My parents and sister, who I greatly love, always exuded warmth and goodwill, as did Minnie. I always felt safe with them.
“What would I ever do without you, darling?” Was often her last word to me at night as we curled up together in bed with our cats at the end, purring happily. It was heaven.
That is what I have lost and what I miss, the tender loving and the physical closeness, long after the passion consumed me. I looked up at the ceiling, allowing thoughts to take me where they will, feeling so much grief that my heart ached. There again will never be that kind of sharing. That’s how I feel. I cannot imagine sharing my bed again. I think of all our tender moments, her arms around me all the time. I let the loss in and I don’t lock it out as I have done before and I weep good tears.
I am weeping partly for me, for me who will never again know that sort of absolute love and security, that fortress against the world that two people who are truly in love and married feel. Not in the legal sense of course, but in every other way. We often talked about getting married, as did William and Joe but couldn’t because it was still illegal. It made us feel strangely out of place, which we despised for feeling that as we so longed to be married like all of our other friends.
Years ago, we gave each other a gold band and wore it on a chain with a love heart. We did feel blessed that we could handle the truth. That we could never let anyone stand in our way of loving one another. Every now and then we experienced prejudice if we were in a conversation with someone and someone would blurt out something negative and disgusting about gay people. We would, of course defend gay people at every opportunity and later in life when it was not illegal to be gay, we let many bigots have it. But, for the most part we were exceptionally careful where and when we showed affection. Many people from all walks of life, especially from the older generation, would argue and say that all couples gay, straight, bi, trans should not show affection in public. I understand these people, at least they are not discriminating against gay people and I know a number of gay people who have the same opinion when it comes to showing affection in public. It is a personal thing. Minnie and I just love to hold hands but always careful where we do it. We know that there will be the minority of people who will make a sarcastic or offensive remark. We think that public displays of affection should be natural.
We knew many gay people who married the opposite sex, just to save face within the community, but they all had secret love affairs on the side with their same sex partners. Some stayed to protect their family or stayed until their children were grown up. We knew someone who actually loved his wife and stayed with her because he couldn’t think of life without her. They didn’t have any children and she let him have affairs and sex with men so that he could be fulfilled and happy and so that they could stay together. That arrangement worked for them, but it wouldn’t work for everybody. At the end of the day, you can’t really change who you are. The heart goes where the heart goes. You must always embrace who you are.
Every day, Rosy, William or my parents rang me or came over to keep me company. My research always kept me busy, marking papers, preparing lectures and reading filled my days and I saw it as a godsend.
After going through the five stages of grief, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, I suppose I was now having to learn to live without my soulmate. I felt I was slowly healing. A weariness seemed to have descended on me since the disaster of losing Minnie. The pain and ache in my heart wasn’t as severe but it was still there. I wondered in a kind of anguish how I was going to manage this new life, what a lot I still had to prove to myself.
Lately, I have been in my room reminiscing about our times together and the dark day when I lost Minnie in the car crash. I felt I never fully got over the loss. However, one day when I woke up, I thought that Minnie would hate seeing me like this and that I should not waste a second. I decided to do something about it. Learn everything I could. Go everywhere I could. Teach and live a full life. I tried very hard to embrace each moment of every day and to rejoice in the love from our family and friends, but at night was what I found the hardest with Minnie not laying beside me.
I had gained one thing after Minnie’s death and that was I learned to look very deeply into people and to value them for what I found.
I have always felt guilty that I have had a second chance at life and Minnie didn’t.
This whole experience has shaped me to the person I am today. I no longer fear death and feel so privileged that I experienced what I experienced.
I also now have a great desire to do anthropological research of people who have seen the light and experienced near death experiences like me, as well as the more unpleasant experiences too. The mystery of life after death intrigues me like it never has before. I have heard many people since say, “It is a person’s response to dying.” But I believe it is something more than that. You can’t discount every person’s personal experience as a response, a dream, too much anaesthetic or a lie.
The amazing thing for me that has come out of my near death experience is that I feel like I have developed psychic abilities, as I am more in tune with people and can often sense what someone is thinking, when someone is going to call or when something is going to happen to someone.
I take nothing for granted. The past can slow us down but sometimes it can teach us too.
I will never forget Minnie’s smile and how she made me feel.