Epilogue

holding hands

In another life did I do something right?
For you to finally find me and carry me home
You give me a world, where my heart is filled
There’s no room for sadness, for anything else

….

When I felt so lost, so alone and wandering
Through my deepest sorrow you reached though the dark
I look for your light, I try not to worry
‘Cause I know you’ll always carry me home

~”What If I” by Kirsty Thirsk

Just when I had given up hope of finding it, happiness dropped out of the sky, got comfortable, and announced an intention to stay as long as I wanted it to.

I spent most of the last year and a few months so far gone in the depths of grief that I never looked beyond the next day. I went to school, to work, made art, took care of myself and my cats. That was it. I dabbled in dating but my hope, faint to begin with, was quickly waning. I didn’t want to deal with the whole mess: getting dressed up, makeup and lipstick, putting myself out there for judgement, looked over like merchandise on a shelf. I wanted what I had hoped to find with Dustin: an unconditionally loving equal partner. Someone I could understand and relate to, someone who would do the same with me.

Failed date after mediocre date. Already being lied to and taken advantage of again. I was so over the entire process. I didn’t want this game playing bullshit. I was becoming convinced trust and honesty and mutual respect were too much to ask for. When I thought of my future, I thought of a comfortable sunny apartment with studio space and cats, and that was it. Love was going to be for other people. I’d had my shot, and I’d lost it.

To be honest, a part of me was frightened. Happiness and love aren’t free, and the price tag of losing them was staggering. I was not going to risk that level of pain and tearing grief for just anyone.

So I set up one last date. I’d actually scheduled three dates for one weekend; figured I’d wipe out the dangling possibilities so I could get back to making art for my semester break. The second I cancelled as the suitor proved to be an inconsiderate jackass before we’d even met, the third cancelled for health reasons.

It wouldn’t have mattered, because the first was destined to be the last.

We had talked every night for the four days leading up to this date. I already knew he was intelligent, with sweetness in his voice. I wasn’t prepared for the kindness of his brown eyes, the empathy of his soul. I wasn’t prepared for someone like him at all.

Lunch date became a walk in the park, became drinks in a cafe, became dinner, became hours of conversation in the parking lot. Conversation just flowed between us as we became aware exactly how much we had in common.

He sometimes says talking to me is like talking to himself in a mirror.

As the date rolled on, I became aware of a powerful physical attraction, one that ate at my self control and completely wiped out my sense of propriety, such as it was. What kept my hands to myself in fist-knotting tests of my self control was his stated wish to take things slowly, saying he didn’t kiss on the first date because it’s presumptuous. I didn’t want to kiss him on our first date because I knew as soon as our lips met, it would be all over and we’d wake up in a hotel the next morning. I didn’t leave our first date as much as I fled, trying desperately not to make a fool of myself in a restaurant parking lot.

When his sister asked how our date went, he said, “This one could be trouble.”

Oh, honey, he had no idea.

Saturday dates became weekends spent together, wrapping ourselves around each other, taking long walks and short hikes, sitting together watching the stars wheel overhead, telling stories of constellations and history.

Weeks have become months, hours spent on the phone every night as we’re separated by time and distance and obligations. We have yet to run out of things to talk about. I know the contours of his soul as I do my own, as he has come to know mine.

I am more in love than I ever have been before, and given my history, that’s saying something.

This is it. We have found our home.

How Else Can They Become?

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“Take the universe and grind it down to the finest powder, and sieve it through the finest sieve, and then show me one atom of justice, one molecule of mercy. You need to believe in things that aren’t true. How else can they become?”
~Death, from The Hogfather, by Terry Pratchett

I’m not very good at believing in things I can’t touch, but I’m getting better at it.

When I was blasted onto this journey through love and grief, I didn’t have a lot of support, emotional or otherwise. There was Sara, my Chicago friend with her own pain and generous heart, and there were a few others, but for the most part, I was on my own. I was directionless and without focus, my world and heart blown to such pieces that I had no hope of making them whole again.

I had written in The Longest Road about my desire to find something, anything, to help fill the void caused by Dustin’s death. I knew it wouldn’t be a new lover; I was not then and am not now able to pursue that path. But I needed something larger than myself and my grief to believe in; I needed to know that this pain wasn’t all there now was to me, to my life. I needed hope.

Enter Ms. Sarah Fimm. An independent musician and songwriter, she is the leader of a merry band of dreamers, artists and like-minded folk centered around a Facebook group called Inspire Art. There are also companion pages at Tumblr and Pinterest. It’s a global call to thinkers and dreamers, scientists and artists, writers and poets, of all kinds, of all stripes, to band together against human trafficking and modern slavery.

It’s also the group that quite probably saved my life. Although I would not have taken my own life, I would almost certainly have stopped living it, which is basically suicide that doesn’t violate an attendance policy.

Sarah was one of a handful of people encouraging me to begin this blog, to open up the howling wound and let it pour across the internet before it killed me inside. And make no mistake, it was eroding me from the inside out, all that stray dust and pain blowing through me until nothing was left but bare walls and gritty floors. A hollow shell.

At Inspire Art, I found a group of beautiful, caring people who were willing to listen, to hear my words and try to understand. People who offered no criticism, just empathy and unwavering support. They came, they read, and I imagine a few of them even cried along with me. And in return, I came, I saw their artistic efforts, I read their poetry, and they helped ignite a spark in a cold and barren place. I found that some were even encouraged and inspired by my words here, by what I have wrought out of an ageless grief and endless love.

I picked up a paintbrush for the first time in almost 15 years. I began drawing again. I began talking more, reaching out, making an effort to connect I would not have dreamed I had the energy for. I now string together a few mornings in a row that find me excited to get out of bed, excited to try. Something, in other words, that gives me joy amidst the darkness and loneliness. I relearned how to play.

This summer, our merry band will come together at an event dubbed “Powered by Dreaming,” also known as the Sparkle Park. In upstate New York, we will put our collective heads together with scientists, learners, and other inspired thinkers to make this world a better place, to help make ourselves and others better people. We will learn, we will connect, we will grow, and we will share this light with the world. And everyone is welcome to join us.

Because there isn’t enough light in this world. There isn’t enough understanding.

I lost the love of my life. He is gone from me now. So I will make of my life a tribute, a living legacy, so that something beautiful and pure can come from this loss. And I won’t do it alone.

Will you help us?

Psalmish

Yea, though I walk
This valley, dim and grey
I shall not want
I will build a little house
Hang damp hope to dry
And subsist here

Still waters reflect a blank sky
Who needs light and love?
Grey has softer edges, a more gentle heart
I will build sandcastles in this ash
That blows and curls
I know they won’t last

Here in my valley, dear shadow
I will fear no evil
Yours or mine
I will build a sanctuary here
In this pale thin light
And rest

I know you will
Follow me all the days of my life
Your cool blue soul
I will dwell in the house of your love forever
And when I am ready
I will dance in the sun again

Now

I showed you my hands
They were empty
I used to have active fingers
Nimble. Always had so much to say
Silent now

Stillness resonates
I’m defined more, now,
By what I don’t say
Don’t notice

I hear a voice in the wind, now
But I can’t understand
Mind has gone blank
I don’t even try

Stone and wind, flame and tide
There must be a pattern here
Numb fingers fumbling
Sightless eyes seeing
I must learn to speak again
Now