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A Love Story in Fragments

A friend began to send me little poems out of things she heard me say since Erik died. It was a gift to have something created out of the chaos. She must have entered my imagination because today, I woke up and began writing a kind of love story in fragments.

Here are a few pieces:

I drove up to the Mountain

where I met my husband.

His ashes on the seat next to me.

Sentences are too reasonable.

Paragraphs are unfathomably long. One thing leading to another as though the world makes sense.

Sometimes the only thing left are fragments. And all we can do is gather them.

Within days after his death, I knew:

This, too, is part of the love story.

On waking, sometimes I can feel him.

Like a soft scarf wrapped loosely around my neck.

Gently touching my cheeks.

In the end, he didn’t remember his beauty.

He didn’t remember his goodness.

But I remember. I’ll remember for him.

We had a tenderness ritual every night for years and years.

Without fail, we reached for each other, massaged and caressed

So that we would fall asleep in a nest of tenderness.

So our animal bodies would know that we are safe and loved.

The night before he died, we were so tired, we fell asleep at 8:30.

We did not, for the first time in memory, have tenderness.

It was the thing he could still enjoy even in the darkness.

It was a tiny lifeline to pleasure, to goodness.

I wondered if it was what tied him to the planet.

And without that, he just let go.

Do not be careful with the grieving.

Talk slowly but make the dark joke.

Whatever mistakes you make are so small compared to the devastation of their life.

Do not be careful with their body.

Remember: they have lost the one who knew their body so well. The one who was not careful with their body.

The one who reached for them and touched them with the abandon that only a lover knows.

Hold them. Sleep in their bed if they will let you.

Hold them like a four year old. Let them weep.

Massage them. Hold their feet. Run them a bath.

Their body is crying out for the one they love. Do what you can to soothe that body.

Risk to be close to them. They might not even remember later.

But on some level their body will know that they are still loved,

that someone still knows them, that there is a reason to stay.

Erik checked all my boxes.

I wanted to be transformed through love. I wanted to mature through love.

I knew there were things in me that were immature and chaotic and I wanted to grow through relationship.

My list was not everybody's list. There was nothing about money or a stable home.

I might add those some day.

But this time: I got what I wanted.

When I met Erik, he was doing an experiment in radical presence.

He’d been taught to be a hunter, to go after what he wanted.

And then he started to study tantra and became aware of

How his energy could penetrate a space.

He wanted to only penetrate with permission. He wanted to wait to be invited.

And so he pulled in. He held his energy.

Like a warrior at the gates of a temple while the goddess bathes inside.

He stood and waited. And he was sure nothing would happen.

And then I came towards him. Turns out, radical presence is my catnip.

I would wake up in the first weeks, early early. And sit in the dark outside.

I could feel him in the dark. I felt close to him in those dark hours. I would sit and watch for the dawn.

The neighbors were kind. I stood outside in only a short dirty robe, smoking cigarettes.

Walking back and forth in front of the house in the snow in only my slippers. I didn’t feel the cold. And the neighbors would walk their dogs and wave good morning.

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