Saying good bye …

My generation has grown up with complicated family relationships. Divorce as the new normal. Cautious steps along the way of gender as a spectrum …

But none of this prepared me for confronting the news this week, via Facebook no less, that my partner of 13 years, admittedly the same number of years past, had died.

I was caught off guard. No one tells you in this day and age of sequential relationships you are going to confront your former partner’s passing.

For me, it was bittersweet. I knew he’d been in poor health the last year. A second heart attack, though a shock, was not really a surprise.

But the layers beneath this were …

Together, we held this moment in time. A decade or so, where we were that couple to our friends. They came to our parties. Oh, the food. We travelled. We worked together. We dined out.

We lived that trajectory. Where design met digital technology. When ‘new media’ was a thing. He was the systems guy. I always cared about the people in the system. Our nerd weekends were figuring out how to bend HTML to our will.

What no one tells you is that I knew when that stopped being true. And though it felt awful to acknowledge that transition in the moment, today I’m long past angry about that.

In part, because it stopped being true in favour of a relationship that lasted for the rest of his life. Love found? Love acknowledged? How could I be bitter about that?

On my part, it stopped being true because I was ready to do things we hadn’t negotiated as part of our pact. He said he knew he was holding me back. I was too young then to know he was right. He was.

And so we parted ways.

Where does that leave me? Reconnecting with friends from grad school days. Enjoying the outreach from agency friends who knew us then. Acknowledging that our story was only one path on the road to what might have been, and we didn’t choose that road. Surprised, six days later, that this is the first ‘good day’ where I haven’t found myself in tears. Yet.

Still even with a heavy heart, tipping my hat to the life they built together. We lived in the world of possible futures. They built a life of daily realities.

I miss him more than I thought I might.

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