If I had moved to North Carolina to my mother’s house two years ago after entering into another stage of my mid-life crisis, I would never have met the true love of my life, who I call Steven on this blog for anonymity purposes. On the one hand, I’d have been forever grateful for that time with Mom, and I would have never have known what I was missing with Steven, and probably I’d have eventually met someone else. There’s no way to know for sure what path my life would have taken, but I can’t imagine anyone being more wonderful than him. At 40 years old and after two divorces, I guess it’s about time I met someone who I shared this kind of love with—and I’m grateful, because I realize some don’t get this lucky at 40 or at any age.
My love for Steven grows stronger as time passes. He has been a real rock during this time of grief over my mother’s passing. He drove all night, all the way to North Carolina from Maryland, to take me to see Mom before we had to remove her from life support after her stroke. Steven’s work required that he attend a leadership training so he had to drive all the way back a few days later, and then he returned for her memorial service, even after I (weakly) suggested he stay home due to the fact that he just had back surgery a month earlier and needed to avoid sitting down (and driving) for long stretches at a time. But he wouldn’t hear of not being there for me, and he never complained once.
One major reason I am so drawn to Steven is that we have similar spiritual beliefs and a strong desire to connect with God and a spiritual community. We both like nature and bike-riding. We have similar taste in music and movies. He often seems to know what I’m thinking. When I have a concern about something, he often arrives at it without my saying anything. Not everything is perfect all the time, and we’ve had our share of hard times, but we share a love that is profound, beautiful, and true.
My mentor told me a long time ago that most people get into relationships with people who are either like their mothers or their fathers, and at the time I thought maybe he was sort of like my dad because they’re both scientists (as if any two scientists are alike), but my oldest sister met him and later said he’s just like Mom. It had never occurred to me, but it’s true. Mom was the kind of person who was in your corner (as is my other sister), and so is Steven. If she suspected someone didn’t have your best interests at heart, she had no time for them. Mom was also the kind of person, who, as Steven’s daughter put it (about him), “you want around if a major disaster strikes.” It’s true. I was with her during some major storms, and she always had supplies and made sure you were safe. She also had little patience for acts of injustice or inequality. That’s why she spent her free time doing volunteer work for her local food pantry, to help people who could not afford to buy food. Steven is the same way, standing up to the speaker at his leadership training to defend a woman in a wheelchair who could not participate in the exercises which required standing and walking. The speaker refused to change his exercise, and so Steven walked out. Mom would’ve done the same thing. Not many people would do that.
When I go to bed at night, these days I think of Mom. I think of the last time I was with her, a few days before she died, when we kissed each other on the cheek, and how smooth her skin was. I think of hugging her. I think of kissing her hand when she lay in the hospital bed, and how warm her hand was. I imagine that she’s with me, and I believe she is with me always.
Prior to Mom’s passing, I would think of being nestled in Steven’s arms when I went to bed at night. When I want to feel comforted or if I need to try to sleep, I just imagine myself enclosed in his embrace.
One of my favorite artists is a band called Hot Chip. Their songs are filled with beauty, poetry, spirituality, love, and joy, which is rare (for me) to find (and enjoy). Sadness, melancholy, longing, heartbrokenness, and loss—these are easier for most to express in a song or poem. But joy and love? Not so much. Maybe it’s because our brains are wired to treat sadness like Velcro and happiness like Teflon, as I’ve heard Tara Brach say, and as our minister said last Sunday. Whatever the case, it’s a rarity. I’ve been listening to this band for a long time, though I’ve never paid much attention to this particular song, until today, when I realized he’s singing, “Don’t I know there is a God? / Now I know there is a God in your heart.” Full lyrics are here. My interpretation of this song is of one questioning his purpose, and perhaps of the passing of a loved one, but life goes on for those of us “people of the earth” who still have more to do.
Their song “Alley Cats” is possibly my favorite Hot Chip song, and also appropriate as it speaks to the death of writer Joe Goddard’s mother (among other things), but this particular song, “Slush,” stood out to me as I was writing this blog entry—mostly because it came on as I was writing and it feels like a message from my mom, or from God, or both, to tell me that I am still with the people of the earth, that I still have more to do.
And here’s “Alley Cats” for good measure.