Losing my partner David in 2007 was to experience pain I had not thought possible. It is in many ways unfathomable to those who have never experienced the loss of a partner. The worst, at least for me, was the feeling of being completely without tether, grounded to nothing and no one. With him, I had experienced love and grounding in every manner possible. In our seven years together we had grown as close as two people were able.
David understood me on a fundamental level. Aware of my contradictions, my obsessions, my deftly hidden secrets no one was allowed to see, he “got” my sometimes tedious need for introspection. Like me, imagination and the navigation of uncharted terrain fascinated him. He would forever be losing his keys or searching for a pen. He lived through his senses, soothingly confident with the the delicate skin of intense relationships; it was with David where I could be me.
No words were ever required.
Going cold turkey on that was akin to being launched into a brick wall at lightning speed. One that you are convinced you will never step away from. But, you do. You just do. As un-sexy as it sounds, time does heal. You move through it. I realize that’s not a particularly edifying answer, especially for a catharsis junky such as myself. But, it’s the truth.
Years pass, memories fade, occasional visceral snaps of it will trigger in a random, unrelated nexus. So you go on, complex, whole and flawed, but never quite the same, keeping your center of gravity low and using momentum to minimize harm, content in the knowledge that you are a person capable of joy, of rage, of passion, who less and less fights battles with the past.
When my world finally returned to the shifting patterns of routine life events, it began to dawn on me that I was genuinely okay with putting the experience and potential of love behind me. Because with David, I had known true love. More than most people ever will, I told myself. You were privileged to have shared it with him, I said.
All of that, a gradual lead up to my inevitable realization that if it didn’t happen again, I would be more than fine. I would be okay. That was not a lie. And so I went on, solidly embracing the comfort of my diminished expectations.
I suppose never say never would be appropriate here.
When I met him this past June, no one was more surprised than I to have those diminished expectations implode completely under tenuous footing. Initially, the fit was awkward, complicated, and not without significant push back from me. Slowly I grew into it, now knowing it as a second skin.
Yesterday morning in the car, while holding his gaze longer than normal I had to laugh at the irony of my grand second chance being with someone who is also named David.
No, one can’t make these things up.
“What?” he asked, his curiosity peaking as my gaze lingered.
Not willing to risk the moment with sloppy, inadequate gush, I remained silent as I reached for his hand. How one attempts to convey such enormity through a squeeze and a scratch, I don’t know. But I tried.
Keeping his eyes on the congested morning commute, he smiled in that lazy way, saying, “Thanks. I love you too.”
Driving in silence for several minutes, the early morning sun warm on our faces, we sat in the comfort and safety of a rare moment; one where no words are required.