For whatever it was worth, I fell in love with him and desperately needed to be close to him.
I fell deeply in love with this man who had lived a fairy-tale hippie homestead life in a Tipi for 13 years, lived on a few different cooperative farms/communes and was the most self-sufficient and simple person I had ever met. He lived simply, grew his own food, and preferred nature to anything urban. He was creative, mechanical, musical, and a poet. He wrote long theories on the flow of nature and how to work it into our human lives. He despised commercialism and unsustainable consumption, and feared the system, including government and western medicine. He was the embodiment of things that I had only heard of, but had little experience, and I wanted to be a part of his dream to go back to living in harmony with nature. We spent weekends camping and hiking to get out of Babylon, and the more time I spent in nature’s beauty with him, the more I wanted to share it with him eternally.
I was young, and hadn’t yet dealt with the most painful parts of my past, which sometimes resulted in immature behaviors; he simply didn’t put up with these when they reared their ugly heads. He would walk away from them, which I often took to be cold and uncaring, but I would always come around to my desire to learn and to grow, and little by little, I began to change my behaviors and lose my fear of abandonment. The more I grew, the more he responded to me in the loving ways that I cherish the most about our relationship. It was the first relationship that taught me to trust. He was consistent, forward thinking and moving, and put all of his energy into creating the life that he wanted, and I wanted all of those things for myself. I learned by his example, and through our studies and journeys into the realm of books such as A Course in Miracles, The Four Agreements, Handbook to Higher Consciousness, and mysticism. We took meditation classes together, and sometimes just spent our time together in complete silence, observing the world around us and getting grounded in self-awareness. He was more of a father to my son than his own dad had been at that point. About a year into our relationship, I went off of anti-depressant medication, and I continued to grow for another 5 blessed years. We never fought. At times we disagreed, and sometimes I would raise my voice, but he would walk away and wait until I could discuss things rationally. And he would discuss them with me until I had a sense of what was going on in my head behind my moodiness, my pride, and my fears.
I knew from about the end of our first year together that I would be with him for the rest of his life; I just never realized how soon that would be. In our fifth year, we moved from where we both grew up and later met to a nearby town, and he hated the new building I was managing, even though it was a vast improvement from the one before. The new town turned out to be a very cold, unfriendly place to live, and while I spent my days working, he would travel to the river parks at the headlands of the foothills nearby to spend his time in nature. He eventually found a job in the northern redwoods, in a river canyon that was extraordinarily inconvenient to raising a child and having any kind of job in town, so he moved there alone. We talked on the phone every night, but my worst fear had been realized. I felt abandoned by him, and a month after he moved, I broke up with him. I immediately found solace in the arms of a man who offered every bit of romantic idealism that I could imagine, but that romanticism became so smothering to me that I ended it a short while later and got back together with J. Little did either of us know that the next few months would be the last few of J’s life. We had a few incredible visits, as I had found my way up to my current home, a four hour drive from where he was.
On his last visit, over the holidays, he fell ill. On Christmas night, he awoke with simultaneous fever and chills, which began the last week of his life. As he became sicker, I worried and pleaded with him to see a doctor, but he refused. I spent the nights on a cot in my living room, as I was afraid to get sick during my first few months in a new job. I yelled at him to get help, angry that he was refusing to get better, but he told me that he had watched his friends go to the hospital and come out worse than they went in, and he was damned if he was going to let that happen to him. I felt helpless and isolated myself from him for those last few nights. Over our last weekend together, he started to seem better. His coughing sounded better, he was more coherent, and he got up to take a shower and let me change the bed. He even tried to eat. But two days later, he began to exhibit strange symptoms, and I called his best friend. His friend spoke to him, and then told me to call back if things got any worse. The next morning I awoke to even worse symptoms. I was frightened, and knowing that he would fight paramedics if I called an ambulance, I called his friend instead then went to the living room to cry.
When his friend arrived, J was laying in bed, getting worse by the moment and we carried him, fighting, to the car and drove him to the hospital. J sat in the waiting room listless, and said nothing to me until the Doctors tried to give him a sedative. He said “don’t let them do it, let me do it!”. I think he knew his time was coming and he wanted control over it. The doctor led us out of the room as J fought the nurses, and explained that he had severe pneumonia, with sepsis that had caused his kidneys to begin to shut down. We decided to let the hospital do whatever they could to help him heal, and we left to go get something to eat and to change into more comfortable clothes, as it was getting late in the evening. When we came back to the hospital, we learned that the doctors had induced a coma and started dialysis, as there was no other way that his system would get the rest it needed to heal. They said that we would know within the next 12 hours if it would work or not. I called J’s son and gave him the bad news, and his friends in the river canyon, who raced to meet us at the hospital, arriving just minutes after he finally passed. I cried and silently begged him to prove the doctors wrong and heal, and I prayed, and cried some more. It was New Years Day. Close to midnight, I finally realized that no amount of pleading or praying would bring him back. It was up to him. I told him that if he was ready to go, then he should, and I held his hand as the heart monitor began to slow, and we heard the flatline warning. The breathing machine continued to pump air into his lungs even after his heart stopped, and I nearly flipped out until the doctor came in and turned off the machine, at which point he was pronounced dead. It was just before midnight, and the love of my life had left this planet.
I spent the next week in shock… supported by J’s friends from the canyon. We packed up his things and I took his journals, his guitar, his djembe, and the love letters and poems we had written to each other in our early days. We waited until the first week of spring to have a celebration of life, and had a blues jam out on a friends’ farm in a meadow with a converted school bus/stage. It was a beautiful way to say goodbye. I took his ashes to our favorite canyon and scattered them over the spot where a seasonal waterfall fell, and collected a few for a locket that I wear to this day.
I spent the next year travelling to meet our mutual friends, joined a sangha where we would do yoga, then meditate, then have dinner and share the journey of our practice. I did a grief recovery group, and I focused on spending lost time with my son. During that first year after he passed, I continued to grow and blossom, but as life went on, my depression eventually returned and I began to change. I got back on an anti-depressant and sought therapy. I gained nearly 100 pounds over a 5 year period, my focus on natural, whole foods going to hell. I found myself lost in my desire for what was, and began to detach from the spiritual community I had joined. Work became increasingly stressful and I continued to slide downhill, until I hurt my back. Then my life began to spiral. It took three years before I opened up to a new relationship. I was not in love with my new boyfriend, but I put a lot of energy into loving him, as J taught me that love is a verb, not an emotion. When that relationship tanked amidst my deepening depression, a crisis at work involving PTSD flashbacks relating to childhood issues, along with chronic back pain, financial problems, family drama and no real friends to fall back on, I overdosed on three bottles of pills. I wanted to join J, and that was the only peaceful thought in my mind that dreadful night.
Over the the next year, in my recovery from my suicide attempt, I had started trying to get back in touch with the woman that I was when J and I were together. He began to visit me in my dreams.
It was random when he appeared, and he would always leave before I could say goodbye. But at least I got to see him. My Dr and I found a medication change to help me stop the developing sleeping cycle that had started as I often came home from work, fed my son, and went to bed by 6pm; but through all of the medication changes I had been through in the past year, it wasn’t enough to stop a downward spiral. Things began to get rough at work again, and I began to experience new triggers and live in old memories, and my depression and anxiety began to rapid cycle as it had in the old days before my growth journey began.
So here I am today. Missing J so much that I want nothing more than to see him again. But with a desire to change my situation. I want to become the woman I was when we were together, and grow again. And I don’t want any relationship that isn’t grounded in growth and spirituality. I want to stop the cycle of fear that I’ve been under there for the past three years. And I want to love again. My only consolation is that if I learned nothing else with J, it is that the universe/Spirit/God-ess gives us exactly what we need at any given point in our lives. It’s up to me to open my eyes and heart and mind enough to see it and reach out and grab it. So my prayer tonight is that I can see beyond my grief and trauma, and find whatever is waiting for me to continue this journey.