A Shakespearean Ending…
“Hey, I Love You!!”There it was on my phone when it came out of airplane mode early on a Saturday. By the time those words were read she was already gone forever. At that time I didn’t know it.
They were not words we had ever exchanged. Despite everything we discussed and a daily communication cadence that was vigorous and consistent it was not a topic that ever came up. Implied perhaps but never said.
i read it again, waited for the punchline, the set up, or another text stuck in the void of a telco network to come through as a retraction.
The last drops of coffee came out of the machine with a gasp. I replayed the words in my head. The truth is i was shocked, happy, confused, and instantly worried. It was out of character. My reply back “Happy Saturday! Love you too” then detailing my weekend schedule including how and when i could be reached.
Because “You suck as a texting partner” were M’s words to me again and again every few weeks when life or necessity spun me in another direction and delayed replies to her.
Of course she would never see my words.
It was a very natural thing to say. In fact I loved her very much. Beyond that there was a feeling of great deal of responsibility to and in so many ways for her.
Anyone who is close to me i just assume knows that i love them in some way and by default care about the others in their lives in some form or fashion. I choose to not have many close friends, am maniacal about who does and doesn’t really get to know enough to be close. It is a defense mechanism borne out of my childhood.
Our relationship was not as most would expect. it was not torrid and overtly sexual. In fact there was very very little of that. Although the normal stuff never got written about. i was one quarter part lover four million two hundred and twelve thousand parts vanilla friend/advisor/insurance agent (not literally) and consultant ( a little too literally at times).
We shared the mundane simplicity of our everyday lives with each other usually from afar for a few years. It was not a thing that was natural for her but something i needed when we first got together. it came from me being desperately lonely on a personl level and needing a very human connection. Eventually it became a tenet of our friendship.
Sunrise pictures sent to me from her deck. Pictures of my shitty hotel coffee. Her work related things and heart breaks. I’d make a passing reference to what ever contract or spread sheet I was staring at. A picture of her looking like she had enough and the kids happy as could be in line at an amusement park. From me? A pic of the endless parade of morons at an airport of course.
Then there were the dirty pics. Or more accurately the pictures of literal piles of dirt, sod, root bulbs or whatever landscaping project was in mid flight.
She would constantly brag about her other partner. I knew he truly loved and cared for her in a way I never could. I’d smile quietly as M went on and on about him.
She would send me pictures of his creations, handiwork, and countless other projects. It was sweet. She never told him about it of course. On the rare occasion she would grouse about something i’d remind her “Remember he really really loves you.”
There can be a beauty in sharing someone even if the relationship with that third person isn’t as everyone paints it as ideal in the poly world. We each fit into our boxes and knew about the other. Yet never interacted. I would later come to learn he was as supportive of me as I was of him.
That is both truly beautiful and totally heartbreaking. I was pushing her towards him and he would push her towards me. Both acting out of what we thought best and would make her happy.
That was my main job really. Being there helping her find things and people that made her happy. Reminding her she had value and a lot of people who loved her for who she was when she couldn’t or wouldn’t see it. Ulitmately though i failed terribly.
In the Land of Mushrooms
I was still in the dark. Over the next 72 hours would feel every emotion i have ever had. From the unexpected joy of reading those words. To concern when no reply came that day. Her Twitter fell silent.
By late Sunday i was angry with her. Absolutely pissed in fact. Standing at a concert she would have loved. Sent a few notes her way beforehand. Nothing came back.
She was of course dead but i didn’t know yet. I began to shut down and withdraw. Fuck it became a refrain in my mind.
When people go silent for a bit its one thing. Life happens, plans change, internet doesn work etc.
When they disappear into nothingness for days (without warning) and that was not normal it means its over. Replaying all those times in my head that had happened.
The one time before she had done this had been particularly hard. It followed another true heartbreak too closely. Although we moved past it there is a mark that if you look closely still remains. Becuase of that I never let her (or anyone) nearly as close again.
Gaurding myself, emotions, and my thoughts. In those hours it seemed that well fuck here we go. Brilliant at business but stupid in everything else.
Then the thinking went from there to she was going to show up unannounced on my doorstep Which would have been fine after the initial dust up and schedule fubars.
To I had “hit my expiration date” in usefulness in her life “and she just fucking left and not bothered to say so”. To say anger and rage were not the predominant emotion for 36 hours would be a lie. i was bitter and scorned with her. That dissolved quickly.
Late Monday afternoon i would send
“Hey not trying to intrude. You’ve been quiet. Just let me know you’re OK”
Anger had faded and fear had set in. Something was wrong. Intuition. Somewhere in my dark fucked up mind I knew that as early as Saturday at 7am something bad had happened. How wrong was a different matter.
My own fears were fed by the memories of watching what another i cared deeply went through when she lost her partner.
Walking through my town the next morning those images of watching a vibrant brilliant woman brea and teeter on the edge started to haunt me in new ways. Would the world around me crash if what i had begun to fear was true.
Resigning myself to the fact no matter what the case i may never know anything was the hardest part.
Less than 24 hours later I would find out the truth. I had never spoken to Mr. Texas and the first time i did he would tell me the woman we shared and both loved was dead.
What he did was hard for him. In fact “I never wanted to hear your voice and never expected to talk to you” was literally said.
However his reaching out and informing me was a kindness he chose to do for my benefit.
It is something that i will always be truly grateful for.
She’s Gone – The Simple Beauty in a time of Loss
In case it’s not clear the subtext here is this is the “happy” part of the story. In the coming days Mr. Texas, her other partners, and i would be in touch. Supporting each other.
Mr. Texas had the hard part. He shared her everyday life, knew her kids, had integrated his own children into the household. My concern quickly became her children, him, and his kids.
It was a strangely familiar problem for me. A death and me at a distance. I had missed the memorials of two local friends that had passed. it was a mistake that would not be made again.
Instead his kindness toward me continued. We still check in on each other. Sometimes talking for an hour or more. I consider him a friend.
Mr. Texas is shining example of what good people in this life can be like. Far beyond that how wonderful and selfless people can be in the darkest of days. And all in all he is doing amazing. It would make her so happy to see.
The Blonde was wonderful as were my own kids. I am not a person who cries much. A few tears every decade. I had to choke back my own emotions as the others i share my life with were told about what happened. Never expecting to outlive anyone i was involved with.
i am sure i hurt Alice along the way. It was never my intent but i had to shut down, to keep moving. Of course i love her, Raven and their family. View their kids as my own and share their hopes and dreams. It was not a time or place for a discussion for me. I was simply not equipped, still processing and a million other things. In many ways i still am processingbit all. I was lucky and turned where it was safe for me to do so.
As for my kids. Diva asked questions, About her, her kids, Texas and a million other things. Lil let’s me talk and still reminds me its ok to miss people.
If you need help get help.
Mental health in this country has just now become a slight conversation in mainstream conversations. It needs to be at thenfore front.
or Call (888) 932-0017
Or call 1 800 994 9662
The morning of July 4th I found myself debating even during a workout with 142bpm heart rate when was too soon to start talking to a therapist about what had happened. How I was feeling. And about how i should be feeling?
On the 5th i would call someone already paid to deal with me and my bull shit ask those questions. Along with how do you find a therapist who would get it.
By lunch time i had hit an operational mode. All that mattered was getting the website back from the hackers and putting up the memorial post. Less than 40 hours in to knowing and would end up doing some gymnastics to get things online again. Then came the obsession with how to tell others what had happened. While controlling the narrative.
I loved her and didn’t want anyone to think any less of her.
My own kids struggle with depression and anxiety. Therapy and other treatments have helped them greatly in so many ways. It’s not easy. It is a process but it can help.
My concern for them grew both short and long term as i came to grips with M’s death.
Personally I did what I always do, bury myself in work. If there is not a moment alone there is no time to think. I am told that it is self medicating. Some people take drugs, others drink, and a million other things. Work, coffee, and yoga with a side of cycling are my methods.
Work of course is in the lead by a thousand miles. It hasn’t made me work less however recognizing it for what it is does help. Those moments can’t last forever. Eventually there is a lull and sadness creeps in when it is least expected.
Do I Have a Soul?
Everyone mourns differently. I did literally ask myself the question “Do I really not have a soul?”
Not one in the religious sense. Still a devout atheist thank you very much. There is no meeting up for the great gang bang in the sky changes of heart. Yet I asked myself the question in earnest one day. “Do I really not have a soul?”
Did I not care for her like i thought? Maybe i don’t really love anyone like I think I do. Maybe I’m broken, really truly broken? Maybe I am a sociopath and not just a confident human being? Marching on life was like a Pantera album“Far Beyond Driven”. No rest, no tempo breaks just choreographed speed and fury.
Afterall i wasn’t despondent. Depressed or hopeless. A few weeks after looked through my journals. I had written about being sad on occasion. A few lines here or there about how i had failed. How M might still be here if i had paid more attention. Noticed something. Made more time, communicated more clearly.
Everyone mourns and moves on in their own way, at their own pace. Life marches on, dreams and goals and endless checklists fuel mine. Sadness creeps in for a moment here and there. Then again in the quiet moments is always has. Hence an over subscribed life.
During a Manson/Zombie concert. In an ironic twist of fate the Siren texted me out of the blue which helped without her knowing it. I set up some time and just had dinner with her. Which was fun for me even if i wasn’t flirty. Something to work on. I’m not flirty with anyone of late.
The moments…alone in a hotel room where i planned to cook for M the first time. So off to mexican with staff I went to Mexican. Unlimited Tacos for the win. It is hard to be sad when good tacos are in the mix.
For the record if you do get a therapist and they suggest you start journaling. Asking them how many years they would like to start with along with offering them an archive of your blog might wig out even the most stoic professional a bit. Or so i’ve heard.
As for me Therapy wasn’t a fit. Its there if something changes. Instead lacing up my wingtips and went back to the comfort of business advisors, exec coaches, accountants, and lawyers. They are my safe space.
Poseur, Fraud, and Self Guilt
Earlier this year I had told her we were done. Nothing changed, not feelings of responsibility for her, not the cadence, nothing changed except for the type of things she asked me to go to. Well kind of.
Instead of sending me links to 4 kink things everyday and saying “You should go to this with me” it was a kink thing every 4 days and 12 other ideas like “here’s a yoga retreat we could do on top of a mountian with hindu gods”. Or one Costa Rica…details. Daily.
It should have been seen as more than wanting attention. Or the running joke on what my travel schedule had become. “Yes i have. ticket ro DC so odds are i’ll end up in Miami.” I dismissed those taunts rathee than seeing them as her way to tell me she needed a human connection.
The Sunday before the end she would say she was envious of my life, my relationships with others (Kids, co workers, etc) in what was our longest phone conversation ever.
To me the answer was easy it was what I focused on and chosen to build. A free spirit i am not.
Along with other travel ideas then came the cycling based requests. “If you ride from PA to DC i am coming with you”.
And then finally the always popular chorus of “you have done nothing to add stamps to my passport take me the moon, Iceland, Peru, London.” The list went on, half in jest and half in seriousness. All of which was fine. And all of which I regret not taking the time to do.
Beyond travel M wanted and asked for things I could not or would not provide (for anyone).
A normal schedule, predictable travel, the phone to ring less, work to be unimportant for more than a few hours. Normal things. But nothing about my life is normal. It doesn’t make it right, but it is what it is.
So I encouraged her to find someone who could offer those things. Rightly or wrongly i am very much my work. Then a father, then everything else.
When the necessity of writing the announcement became my responsibility not being prepared be a mourning partner mixed with a nebulous status felt perilous. Her others partners were wonderful, kind, and supportive as was the blogging community. It was sweet and helped.
A Hard Week in the Bay
I was headed to the Bay area in mid July. there were three reasons to be there. My current job, a future opportunity, and I had agreed to spend some time with M. Of course only two of the three things occurred.
It was the first time i had to discuss her death outside of chosen family and community members. It was one of my business inner circle. He had met her and asked how she was simply expecting she would “happen to be around”.
It was hard, again unprepared. I ended the conversation by showing my two favorite pictures of her; one kinky (by the average persons standards a leg tie) and the other plain vanilla.
Meetings went well. i had booked a day off to sort through life, ride a rental bike, and spend some focused time with her, and figure (work) things out a bit.
Instead I cancled the day off. Worked at a frantic pace for 20 hours straight, piled meetings on top of meetings.
When asked “what’s wrong” at an intense moment during a document review responded with “I’m just sad”.
Rather than addressing the problem at hand. My team said nothing and kept going.
So did I.
In those days there was not a moment’s sleep without pills. it was the first time in forever i needed them.
I slept on the plane home with out chemical help and am back to not needing them much. Tylenol for aches and pains as i get old are another matter.
I began cleaning out my home office the following week. 15 years of notebooks, binders and records. The die had been cast. The change all but certian. It was a matter of choosing between opportunities. As part of that looking at my walls and asked if i were to get hit by a bus would this space tell my story. The answer a resounding NO!
Now its a designers nightmare decorated like a cluttered art gallery with pictures of people, places, concerts, and memories that are important to me.
They are who i love, who I intend to remember fondly. Those not to make the same mistakes with and spend more time in the company of.
No longer caring if others asked about someone whose role in my life that was not obvious.
Chiding the Blonde i needed more pictures of her. That she needs to travel with me more, make time for us.
Maybe it will work, probably it won’t. So I’ll live “my own damn life on my own terms” as i had told her back in June. If nothing else i have learned life is really too short to wait.
The End of an Era the Beginning of a New Adventure
Direct and to the point this will be my last post published here for the foreseeable future. Perhaps ever.
It is a goodbye and thank you for those who read, comment and interact with me.
Raven and Alice have launched their own space and will do amazing things there. I love being part of this community but have to step away.
The day this post comes out is timed with me leaving another world and friends I have been part of for 25 years.
The new opportunity worked out and I signed my contract as one would expect; under odd circumstances. In a hospital ER; minor injury nothing to worry about.
I have begun putting my life in boxes and will be headed to California. Haunting the bay area several weeks a month. And of course wandering around the world.
It is something that will be all consuming and take my complete attention. It is the very thing i began pursuing at 18 as a foolish dream with a half assed statement. Then spent 3 decades working towards. The opportunity of a lifetime and a dream come true. Tinged of course with a little sadness, nothing is ever truly like it seems.
There are no plans for new partners. Just more time for the ones I have left. Casual encounters hold no appeal. Instead you will find me tucked into corners with business associates, old friends, and those loves already in my life.
For now the house in the Midwest will be retained. Longer term i suspect it will become an asset that is rented out but will no longer have any of my things. The Blonde will choose where she bases herself based on the kids movements and (maybe) mine.
I’ll be choosing my new residences. One within a 30 minute bike ride from the office. A yoga studio with in a few minutes stroll from my front door. The mountains a short drive, as is the ocean.
The other place is still to be settled on. Most likely in the South West (with far more favorable tax situations than Ca. Taxation is theft). Maybe Vegas, maybe Phoenix. Hell could be anywhere it doesn’t snow.
If you’d like you can still find me through twitter (fairly quick responses) or Fet (slow as fuck as i never log in unless there is a message).
If you are near where i am heading happy to get know you better. Friends are always welcome to visit. I will be hosting (vanilla) parties again. Life is like the cliche says; “is too short” One never knows what the next moment holds but undoubtedly it will be more fun with a glass of bubbly and good food.
So i’ll leave you with the same words M left me with.
Hey, I love you!