Today I’m going to begin a new series on Sundays called “Spiritual Sunday.” This series is designed to talk about the little things in life that have no explanation, but it needs some sort of explanation…an answer, so to speak, to understanding the things that happen in our life.
The above quote is a translation by Cassandra Clare from her novel, “City of Fallen Angels.” [A young adult fiction book.]
The translation was so beautiful, I thought I’d share it in order to talk about a subject matter that is very difficult to discuss.
I decided to start this series on a very serious note, because over this last year I’ve been discovering other people out there with the same heartache I endured…losing your soulmate, the person you love above all others, to death. Some have lost them through tragic accidents. Some were forced to say goodbye while they watched them waste away in a hospital bed. Then there are people like me that lost them to suicide.
Of the above, I think losing them to suicide is the worst, especially when you know that they made that decision to take their life and you were part of their decision. But I know in the end, that weight you carry after their death is equal to everyone that has lost their one great love to death.
For the first twenty years after Kevin died, I felt like no one had been through this kind of pain before. I hadn’t met a single person that had endured as much grief and agony as I had. No one understood my pain. No one understood why I chose to be alone. People criticized. People made fun. The ones who should have helped you had no words of comfort. They had no idea what going through this kind of grief meant. They had never felt that heart break. They had never felt a part of their soul rip from them in that very second their soulmate’s life expired.
They had no words. No explanation for why I felt this pain. No sympathy of understanding, because they had never endured this kind of heart break before. They think something is wrong with you, because you just can’t get over it. They don’t understand just what happened to you. They don’t understand that your heart was broken.
Last year, I met a young girl that had just lost her soulmate. She did the one thing I couldn’t bring myself to do…go insane.
For the last 20 years, I’ve held it together. I’ve pushed through life trying to create an existence without him. I’ve tried to do the things that would make him proud of me. I tried to be the person he saw in me. I tried to come to grips that in the greater scheme of things his death was supposed to happen. It was supposed to set me on a certain path in life. I thought, maybe, he just wasn’t the one in the end.
I tried to date. But truthfully, I only got involved with people I knew I didn’t want to spend my life with. They were safe. I didn’t want a relationship with them.
I loved, but I refused to even get involved with them. I did not want them to love me in return. I did not even want to let them get that close to me, because what if I did let them get that close and then they were ripped from me again? Would I be able to survive it?
I prayed that God would send someone to help me learn to love again. He only sent those that were not worthy of that kind of love. I oftentimes asked myself if it was me or if these people were just all wrong. I have to say it was both.
The truth is I like being alone. That’s who I am. I hear friends tell me about their dating lives and I recoil thinking…that’s a world I don’t want. It’s too much drama. It’s filled with too much pain going back and forth all in the name of love. Funny, because that’s not how I remembered love.
Before I had the tumor removed from my neck back in 2013, I did a form of confession to my brother. I admitted for the first time in my life that the reason why I never got involved in any relationships, got married or had kids was because I was still in love with Kevin. The reason why I did X, Y and Z in life…it was all because I was broken. I was half empty.
There were days where all I wanted to do was just go insane. Listening to this girl tell me how she did and how she was just recently out of the hospital, I envied her. I wished I could do that…just go insane for one moment. To let my mind break and let it scream out all the pain, but the truth is letting go like that didn’t heal her. She was still as broken as she was before she went crazy. The decisions she makes in life don’t help her, they inhibit her. In a way, it’s like she has lost her will for existence, but at the same time is trying to figure out who she is without him.
I know exactly how that is. It’s something that never goes away. I’ve spent these last 20 years thinking I knew who I was, but hiding the fact that this put together person is actually broken. That night he killed himself my entire existence was broken. The universe doesn’t make a glue that can put you back together again.
These kinds of deaths are not like any other deaths you’ll experience in life. I felt his life expire hundreds of miles away because something in me broke inside in that very moment. I didn’t find out what happened until the morning.
At his grave, I made silent promises. I told him that I would no longer sing, because that’s what I did for him…my biggest fan. I told him I would no longer act, because that’s what we did together. When I turned my back on his grave, I wept for him for the first time.
Those promises at his grave, in essence, was the start of destroying myself. Just three months later, I had become a victim of sexual assault/harassment that went on for months. I was so numb to existence, I didn’t realize what was going on until this guy walked into the room and I became scared. I didn’t know why I was scared, but then I realized what he did to me was wrong. It took two years to get rid of that guy from my life forever.
When I sit in a psychiatrist’s office they want to talk about that incident. I look at them and tell them that I honestly don’t remember any of it, because it doesn’t matter. They feel like that what he did was what caused the post-traumatic stress disorder. They claim that I’ve suppressed what he did to me.
I take in the diagnosis when I leave their office, but they don’t know the whole story. I don’t remember that guy and what he did because he is irrelevant. The PTSD started months before this guy even walked into my life. He just took advantage of someone who didn’t know what was going on outside of her because she was suffering inside…stuck somewhere between death and existence.
I never talked about Kevin to anyone. Not even our friends. Before my grandfather died, he told me that I had the world in the palm of my hand. I was going to be something great, but something happened. Something broke me. He asked me if it was because of ‘that boy.’ At first, I didn’t know who he was talking about. Then I realized he was bringing up a subject I wasn’t ready to talk about 13 years later. I brushed it off and changed the subject.
My grandfather was right. It was because of ‘that boy.’ Leave it to the only member of my family that loved me above all others to understand me better than anyone else. He knew deep down the reason why I never got involved in a relationship was because of ‘that boy.’ He knew there was something greater at stake then just losing ‘that boy.’ It was the exact moment my entire world fell apart.
The girl I met last year was the first person I encountered in 20 years that had endured that same pain as I had gone through. Later, I learned of a celebrity that had also been through something similar to me. He followed the same path after he lost the woman he loved as I did. I’m not talking about the career or life he built outside of himself. I’m talking about the decisions he made when it came to loving again.
It’s something people like us resolve to do when we’ve lost our great loves. We are okay with not loving someone else again. We had that one great love in this lifetime. If that’s the only love that happens in this lifetime, then that great love was enough to last an entire lifetime. It may have been short-lived, but it was enough.
We are happy in knowing that we not only loved greatly, but we were loved greatly in return. How many people out there can say they found that one great love? Even to get just a few seconds of that kind of love, not everyone has experienced that kind of love before.
We should consider ourselves the lucky ones. We loved greatly, and we were loved greatly in return.
Learning to exist after losing our great love, that’s the greatest challenge.
This is a story that has no solution. It’s a story that’s been told over and over again throughout the centuries. The epic tale of Gilgamesh talks about that love and friendship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu. They were the best of friends that loved each other dearly. When Enkidu was killed, Gilgamesh went through that great heartbreak. He tried to find some semblance of his own existence after Enkidu’s death.
He journeyed far and wide to be able to get over Enkidu. He tried to love again, but the love inside of him was not forthcoming. He journeyed to find a magical flower that could bring Enkidu back to life. After losing the flower, he realized bringing Enkidu back would never happen.
It wasn’t until years later that Ea (god) opened the door to death so that Gilgamesh could see Enkidu one last time and speak with him. Even in that moment, Enkidu asked him to stop grieving and to move on. He had grieved his friend for far too long.
But upon waking from the vision, Gilgamesh was still as confused as ever. Was this real? Was this Ea (god) playing a joke on him, or was this a true vision?
It’s interesting that this tale has survived time. For those that still grieve that lost love, the story does not offer any solace beyond the fact that you’re not alone.
I think the worst part of surviving Kevin’s suicide was doing this alone. No one understood the pain I was going through. No one understood the emptiness. No one understood that love that was so great had all of a sudden disappeared from existence.
I will tell you though that there was a lesson in this pain. Even though your great love is gone, that love is not gone. It still exists. You still love them even greater than you did before. In a way, you are learning to love in ways that not just anyone learns in life. You are learning to love them even when they are not here. Just because their heart stopped beating, it doesn’t mean your love stopped pulsing. It continued.
Remember, this is the greatest love. It was enough to last an entire lifetime. You are still alive. That love still lives on. It never expired.
There are times when I think about how I’m still learning every single day to love him greater that my heart swells up. I have to smile because I still have the greatest love that could ever happen to a human being beating inside of me. To learn to love them greater than you did a moment ago, that’s how the love becomes even greater. You’re still learning to love even without them being here. You love the memory of them and how you know deep down that someone loved you that greatly. You must have done something right in this lifetime for God to grant you that kind of love.
I find that these kinds of great loves happen when we are young. It tosses you onto a path you never would have gone down. It’s only when you learn to exist without them that you begin to see that you were designed…fated…for something greater in this lifetime. You got that one great love thing out of the way early on…now it’s time to change the world into a better place. I feel like God does this for all his helpers. He gives us the greatest love, takes it away, and then shows us our true destiny.
Even the Christians and their story of Jesus talks about that same kind of great love. He gave them Jesus. He took him away. Now, he shows them their true destiny.
It’s up to us to do something great with that love and change the world. That is how we exist. We exist to help others because deep down we still carry a great love. We carry that grief, that loss. It is what defines our past, present and future. But great things can come from so great a loss.
We struggle each and every day on that journey in life. Don’t think we ever get over that loss. We are always just one second away from breaking down. But that love is the love that defines us. It makes us stronger. It has created individuals that become incredible inspiration for others. We preach becoming better human beings because in our journey that’s what we’ve learned to become…better than we were before. Why? Because it’s a daily journey for us. It is how we learned to survive.
We know the importance of living every single dream, because we’ve given up a lot of who we were because of loss. We believe in love and ‘the one’ because we’ve already experienced it. We understand that it’s okay to be alone. We’re okay with being alone, because we are not looking for something to fill our cups. We are already full. That love we experienced so long ago created an ocean of love that we are constantly drinking from. It never runs dry, because we already know that this one great love has already surpassed a lifetime. It still goes on even though one lifetime was brought to an end. We know that a love like this is what’s written in the stars. It moves the sun and the other stars in order for it to exist.
My will and my desire to be a certain person was turned by love. That love made me walk down a very different path I did not choose for myself. But I will tell you something, it became the greatest, most fulfilling journey I have ever been on in my life. It never would have happened if he had lived. Yes, I oftentimes wish I could have that life with him, but I know I never would have become the person I was meant to become if he had lived. He made the greatest sacrifice so that I could become the person the universe needed me to become.
For that, I will always love him. I know in my heart why he took his life. He thought I was leaving him forever by going off to college. I was leaving him behind like he didn’t even matter to me. But that wasn’t true. I would have stayed if he had just spoken to me about it. He decided to take his life because he couldn’t live without me. He couldn’t bear to have me leave him behind…
So he left me behind.
I was the stronger one. I learned to live without him. I learned to love him even more without him being here. I learned the importance of chasing after my dreams, because if he still lived, I never would have pursued them. I never would have left. I never would have escaped the prison we were both trying to escape. But in the end, we both escaped that prison. I just chose a different way to escape.
I miss him. I miss him every moment of every day, but I am still confident in that love that I know he would have loved the story of my life, because he’d know I carried him in my heart through every moment of it. The good parts, the bad parts, the scary parts, the amazing parts, the unbelievable parts and the happy parts.
Where that sorrow lies is within. Learning to be happy from the inside takes time. Gilgamesh had to learn how to live in the sea of life and existence. He had to learn to take joy from the people around him who were celebrating life.
I had to learn how to find peace and be happy again through meditation. In a way, this heartbreak involves God. It was through God that I was able to sort out what was going on inside. Like he did in the Gilgamesh tale, he also allowed me to see Kevin one last time.
I was so mad at Kevin when I saw him in my meditation. I yelled and screamed at him for leaving me alone in this existence. He understood my pain and took it all in. Through that anger, he was able to pull out that love from inside of me. He gave me part of my soul that I felt ripped from me that night he had died and he told me to “Learn to love again.”
When I left the meditation center that night, the song “I Love You, Goodbye” by Celine Dion started playing. It was the perfect ending to that last visit. He was leaving me forever, but the three most important words were said: I LOVE YOU. It was said again and again.
Learning to love again has had it’s challenges, because truthfully, I had no idea what he meant by that. Learn to love somebody else? How do I do that? Learn to love? What does that mean?
Over time, I learned it meant to just learn how to love greater than you did before. Whether it’s learning to love that soul even greater than you already did in this lifetime, then that’s what you should do. Learning to love others along this path…it’s not always just about a romantic love. Sometimes it’s just about learning to love, period. Learning to love life, the journey, God, your family, humanity, the world, the universe…it doesn’t always have to be about romantic love. It could just be about learning to just let your heart discover all of the various ways love exists. It’s beyond just romantic love.
If there was someone out there that was amazing enough to fall into the romantic love aspect, I have yet to meet him. I don’t look for that kind of love, because I am resolved that I’ve already had that great love. I don’t believe there is any love that could be greater than that love, so all potential lovers fall short. Gilgamesh never loved anyone like he loved Enkidu. Anyone after Enkidu served their purpose, but it was not enough to last the rest of his lifetime. He could never love them the way they needed to be loved. He had already given all of that love to one person. He’s just cheating everyone afterward that he could love them that greatly. Why? Because Enkidu is on a pedestal. He can never be taken off of that pedestal in Gilgamesh’s heart.
Do I believe that there could be a greater love? I’d like to believe it could exist. In the right time, the right place. Maybe there could be something greater. Maybe two souls that understand what great love means, and to lose it, maybe they could understand what it takes to create a greater love, because they would understand the sorrow, they would understand what it is they need to take a chance…to love like that again. They know what that love feels like. To find someone else that knows what that kind of love is, and to build it again, without fear of having their entire universe shattered…believing that they could take that chance…to heal and to love again in the process together…it could create a greater love.
I’d like to believe that opportunity exists. Only time will tell if Gilgamesh’s tale can have a happy ending. After all, epic tales like Gilgamesh’s tale do not end. It has survived even until today to fall into the hands of someone like me who has been through every single aspect of his story. Perhaps his story has survived time not just because it is repeated in every lifetime, but maybe it has an opportunity of having a different, better and happier ending. Maybe the ending is about stopping the cycle from repeating again and changing its ultimate outcome.
After all, you have to remember the story is not about Enkidu or Gilgamesh and Enkidu. The story is about Gilgamesh and how he survived after losing his great love. His story really doesn’t have an ending. It’s all about Gilgamesh learning how to live without Enkidu. Maybe in a way his story is a guide for those who have similar stories…a guide to not only let us know we are not alone, but that we are also on similar journeys…learning that we have an opportunity to give this story a happy ending.