I first met Donald in March of 2006. We had our first date in October of that year. He died in January of 2010. I knew him not quite four years, we dated for a little over three. He's been gone over a year and a half now, but it seems like yesterday. He had such an enormous impact on so many who knew him.
I've had it in mind for a long time now to put together something using this song. It speaks to me very clearly of Donald and his impact on my life.
I am grateful for the time I had with you and for the world you opened up for me. I'll always miss you, Love.
Donald asked me to marry him last summer. I couldn’t say yes at the time, but I didn’t say no. At the time I had barely met his daughters and hadn’t met any of the rest of his family. We both had things we needed to work on. But I asked if we could work on these things so that it could one day be “yes” and we had begun to do that.
I met Donald soon after I moved to Seattle in March of 2006 when we worked for the same remodeling company. I remember our first real conversation, a coincidental meeting on a ferry on a sunny day in August of 2006. I was in costume headed to a Renaissance Faire. We discovered our common interests in costuming, history, and sharp-edged weapons. When he returned to work on Monday, he told his coworkers, "She's got swords."
I've heard it said that "when the student is ready, the teacher will appear."
Before I met Donald, I had never heard of "polyamory". The lifestyle at first seemed too foreign for me to accept. We went our separate ways for a while and when we started dating again I knew better what to expect, but still the reprogramming of relationship expectations and boundaries was a challenge, to say the least. Donald did not ask me to accept this challenge. He simply made it available.
My personal rewards in regard to polyamory are many. The one that is most striking today is the sense of kind community I feel with Donald's Loves, past and present. We have come together in our shared loss and have been of great comfort for each other.
Donald also introduced me to the Goth community. Again, he simply opened the door to my Goth closet and left it for me to exit in my own way. In this community I have discovered a place where, more than any other group outside of my family, I feel understood, loved and at home.
The most important thing Donald shared with me was his family, and especially his girls. I was honored that he trusted me enough to introduce me to his daughters and to bring me into his family. I was honored to also bring him into mine.
Through my personal relationship with Donald, I learned that I was more loveable than I had ever realized. He saw beauty all around him and through him I learned to see more as well. When I felt I was at my worst, he still saw beauty in me.
His depth of character challenged me to reach deeper into mine. He was not afraid of my honesty, which encouraged me to speak it out loud more often.
Donald was a natural born healer. Reiki was one of several modalities of energy work that he studied. He believed that he was obligated to give freely of his healing ability. He helped to increase my own understanding of Reiki and as a result I know I have more to offer as a healer.
In the arts, Donald's example inspired me to take up my camera again. His encouragement led me to share my art with others.
Donald did not fear any of life's experiences and emotions. He enjoyed watching others look at his own works, happy to see their reactions. Again his example taught me something, both as an artist and as an observer of others' art, to not fear the display of an honest reaction.
Donald's presence created a special space where kindness, personal responsibility and honesty were welcomed and nurtured. But, for all the openness of his heart, he was slow to confide its secrets. Much of who he was will always be a mystery and I think he would want it that way. It’s okay that we don’t know everything.
Donald's world was full of kind and caring people. The experience that we each had with him was unique and I hope a source of celebration for us all.
Donald believed that death was not to be feared, but accepted as part of our souls' journey. The Friday after Donald died, a few of his friends created a small, beautiful shrine in the space where he died. Many of those who gathered that evening went to that place and I could see that it aided them in their grieving. Overnight it rained. In the morning I went out again to the shrine. As I sat before it in the morning silence, I felt the Earth beneath me pulse with life and knew that Donald was a part of it.
Though we may ache at the loss of his physical existence, and though his life ended in great pain, that one moment cannot diminish the blazing light of Loving Kindness that was and is Donald's Presence in this world and in our lives.
Grief is a journey, often perilous and without clear direction, that must be taken. The experience of grieving cannot be ordered or categorized, hurried or controlled, pushed aside or ignored indefinitely. It is inevitable as breathing, as change, as love. It may be postponed, but it will not be denied.
The subject of a "polyamorous" (or "open") marriage has recently come up. My strictly monogamous friends love to ask this question: "What's the point?" and sometimes in a rather snide (denigrating) tone of voice. Meaning, what's the point of getting married if you're going to continue to date other people?
My response: Do you seriously believe the only purpose in getting married is to secure your partner's sexual exclusivity?**
Isn't marriage actually about partnership? Isn't it a commitment to share joys, sorrows, time, space, energy, resources?
The elements of partnership look different for every couple. Just as no two people are alike, no two relationships are alike. They have unique traits, characteristics, personalities of their own. In the formation of any successful partnership, needs will be met, desires will be fulfilled and concessions will be made.
The obvious questions to ask when considering a new partnership: Will my essential needs and desires be met? Will the concessions I have to make be acceptable or too much sacrifice? Will the same be true for my partner(s)?
To those who sneer at polyamory marriages I say this: if the persons entering into the partnership can find their happiness within the framework of their agreement, then who are you to judge the shape that agreement takes?
What's the point of a polyamorous marriage? The same as a monogamous marriage. To commit to sharing your life with someone you love.
PS: You don't have to personally understand it to respect it. How about a little education.
From the Wikipedia article:
**Fidelity and loyalty: Many polyamorists define fidelity as being faithful to the promises and agreements they have made, rather than in terms of per se sexual exclusivity. Having a secret sexual relationship which violated one's negotiated agreements would be seen as lacking fidelity. Polyamorists generally base definitions of commitment on considerations other than sexual exclusivity, e.g. "trust and honesty" or "growing old together".