So it’s Spring. A time when the Earth begins to stretch and yawn and think about waking up from a long Winter’s nap. Spring is our yearly reminder of life’s purpose – the perpetual cycle of birth, growth, death and rebirth. It reflects the beginning and the end of the circle of life (sorry if I just planted your earworm for the day).
For me, April is bitter/sweet. The Earth begins to turn green, but.. mud season. The days begin to warm, but.. I hate to say goodbye to the snow. The birds begin singing their songs, and soon the peepers will be peeping… Well, no downside there. I love the peepers. My beloved Twin Flame was born during this month, as were many other friends (I think Aries and Scorpio folks share some of the same fiery qualities, just express them in different ways). But within every joy is of course the seed of sorrow – what is born and grows must eventually die, as all things do. Which brings me to Steve.
I met Steve through an online dating site in 2006, a few months after I finally extricated myself from a toxic relationship with a narcissistic emotional abuser (for many years I fell into relationships with guys who had very similar qualities to my father, despite my desperate attempts to avoid them). Steve and I dated for a few months, but both knew that we weren’t a romantic “love match” (I was still looking for the wrong kind of guy, and Steve was fabulous). I remember our breakup distinctly because he had done something to tick me off and I had a “That’s IT!! I’m done!” moment and said I never wanted to hear from him again. He called the next night and said, “Up for dinner and a movie?” Despite my “What part of ‘breakup’ don’t you understand?” he persisted, and I relented. What followed was a friendship for the ages. We talked on the phone just about every day, did all kinds of crazy stuff together, usually on his frantic short notice (movies, concerts, parties…smelting??), talked about new relationships and cried over breakups together (Actually, I cried, Steve just shrugged and moved on from relationships that weren’t working. But he always let me vent, and was supportive and nurturing. I used to say, “Steve’s like my best girlfriend, except he has a penis”), worried over kids together (Steve was hands-down the best father I have ever met), and supported each other through everything life had to throw at us. We weren’t Twin Flames, but were true Soul Mates.
When Steve met his Forever Love I couldn’t have been happier for him. And when his birthday came around on April 13, 2012, I called him early and said “I know you’ll be spending your birthday with your Love (we had previously always spent our birthdays together), but I just wanted to wish you a great day and see when I can take you out to celebrate.” He told me that his girlfriend was out of town, and I was more than welcome to take him to dinner that night. We went to Ricetta’s, ate Italian food, laughed as he spilled red wine on my white sweater (a common occurrence), talked about his future. Then we walked to our cars, and shared our customary silly-looking hug (Steve was over six feet tall, I am barely five). Then I had an odd feeling, and a deep urge to tell him I loved him. I didn’t say it though, because I thought it would be weird, and, besides, he knows. But it was a very strange, and very strong sense.
The next morning I was taking my youngest to a college visit, and had my first glass fusing class (funny how pivotal moments seem to cluster). Steve called and greeted me with his traditional, cheery “Hi there! Whatcha doin today?” I told him, and asked what he had planned. He said that he would be going paddling. I thought he was going to ask me to join him, but instead he asked if I would be his “landline.” He said he was going alone, and was planning to stay in Scarborough Marsh. He would be back at noon, and said if he didn’t call me by then, I should “start calling people.” I of course agreed, and appreciated that he was letting me know where he would be, “just in case.” What I didn’t realize was that this would be the last time I would hear his voice. Or that the time I spent with him the night before meant that I would be the last person on this Earth to see him alive, hear his sweet laugh, and hug him goodbye.
To shorten the events of one of the longest days of my life – he did not call me at noon, and I began “calling people” not long after that (I spoke with four different first responder and rescue groups for four hours while they searched – all were respectful, sensitive, compassionate and heroic). I slowly went from thinking that he lost track of time, to thinking that he probably dropped his phone in the water, to worrying whether everything was okay, to knowing that he was gone. He had decided to try paddling to an island in Casco Bay, because it was such a beautiful warm day, and the island seemed so close. But the wind picked up on his way back, he was an inexperienced kayaker (his first time on the ocean), he had an inadequate wetsuit, and the water was so very cold. He never made it home. It was my job to call our mutual friends, call his family, his children… his Love. I still have no clear memory of the next day. I walked around in a daze for a week, crushed by guilt and the loss of my Soul Mate. The weeks dragged into months, then a year. I couldn’t function at home or at work. It was palpable – physical – I ached, my brain was a fog, I felt heavy, I was sick and exhausted all the time. The grief was staggering. Over a year later I was still feeling ragged.
Then one day, about a year and a half after his death, something changed. It started when I did a past life regression and (freaky but true) saw the before-we-were-born Soul Mate connection between me and Steve. We talked. Things made sense. And when the regression was over, suddenly – and it was very sudden – things began to change. I changed. Profoundly. I became more patient, I slowed down, I began to see others differently. I stopped worrying about everything, I stopped blaming myself for everything, stopped hating my looks, my personality, my flaws. I began thinking… like Steve. He was a goofball once in a while, but he was always very wise. His trademark shrug and his “it’ll be fine, don’t worry about it” attitude shined the light of optimism and trust in the Universe wherever he went. When I panicked, he soothed. When I got dumped, his response was immediate: “Forget him – you’re beautiful, he’s an asshole, you deserve better, move on.” When I worried, he talked me down. Now he was in my head, my heart and my soul. And so was his Light.
I had a massage less than a week after Steve died, because my body was in knots, and my wonderful intuitive therapist said – “Tracy, he’s doing great – remember, he’s an infinite being now. Before he could spread his love only as far as his physical presence. Now he can be everywhere at once, spreading his joy. And he will.” He had apparently gotten around to being inside of my head and heart, after I went through my hard-knocks learning process and began to see the world as a sweeter place.
Here’s what I have learned through the death of my best friend: He honored me by making me a part of his transition from this world to the next. I am humbled and blessed that I was a part of this process, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, as soul-wrenching as it was at the time. I learned that worrying is a waste of time and energy. I learned that I’m beautiful, and I deserve better (and I found it!). I learned that everyone is worthy of love and compassion, no matter how trying or toxic they are. Steve loved just about everyone, and rarely had a negative thing to say about anyone. I learned to roll with the punches. No matter how hard. I learned patience. Patience. Patience. I’ve learned to let go, especially of relationships with people who aren’t good for my mental and emotional health. And I learned to shrug and trust that everything – everything – happens according to plan for our greatest good and the growth of our souls. I have looked back and, in hindsight, every horrible thing that has happened to me in this life has led me to where I am right now… and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Every tragedy is a blessing, and an opportunity for needed change and rebirth. Every breakup allows for self-reflection, and possibly serves as the impetus for change of a self-defeating personality trait, be it a character flaw that turns other people off or a low self-esteem that draws in abusers and those wishing to take advantage of your “I’m not worth any better” convictions. Every loss of employment is a chance to follow your dreams, perhaps engage in some further education or explore the possibility of a favorable move. In sensible, compassionate, caring countries, horrific mass shootings shine a spotlight on the need for immediate action geared toward prevention or deterrence of future such unthinkable events, and give us the means to protect our future. And the death of a loved one may draw our blessings into sharp focus, and allow the soul of the person who has passed over to become that “infinite being” inside each of us that can be at the side and in the heart of all our loved ones at the same time. Every time I hear his “Hi There!” in my head, I smile. Love you, Buddy. And thanks.