Tonight, I witnessed the union of two human beings and three souls. One soul I had to let go.
This journey has been a long one...
All my life, whenever I thought of my Uncle Ronnie thoughts of my Aunt Jerri were never far behind. They were fire and air, made to augment each other, made to be faster. Stronger. Luminous.
When Aunt Jerri committed suicide by jumping off the Manhattan Beach Pier in January 2002, I never thought my uncle would find another love. Through the tragedy we were there to support him the way a family should.
I remember walking the beach before her body washed ashore, praying to God (and I don't believe wholly in one God) that maybe my aunt had become delirious and joined with some homeless group along the beach. I never
thought she'd actually take her life, so when her body washed ashore two days later I was devastated.
My Aunt Jerri, the funniest and one of the most talented women I'd ever known, decided that this world was too cold to hold.
The last time I could have seen her was on Christmas Day 2001. I was tired from all the festivities of Christmas morning and I decided to take an afternoon nap, thinking I would see her again.
I was wrong. No one knows why she committed suicide the following month--her note was incomprehensible.
When I was suicidal for several years before her death and hospitalized in 2000, she and my Aunt Karen asked me, "How could you have done that? How could you think to take your life?"
I never gave them an answer. Just stared into oblivion because anyone who has come close to death knows there are no words to describe that vista, that sprawling nirvana that invites you to leap in and swim. Drowning is a velvety cloak in which you can pretend the real world begins. Life after death. Heaven.
When my Aunt Jerri took her life, it impacted our entire family. When Kathleen came into my uncle's life after my aunt's drowning, I thought their union was merely a friendship. (Kathleen and my Aunt Jerri were college roommates at Pomona College.)
My Uncle Ronnie and Kathleen leaned on one another during their grieving. Soon, love blossomed...
At first, I wasn't keen on their relations. Not only was she white
, she was moving too close too soon!
Don't get me wrong--I'm not against interracial marriage but I admired my aunt so
much that any
woman--black or white--would have been inadequate for my uncle.
Today, I learned that love knows no bounds.
It took some time to believe in the power of love. I didn't start today's wedding with the happiest heart. Last night, I dreamed that my dad, the oldest of the family, toasted my Uncle Ronnie at the wedding and my deceased Aunt Jerri's ghost stood in the corner of the room looking solemn. In my dream, I was the only person who could see my Aunt Jerri.
I wasn't quite sure what to make of this dream (I don't shrug off dreams easily) so I was moody all morning and afternoon. When we arrived at the chapel this evening, my doubts were swept away with the ocean waves across from the chapel. (It helped that stinglikeabee
and I hiked at Abalone Cove 2 days before the nuptials.)
I cried during my Uncle Ronnie and (new) Aunt Kathleen's vows. This is her first marriage.
THIS IS HER FIRST MARRIAGE AND SHE'S IN HER FIFTIES!!!!
For quite some time now, since my engagement ended several years ago, I never thought I'd find another love. I still haven't found anyone who measures up to Danny
. But Danny has moved on; he's married and is expecting his first child later this year (ironically, we spoke tonight after the wedding).
All this evening, I couldn't help thinking about my uncle and deceased aunt, couldn't help thinking about first loves.
It takes a strong heart to love--it takes an even stronger heart to love again
The cement walls closing in on a broken heart weigh more than the muscles in our arms; however, my uncle was stronger than that brick wall. He managed to keep an open heart and allowed Kathleen to enter his life.
Tonight, his strength and her strength combined like air and water; they complimented one another, made each other better. Stronger. Powerful.
Together, the joining of their souls made a new life. Breathable.
There are times when I wonder if I have that kind of strength to allow love to enter my life. Again.
I've loved only one person--Danny Grissett. I'm still learning to let that love go because he's moved on with his life.
Sometimes, I wonder who could love someone like me besides Danny?!
Sometimes I wonder if it will take as long as my (new) Aunt Kathleen to find love--more than thirty years.
My uncle is very lucky. Some people find only one soul mate in a lifetime. He found his first love, lost her and found the next love of his life. If only I could be so lucky...
Yes, it takes a strong heart to believe in love.
It takes an even stronger heart to hold onto that love and never let it go.
I pray for strength and yet I believe in no God. My strength comes from the goddesses of my life--Octavia Butler and Tori Amos, so I will leave you with words from both:
Butler: ...you're really on your own. You're alone, and there's no one to help you.
Amos: ...you have to crawl into your wounds to discover where your fears are. Once the bleeding starts, the cleansing can begin.
It is with great pleasure and pain that I open my heart to my new Aunt Kathleen and to the hope that I, too, can find the second love of my life like my Uncle Ronnie.