I am 50 years old and I meet the man with whom I would fall deeply in love, a man who "got" me, a word-witty, funny, quirky, Viking-blond, red-bearded, hippy, Maths-loving, MENSA, gentle, caring, tender man. He was the first person in my life to SEE me, see right inside me and love me just as I am, champion me to be myself and affirm qualities that hadn't been recognised. I longed to be with him always, we knew we'd be together forever, we had the best times ever out in the world and simply together at peace in each other's presence. I knew the greatest joy and beauty, love and acceptance when I was with him and he knew them also. Four years later, he took his own life, when his suffering with depression and anxiety became so unbearable, he no longer knew how to reach out for help, could no longer see his own beauty and value.
BAM! That day, my heart broke, my whole life disappeared, my future vanished. The deeply aching pain of grief and loss came to live in my body, I missed him terribly, his affection, his voice, his embrace, his tender presence. I had no-one to grieve with, people in England didn't know him well and his family abroad went out of touch. We had talked on the phone every day and lived together many months of each year. Suddenly I was alone. I alone was responsible for my home and I had to work. Work and collapse - the interpolation of these became my life. Everything hurt my wounded heart. I was in pain that rose and fell, agony.
The stress of living with grief eventually shut my body down and I ceased to be able to play tennis and to be active. I did the minimum I could to keep going, because it took all my energy to do my grief, mourning and sadness.
I learnt from Pema Chodron to "stay with shakiness, with my broken heart, with uncertainty and feeling hopeless, as a spiritual path to true awakening." I learnt from Thich Nhat Hanh to "embrace all my emotions, with great tenderness, because they are part of me; the compost of broken, difficult feelings can be transformed into beautiful flowers." These Buddhist teachings have become part of my daily living.
Slowly, I came back to into life, a completely different life from the one I had been anticipating. I accepted that I was and am alive and began to practise aliveness. The pain I was experiencing opened my heart to other lifelong issues and these I chose to face and work at healing. I saw that life is in every tiny moment. Nature, people's company, walking, music, play, were all there to help me heal, when I could reach them. My tears and my joy live in me together and I am grateful to be alive and able to feel, to be in the world . . .