Monday, February 16, 2009

For my beloved Gabbi

We never held hands. We never shared a timezone, let alone a bed. And yet, we were more connected, more in love than most people will ever understand.

Who was she? Gabbi was an amazing woman. She devoted her life to helping people, too often at great personal cost. She was a scientist, and a mystic. She was a healer of mind and spirit. She loved the outdoors. She loved animals. She was a gifted artist, and loved music. She was a mother who lost her sons in a plane crash, a wife who lost her husband in an automobile accident, a survivor who returned from the brink of death three times in her life.

Who was Gabbi to me? It's a hard relationship to describe in typical terms. We weren't married, though we were as close as any husband and wife in all ways but the physical. Best friend is accurate, though doesn't begin to cover the extent of it. Girlfriend is too flippant a term. Gabbi was, for want of a better description, the reflection of my soul.

We created a world together, in the online environment of Second Life. Gabbi and I, free of our physical limitations, created an island wilderness where we could walk, talk, cuddle atop a mountain, sled, skate, ski, swim, boat, ride a balloon, ride horses, and create. We built houses. We built landscapes. We wrote poetry. We wrote stories. We played music. And we danced. How we loved to dance!

Those who didn't know us in Second Life may have no idea Gabbi was a part of my life. We lived together, partners in all ways, in that world because it was the world where we could do the things that our physical selves wouldn't allow. We lived together there in a dream of our own creation. Where in days past a romance such as our may have played out in letters, ours was manifested online. It was as real as any relationship could be. We were truly and completely in love. Any who saw us there can attest to that. We couldn't have hidden our feelings had we wanted, and we had no desire to hide them.

Last Tuesday, Gabbi lay down for a nap, and never awoke. She slept with a heart full of love, until that heart, weakened by disease that should have stopped it years ago, fell silent.

She knew her time was short. She died in the New England Victorian home she loved, with her sister and her sister's children with her. She left me a heartwarming and heartbreaking farewell letter, professing her love and asking forgiveness for never telling me of her condition.

I've been wondering these past days why we weren't together, physically. I know she would have come to me if she could, but why didn't she draw me to her? Why let me stay away? I think I'm starting to understand that now, and I know she'd want me to explain.

At some level it's because the place we had in Second Life was our heaven, our dream, and had reality stepped in, the dream may have faltered. She didn't want that. In other ways it was to spare me the deeper grief of having her physical absence affect me. She knew she would be leaving me too soon, and did not want me hurt any more than I needed to hurt.

But I think, in the end, it's because the love we shared wasn't a physical attraction. It wasn't based on biology, hormones, the desire or need for sex. Our love was a soul love. It was love in its deepest, purest form. Each day we maintained that love, grew that love absent of any physical attraction, was a testament to it.

That she loved me with all her being I have no doubt. That I gave her all the love she could handle, and then more, I know with certainty. We didn't often talk about how we felt in open terms. I don't think, "I love you," quite covers it. We had our endearments, to be sure, but we showed our love in how we acted toward one another. Every breath we took was for the benefit of the other. Never did we do for self.

A few times since she passed I have asked myself, "Did I deserve her? Did I love her as much as I should have? Did I love her as much as she loved me?" Self-doubt and self-recrimination are natural in time of grief, I suppose. She knew me better that I knew myself, though, and I think she also knew that she may have to move on for me to realize that I did indeed love her completely and showed her that love every second of her days.

We grow up a victim of expectations. Literature and movies show us what love is supposed to be like. Physical attraction masquerades as love too often, and we don't learn the difference until it is too late. Our culture can prevent us from seeing a soul touched love for what it is. It's not love as we expect love to be like. But when we reflect upon it, it's obvious: a simple thing to see.

She was the sun who warmed my mornings. She was the silence who quieted my nights. She was my first thought of the day, and my last. I didn't make her happy because I was supposed to. I didn't make her happy because I wanted to. I did it because it was as automatic as breathing, and as impossible to pause for long. Bathing her in the light of my love was effortless, so much so it was as hard to notice as breathing, until you pause to examine it.

Her departure made me reflect upon our minutes in a way that would have been difficult otherwise. In time, I may have come to fully understand the depths of our love on a conscious level, but that was time she didn't have. So her passing taught me her final lesson: I now know how to recognise a soul touch when I feel it.

This is a lesson she very strongly wanted all to learn. When you touch another soul, the notes you play together are amplified, and the notes where you differ play in perfect harmony. Whereas apart you're each a pleasant sound, together you're a chord of unmistakable beauty. To be that music is to live in bliss. It is to never want. It is to never question if you made the right choice. It's as effortless as taking a breath.

My days are a colder now, and my nights more restless. The light has gone from my sky. But, as the thunder of my grief slowly fades, I begin to feel the warmth she left within. I feel her presence at night, calming me. I have lived in the arms of a perfect love. I breathe.

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