Monday, May 23, 2016

Life Lessons Live On

Every year I track her down on Facebook to make sure she’s still around.  Our disastrously intense, messy, and passionate love affair came to an end almost seventeen years ago, yet I still need to know she is out there somewhere, that she exists, that she’s still alive.  One year my FB creeping yielded that she had moved and was in a new new relationship; another year’s tracking revealed that she was in the hospital again, and still another year’s data mine pointed  toward a new business she had started.  This year my search led me to Debi’s obituary.

The sense of loss I’ve felt over the last week since discovering she’s gone is nothing short of life-altering.  Our tumultuous four-year relationship ended exactly as one would expect, in catastrophe, given the circumstances.  I was a young, proud gay woman struggling to find my way in the world on my own, for the first time without the emotional support of my family.  Debi, almost twenty years my senior, dropped the entire life that she knew - husband, kids, business, and home - to love me just as I was.

Our life together was unsustainable in every way imaginable.  While we kept in touch for quite a few years after our difficult split, fostering the connection eventually became a strain for both of us.  While the relationship had died, the love and respect remained in tact.

I mourn the loss of Debi from this earth.  I shed tears for the family she left long before her death.  I grieve for the loss of “first love” and innocence.  I sorrow over the vulnerability I’ve tucked away all these years as a measure of self-protection from the hurt I experienced during our partnership.  I shed tears for the loss of a life guide who helped form me into the human I am today.

Our unlikely relationship proved pivotal in my growth as a person.  I learned:

What sort of mother I want to be
To seek healthy relationships at any cost
Never to rely on the affirmations of others for my own happiness
Laughter heals most pain
Self-care is necessary to be a good ANYTHING (mother, lover, worker, etc.)
To be true to myself at all costs
Love is NOT enough to keep a relationship alive when practicalities are not considered
To honor the fine line between how much of myself I can give without falling off the ledge
Life lessons don’t die just because the person who taught them is gone