There is a man who has graced my life for many moons now.
He became my only friend on the island—my lover, my housemate, and unbeknownst to me at the time, one of my greatest teachers.
He wasn’t my teacher by way of “trying to teach me.” He was simply himself, and through our interactions I grew.
We had a beautifully sweet, kind, and caring love, but we also had enough friction to start a fire.
A couple of weeks ago, with tears and an aching heart, I told him I was tired of trying to reconcile our differences (we both were) and that the only thing I knew to do next, was to leave. I told him I had an offer to spend the summer on the mainland and that I was going to take it.
In his heartbreak, he could’ve thrown fits. He could’ve been furious with me. He could’ve made me the “bad guy.” He could’ve made his needs and desires more important than mine
But because he loved me so fully, he put all that aside and instead he said, “I’m sad that you’re leaving but if that’s what you need to do, then I want to help you.”
He proceeded to buy my daughter and I one-way tickets to Colorado.
And then, this truly miraculous thing happened: all of our conflicts dissolved.
Every single disagreement we’d had in the past became irrelevant. Everything we’d exhausted ourselves fighting over no longer mattered. The differences we’d tried so hard to reconcile, reconciled themselves by way of simply letting them go.
We spent our last week together enjoying decadent meals, relaxing on the beach, dancing, laughing, making love and talking deeply in ways our previously strongly held positions wouldn’t allow for.
He held me with respect and tenderness until the moment he dropped me off at the airport and said goodbye.
I started this piece of writing wanting to share all the things he helped me learn about myself…and maybe I will at some point, because they’re vast and valuable. But I think the lesson that’s most pressing here is the understanding that impending “death” allows us to be present, which is where true love resides.
It allows us to live fully and to see what’s truly important…and also what’s total bullsh*t.
When “the end” is near, moments become intrinsically precious.
Parting ways with this man has shown me that more clearly than anything before.
I wonder how differently we might live our lives if we really understood that everything dies at some point, that the only constant in this universe is change, and that within each change there is a mini-death. In what ways are we resisting life by resisting death?
If we were to interact with everything, everyone, every relationship—with full awareness of the fact that it may soon die—how might we choose differently?
What might we say differently?
How would we show up differently?
What would matter?
And what wouldn’t?
I wonder, what might love actually look like in the space of total surrender and complete presence?
Author: Chandra Nicole Penny
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Image: Courtesy of Author