I love how Mike was made. He was a good man. He was solid. Kindhearted. Bold in character, and strong in spirit. He stood with confidence. When he walked in a room the energy changed. Mike commanded attention in a very unassuming way. There was a certain authority in everything he did, yet there was a gentleness to him that you could see in his eyes. He made fast friends everywhere he went. I witnessed again and again as people were drawn to his warmth. He had a smile that would light up a room; and, there was an easy, charismatic way about him that felt genuine and true.
Mike was easy to love. To know him, was to love him.
Mike loved life and the people he shared his life with. He was an easy conversation and many of his animated talks went long into the night. Not only could he hold a table while speaking, Mike was earnestly interested in what others had to say. He would lean in to every conversation he had. I adored this about him. Mike had engaging, heartfelt discussions with the waitress who served him his breakfast during the work week, and his butcher on 40th Avenue knew about all the guests coming to our dinner parties. He regularly made a short story long with the neighbor; and, just the same, he quickly made friends with the guy on the roadside selling farm fresh corn. I'm not sure what Mike said, but he came home and proudly announced, " Honey, we have a corn dealer and he'll deliver straight to the house". Yup, he boldly announced, in a matter of fact way, that we had our very own corn dealer. To Mike this was not out of the ordinary. And, to me, at the time, this was strangely not unexpected because anything was possible when Mike was alive. Our life was crammed full of whimsy and joy. And, trust me, Mike didn't stop at the corn dealer. He effortlessly gathered people every place he went. Another time, while we were camping, Mike took out the trash and after a long while he came back to the trailer and told me that I had to come quick because he "just made new friends for us". That was my Mike. He came by it honestly, and he quite literally found treasure when holding a bag full of garbage.
He could engage anyone, anywhere and I loved watching him do so. With Mike life was exciting and the opportunities were boundless. For a long, long time, after he died, I felt the life I loved so much was over. And, in many ways, it is. But, life itself isn't over for me. There are still opportunities for me - even without Mike. Sure, this is not the life I imagined. And, this is not the life I'd choose. But, it's the one I've got. What can I do but make the best of it. Now, it is my turn to find treasure while holding onto the bag full of garbage that grief has served me.
Once again, I must do as Mike did. I have to find a way to create possibilities out of whatever life hands me. Dang, I sure wish I knew what he said to the corn guy because I'm sure whatever words he strung together could serve me well as I carry on without him...
All lightheartedness aside, I really wish I remembered more about Mike. I wish I listened harder to all the things he said. If I could back up, I'd memorize every word he spoke. But, I do not get another kick at the can. I will never hear him again. There is not another moment to share between us. No matter how much I want him back, there is no negotiating with death. Our life together is over. And, for the rest of my life, Mike will be missing from me. I know that I will always feel his absence in my life. But, somehow, I have to live without him. There isn't another option. This is the hand I've been dealt. And, Mike wants me to play the hell out of the cards I've been given.
While I have been rebuilding my confidence, I've been holding my cards close to my chest. And, now, I'm about ready to play my hand. And, I am telling you when I do lay my cards down I am going all in. I'm no longer afraid to bet on life and let it ride. It goes without saying that I am still somewhat unsure about life without Mike, but I am sensing that my options are only limited by me. In truth, I can do anything I want and I may as well start because Mike is not coming back. I have to do life without him whether I like it or not.
I still love him with everything I am; and, I imagine I always will. As is often the case, when you are in love with someone, the lines around your individual identities become blurred. As you fall deeper in love, you begin to feel like you are one being. However, since he died I've been forced to evaluate my sense of identity. And, recently, I realized for the first time, that Mike is actually separate from me and he always has been.
Even though our Souls are intimately entwined and it still feels like we are one,
I now understand the obvious - we were two separate people.
I am not him. And, he is not me.
Mike was forced to fold his hand,
And, I am left to play my cards alone.
Mike died; but, I am very much alive.
Saying this aloud.
And, acknowledging that we are individual Souls
has helped me put some necessary distance between
my old life and my new life.
It is a fact that we shared part of our lives together; but, even as we walked side-by-side his eyes saw the world separate from mine. While alive, he had his own individual experiences and I had mine. So, him being apart from me physically, isn't something that is completely foreign to me. I have loved him in separation before. In fact, Mike has always been distinct from me, despite our deep love for one another. It has taken me nearly 18 months to fully grasp this concept. Maybe initially it was too difficult to separate myself from Mike because the trauma of being physically separated by death was so overwhelming that I was unwilling to separate our beings too. I clung to our oneness because uncoupling or whatever you want to call it is gutting. To lessen your attachment to your beloved is like trying to perform an amputation on your own limb. And, I am not sure it is necessary. We can grieve the people we love and miss them while we continue to live. We can and should maintain a strong attachment to our person who has gone on their own way. Moving forward, I have no plans to detach myself from Mike. But, in order to have peace and regain a sense of myself I had to first recognize that Mike and I are separate human beings who have our own life paths. Our lives intersected for a short while, but I can not stop living because he did. This was not the intention of our meeting. Our Souls met at one point in time for a purpose; and, I trust that we will meet again when it is time to do so. And, until then I live for both of us now.