This image is from 2013. It was taken in Bagan, Myanmar, the day after the cover photo for this blog.
On this morning, I had found out that two friends of mine were dead. They were a remarkable local musical duo. She sang and played keyboards. He played guitar. They were married. She had lupus. It was a given that she would not live a full lifetime, but she died much younger than anyone expected. He was devoted to her, so much so that he killed himself. It was fairly evident that he had planned to do this, not wanting to live without her.
So I climbed on this temple and sat and thought about them, and about love and death. I was about five months into a separation which eventually led to a divorce from my now ex wife and good friend. She was the one who gave me the news, over Skype, I think. I remember her saying something to the effect of “Oh to have a love like that.” I didn’t get it. A love so codependent that if one person dies the other has to die too? Where is the romance in that?
I remember when my grandfather died. He chose to die. My grandmother had died a year or two earlier, and many of his friends were gone as well. He had perpetual health issues. He decided that he was ready to go, and that there was insufficient reason to continue. So he stopped eating and drinking, and 7 days later, he was dead. My grandfather, like me, was an atheist. He knew that the end is the end, period. Although I respected his choice, much more than that of my young friend who blew his brains out when his wife died, I can not imagine making that choice myself. I’m not particularly afraid of death, but I have no desire to die any sooner than I absolutely have to.
“A love like that.” What does that mean? They were my friends, but we weren’t close. I don’t think I ever talked to them about their relationship. In fact, I am certain that I never did. She was the primary musical talent in the duo, able to play anything on her electric keyboard, and sing any type of voice or song. I once saw them, with the help of only a bass player, perform Pink Floyd’s The Wall, in its entirety. They nailed it. She sang every part, down to the crying baby. The two of them had a powerful connection, it is undeniable.
I suppose I’ve had glimpses of a connection like that. I’ve definitely been in love, although every time was different. Still, I’ve never found “a love like that,” and I don’t know that I ever will. I don’t know that most people ever do. I think we all feel that way when we first fall in love, but how many of us feel that way after a year? After 10 years? After a lifetime? Very few if any, I imagine.
At 60 years old, I would be very content to find one friendship that has no strings attached, no judgement, no secrets, just acceptance, love, trust, and the joy of each other’s company. I don’t know if I’ll find it, but I am positive that it won’t involve suicide if one of us dies.