Thomas died this week...
My initial response was to find Thorr who I knew would be devastated beyond anything I could imagine. Theirs was not the healthiest relationship, and one I’d tried to stand against, but Thorr loved Thomas with an intensity that for the longest time, I could not understand considering that Thomas was absent for most of his childhood. But they were best friends. I found my son, and we held each other and cried shared grief for the man I once called husband and him father.
And when left alone, I was not prepared for the pain I felt. I found myself lost in a sea of memories and agony that I did not know how to handle. I stumbled into Tyson’s arms with my heart sliced wide open. My tears spilled unchecked like a broken dam charged with flooding a city. Tyson grabbed me to him and held me with the protective grip of a father meant to save a drowning child. We stood for what felt like eternity while he kissed my forehead. He did not ask, why do you cry for an ex-husband who brought you so much pain as others have asked. He knew what I realized the moment I got news that Thomas had died, that beyond the difficult marriage and divorce, he was at the core of some of the most important milestones in my life, and was integral in shaping me. He was my first love, to date – the only man I've ever called husband, and me, the only woman he ever called wife. He is the father of my first son, and was a presence for all of my adult years. That he is gone, has shaken the foundation on which my adult life is built – The void is deep and the ache is like nothing I've ever known. Arthur Schopenhauer said, “Mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things.”
It is not the turbulent years that comes to mind now, though I do not deny their existence, it is the good times that I thought I’d long forgotten that takes me back in time to where our story began.
Thomas and I came from two different worlds... He found me on a winding back-road in Jamaica where I was hanging out with friends. My skin is as dark as the Jamaican soil from which I am made. He was a blond hair, blue eyed Chicagoan who was much older than I am. But we were destined to meet. The love - the tears - the heartbreaks happened as it was meant to, so that I may stand here as I am, mother to his son and a survivor because of all that he taught me. I have come to understand that people come into our lives when they were meant to - to teach us lessons that we need to learn - to become the people we are meant to be - and they depart our lives when their job is done.
I remember the day we met... he crashed his bike into a tree staring at me. I reached out my hand, helped him to his feet and we shared our first smile. He said he knew the day he saw me that he was going to marry me because he’d never wanted to marry anyone until that moment. It is his shyness I think about now, the way he would visit me and would sit on my porch and not say a word for the longest time. When I asked him why he was so quiet, he said he didn't have to say anything – everything was already said. It was the days when we were brand new and bursting with the excitement for each other that I could not escape. We kissed and held hands every chance we got and dreamed and planned a life that we were not meant to live. I kept the volumes of honeymoon pictures with our smiling faces, fingers entwined, gazing with adoration into each other’s eyes. I found the good times living in borrowed spaces between the years – a stark cold piece of reality that along with the anger and bitterness that we lived, there was love too, and it was innocent and pure and every morsel of it still lives in me.
Tyson combed the hair from my face and kissed my forehead.
My voice came cracked and muffled against his chest, “He died alone,” I said, another gush of tears soaked his shirt, yet he seemed not to notice. "No one should die alone the way he did,"
“I’m sorry,” he said.
Thorr could not reach Thomas and called to ask me if I’d spoken with him. I had, few days before – still I called his mother to find out when last she’d heard from him. It had been a few days too. A wellness check was called in and his body was discovered. Medical examiner concluded that he died of heart complications. Thomas was 54 years old.
Tyson kissed my forehead again, warm and sweaty from the energy spent crying. “You were there Kitten, even in his final chapter,"
"You have more tears than anyone I know," he said pulling me closer.
I have written about Thomas’ struggle with drug addiction and our tumultuous marriage that ended in divorce. But he was also one of the most gentle souls I’ve ever met. It was this man I met, marry and gave a son. It was this man that Thorr loved beyond the reasons why he may have had not to love him – and it is this man whose life we mourn.
To Thomas, I honor you in life and in death - for the life lessons, the love we shared, the son who will forever bind us. You were loved. You are missed. May you have peace.
“For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?" Khalil Gibran – The Prophet