Grief is the undercurrent telling me, “You’ll never be that happy again.”
The b*tch could be right. She has been about a few things I didn’t want to believe.
The thing is, I never knew I’d be as happy as I was with Kevin (my beloved who died in 2016) until it came upon me.
It’s funny how one can will love, pray it in, and almost deny its presence if it doesn’t look the way we imagined.
Or worse, we visualize our ideal, and then hold onto something or someone who appears to fit our list (ignoring inconvenient realities). We invite them in, call them ours, and even take their name because we’re certain this is the love for us.
We believe commitment can contain love’s glory and maintain it forever.
Nope. We learn. We learn to let go of that which we lose, even what we once loved and cherished.
I earned my education from the School of Divorce and the University of Grief. As an educated person, I came to think critically.
Kevin came along and said, “You’ve never been loved by a Southern man” and, “I’m not those other guys.” He wasn’t.
His words collided congruent with his actions: “I’m all in.” I met him in that brave space and knew every heartbreak before was worth being fully known and loved for who I am.
Even beyond death, Kevin communicated, “I’m here, Icey,” (his nickname for me), “I’m here.” He was, but he wasn’t. Not physically.
Simultaneously blessed and broken: How does one prepare for that? We can’t.
Kevin loves me from the other side and that’s another unexpected delight.
Because he broke the barrier of that which even open-minded me believed, I came to hope he could come back, be a walk-in through another man’s body, like in the book A Life by Request, which I read after his death.
While alive, Kevin once said, “I could be a Black man.” I told him he had no idea what Black people endure (as if I did). Kevin said, “You’re right, Icey, but I could be a Black man.”
Could he? Would he—come back like that?
What a ludicrous idea, but I clung to hope the way a child who’s seen Santa at several stores and feels reality in the periphery still clings to the magic of Christmas.
Sometimes we must grow up, face facts, and let go.
During the critical analysis of reality, Sissy the Cynic likes to sneak in delivering her version of truth, like Grief’s friend, or mine.
She says, “You’ll never be that happy again.” Her tone is the same as when early on she told me Kevin wasn’t trustworthy (because no men are) and he would only break my heart. Even now Sissy insists she was right, despite the sacred love I experienced with Kevin.
“Yeah,” she says, “Then, he died. How’d that work for you?”
Not very damn well. But, I’m about to tell that b*tch to step off like I did when she tried to F with my relationship with Kevin and convince me to break up with him to avoid potential pain. His reaction was “WTF? Where’s this coming from?”
Sissy is a bad influence. She likes to twist the truth.
Maybe I’ll never be as happy as I was with Kevin. But, I didn’t know I’d be that delighted when I turned the corner into a relationship with him.
Years prior, I couldn’t know how confident and free I’d feel after leaving my second husband, after years of hemming and hawing because what was once bright and shiny had become dull and untenable. Yet, bliss awaited me.
These days, I remind myself how happy I was before Kevin and I became Fire & Ice. Not in relationship to a man, but in alignment with myself.
We don’t know what the future holds.
Kevin and the crazy, sexy, cool love we shared proved the kind of relationship we each sought is not only possible but can change one’s life in the way good nutrition can improve every cell in the body.
After death, he still reminds me, “Don’t settle.”
It’s as clear, simple, and anti-Sissy as a day long ago on Big Daddy’s boat on Lake St. Louis, when bikini-clad Alice (me) announced (with Sissy whispering in my ear): “Relationships are all about compromise.”
“No,” Kevin said, “they’re not.” I’d later learn with him I never had to compromise my voice, my values, or my truth. Neither did he.
In May 2014, we were just friends. I neared 50, with two divorces and two recent boyfriends in my wake.
That day on the lake, Grace blew like the wind in my hair. I drank her like the ice-cold Michelob Ultra in my hand. I let Grace caress me—ever so slightly—the way Kevin did, almost accidentally, when he reached for the cooler.
Sissy slithered away, but she’s stayed in the background like the wait staff at a party. She likes to whisper not-so-sweet nothings.
This is what I know: I was that happy and therefore, I have within me that capacity.
Kevin and I connected and transformed a double-decade friendship into legendary love, born from individual prayers and desires, combined with divine timing and help from his mother on the other side.
We had within us the capacity to be that happy together. Still, we had to decide to dive in and take the risk. Sissy be damned.