Steve and I at UC Davis, circa 1989
I’ve been thinking about my college boyfriend Steve so much lately. In August, I reached out to him impulsively—knowing that he probably wouldn’t even get the email; I was drafting his address from my malfunctioning memory— because it felt like what I had to say needed to be expressed and in just a few words I told him that even after almost 30 years of not seeing him, I continue to be grateful that he’s in this world and that I even got to know him for a short time.
And the breakup itself in 1990, at 3317 Biscayne Bay Place, Davis, CA—non-Steve losses having made my heart shutter like it was out of business—started a landslide of searching for life outside our experience, and each year on his birthday was an ode to the “closure” of that chapter because I was new to grief and in my mistaken belief that any such thing could be finite, I thought that’s what was healthy.
I thought “closure” was what healthy people did; I thought that psychological theory and brain space spoke the biggest truth and that “moving on” could heal the loss and make me whole.
But such was not the truest way and thus do I reflect that I’ve spent the better part of my life beating to the rhythm of that era as if it was the legend by which to gauge my growth until finally—when the full sight of grief was faced—I came to know that “loss” is actually a malleable entity.
Because even in the barren land of logic, thought was never meant to eclipse feeling, and that there is darkness in life that claws at us forever so also should something of heart be allowed the space to nurture us in equal measure.
For both over grief and Time, something of heart never really can be finite, because the love and the joy and the connection never stops existing, and in fact, it’s the exact opposite: the love and the joy and the connection speaks to us forever and acts as guide through life lighting the way in our quest of those same feelings even as it simultaneously makes all the other things that happen more bearable.
Knowing Steve nestled inside my soul to heal me in ways my logical mind can’t even speak to and for that it was not a loss and never could be. It was actually a gift that I’ve spent the rest of my life receiving.
[My most authentic heart space and deepest condolences to the mother/teacher who lost their child to suicide this week; I do not know you except through the words of my child which surround you in veritable halo but I do know that darkness comes to the kindest people and that I wish with all my soul that it were not so. I’ve been suicidal, courtesy of a succession of overwhelming life events to include my own daughter being suicidal as well as an onslaught of unkind people, and know that besides my children, the one thing that kept me going is one night coming to understand that the love I give this world—love free of obligation and ego; for the tenderness and the vulnerability that exists—is actually the most healing experience for my own darkness I could ever receive. And I know that some people can’t do that —some people go to cynicism or hedonism—but I believe that you can, and I have faith that your own love will protect you in these times when it is obvious that your heart will never be as it was before].
[This blog occurred because the other day when I found out about her child, I was standing in the kitchen, texting my youngest daughter about it, wanting but unable to help this suffering mother, then remembered a dream I had the night before about Steve—had been thinking of him the day before in an epiphanic moment—and suddenly a Carl Sagan quote came into my head. Carl Sagan, from Contact: “You’re an interesting species. An interesting mix. You’re capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you’re not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable is each other.”
We are our heroes and in some way large or small, we can all make our own emptiness bearable. Thank you for reading and much love to you for doing so in non-judgment].