I feel like a cliche right now, feeling a wave of love that is so powerful I can't contain it. And the reasons are very sad and very beautiful all at once.
I spoke to a dear friend yesterday whose husband has been battling (really too small a world in his case) serious illness (3 kinds of cancer) for more than 15 years. We don't talk often enough, but I had been dreaming about her. She asked for news of my kids, which I was happy to provide. And then she confirmed my hunch, that her dear Stephen had died in August. It was a beautiful death as these things go. He had been more sick than usual for months, but rallied enough to go with the family on vacation. This time they splurged, renting a place overlooking the water. They settled in, walked on the beach, and he died peacefully in his sleep.
Even after years of illness, it is shocking. Despite my intuition that this might have happened, I am shocked, too. But this is a family so filled with love and creativity and positive energy, they had fit more into a too-short marriage and time with the children than many do in a long life. And Stephen didn't die in a hospital with tubes or unconscious for weeks or suffering as he made his exit. He died with dignity, and Love. I am filled with sorrow about his loss, but oddly also with the wave of love that people can create.
My strongest memory of Stephen is the "Stephen Our Hero" story. After attending my mother-in-law's funeral several years ago we were driving home on a Sunday when the fan belt on our car broke. We pulled off the road, into a gas station that did no repairs until Monday morning. Neither did any of the other places we called. Stranded. And then I remembered my nearby friends who I hadn't seen in way too long. Worth a try, we said, and called. Stephen dropped everything and came to our rescue, making sure we were fed, taking my spouse and kids to the train so they could get home for school and work the next day, and taking me to their home until the car could be fixed. He was so kind and sweet and talked us down from "broken fan belt panic." Our Hero! And I had a chance to catch up with the family that night, which was a great blessing.
I still have the broken fan belt, meaning to make it into a piece of art. It is dirty and (obviously) broken, but I feel Stephen's warm heart every time I look at it.
The wave of love continues, because today, March 3, 1010 gay couples who wish to get married in the District of Columbia can do so! My neighbor Andy is one of my heroes in this, since he led the legal fight to resist challenges to the law from groups largely outside DC to stop it going into effect. I am so happy about this both from a human rights perspective and from my sentimental heart, which just loves weddings.
And today I was asked by a couple who stood in line at 4:30 am to get the fifth license issued to perform their marriage. (I am an Interfaith Minister and help couples create the exact wedding they want.) I have known them for years, and know of the love and commitment they share. This just makes me so happy I am grinning from ear to ear.
Today I am riding a wave of love, with rainbows.