Love is a Garden, And We Have the Exceptional Privilege of Being the Caretakers and Stewards of It.
To My Love Bonnie,
It was a somber, overcast sky in the early Seattle morning of April 10th, 2020. It was my birthday. I was 32 years old and driving back to my hometown of Chattanooga after two years traveling with my job. Covid had taken its toll on my job security and the lockdown had hindered my ability to travel and absorb new places. So, I decided to head home and see what I could find back in my hometown, now painted with a new brush from my experiences, perspective, and growth. I thought traveling had changed me on a fundamental level, but little did I know how much I was truly on the precipice of the most powerful and transformative experience of my life.
My next adventure was one of love and vulnerability, and her name was Bonnie. We met within a week of me coming back home in late April. I remember it was a tumultuous time, as the death of my grandmother, the rapid blooming of spring, the confusion and instability of my career, and the prospect of new love all swarmed together like a colossal amalgamation of a storm’s turbulence in my mind. Everything happened so fast. The ground beneath my feet was cracking and sinking with every step, but little did I know that all of this shifting was only making way for a solid foundation of love that would soon flourish.
I found the juxtaposition of loss and new love so curious. Life and death are not separate phenomena, they are inextricably linked. The death of my precious grandmother, one of the strongest women I have ever known and such a stark beacon of love, and the meeting of Bonnie, one of the strongest and fiercest and most passionate women I have ever met all happened within the same week. The timing is so curious. These most loving and guiding spirits in my life just missed each other in meeting. Death is a sad, reflective time for family, but this peculiar timing of everything reminded me that the torch of courageous and unwavering love never dies. We are only vessels who get to carry it for a short time before plunging back into the fray, perhaps to do it all over again somewhere else. And so, with meeting Bonnie amidst the turmoil of family death and the Covid pandemic, it was a beacon of hope that the warmth of a flame can emerge and rapidly expand even in the darkest and coldest of worlds.
I have to admit that I wasn’t immediately sold that Bonnie was going to be the love of my life. I had lived completely on my own that last year of my life. I had become self-reliant, even used to and comforted by my own isolation. I was still emotionally shut off from so much of the world and the people in it. A rancid taste was still lingering in my mouth from the heartbreaks and traumas of life’s past. I wasn’t fully ready to commit to anyone and the walls to the castle of my heart were still tall and sturdy as ever, but that all changed.
Throughout the next few weeks, I felt my walls slowly dissolving and eroding away, being carried away by the steady stream of her love. I had never experienced a love like this. The loves of my past had been rooted in fears and insecurities, never being fully developed or actualized. They were fleeting hopes of attachment that were stunted and shriveling and futile. There was a bleeding history of pain there, but as life and death are one in the same, pain and loss and heartbreak are the seeds to joy and happiness and this precious love that I now found in my hands. This love with Bonnie was different. It was liberating and the air around it was light and sweet. There was a spark in the deep amber pools of her eyes that called to me to come out into the light of this life. I eagerly followed after a time, as I was forever shaken and entranced by the summoning of my soul to come forth and dance with another as wondrous and vibrant as her.
I was so awestruck at the initial blossoming of this love, for it seemed so simple and true, but how naïve I was to think that where it was at in its inception was where it would remain. Oh, how this one flower would become a magnificent garden! I had always struggled to make the initial plunge into love and had only experienced it at a surface level before, but oh how these roots run deep. The growth of our love since early 2020 has been one of my life’s greatest joys to watch.
These past two years have been such a burden and a struggle for so many. Bonnie and I have both experienced our share of pain and struggle along with so many others. We have been pummeled with dissatisfaction with our jobs, the disillusionments and realizations of growing older, painful losses, the processing of past traumas, and both of us coming to terms with our mental illnesses and the challenges it brings. Despite the pain of these hardships, they have served to guide and build our love and support for one another in ways that could not have been achieved otherwise. The struggles of life have been lessons for me personally in how to show support to others going through similar circumstances, how to come out of my shell and form connections, how to empathize more fully and deeply, and how to open up and be emotionally vulnerable. I have learned that it is okay to feel all of the things, and to share them with those you love and trust. Crying in a loved one’s arms can be so cathartic and healing I have learned sadly in my 30s, as I have never previously felt I could do that with another.
Knowing that we are each other’s homes and safe spaces gives me hope for everything to come, despite the inevitable sufferings of life. The beams and columns of mutual trust, respect, and generosity we have built for each other now provide a sustainable shelter for our souls. Strong and sturdy, it is capable of providing shade on the hottest of days and a warm refuge on the coldest winter nights. Everything we have been through thus far have prepared us for all of the seasons of this life together.
I know that I have a partner to love and walk alongside me down any and every road, and I know that she has the same in me. For the first time, I can see my own potential and capacity for love. Just as she has inspired me endlessly, I know that I carry that ability within me for her as well. True love is empowering and stimulates growth and healing through one another. I can feel myself growing and moving through it with each passing day, and it acts as my flame in the darkest and coldest of times.
Bonnie, I know that it took some time for us to find each other in this life, but just like I mentioned earlier, timing is everything. I was not ready for your precious gift in the earlier stages of my life. I had to grow in the specific ways my life has caused me to grow in order to be prepared to love and be loved by someone so beautiful and captivating as you! Thank you for the precious gift you give me every day. The events and experiences of my life were stepping stones up the mountainside leading me to you, and the view from the top is breathtaking and eternal. You are the light and love of my life. Forever and ever.
With all my love,
Matt, i saw on FB today where you had your formal wedding today. I also vaguely remembered you had had a private ceremony last year. Best wishes to to you and Bonnie. I then read your entry about how you met, etc. I had in the past enjoyed reading some of your entries when you were travel nursing. Along with your other accomplishments you are certainly a talented writer. As I read this entry I wondered how Bonnie ended up in Chattanooga since she was from N.C. Maybe at some point she will share that story. Reading this I recalled the last days of your grandmother’s life and how I hoped you would make it back before she died. I know you had a very special relationship with her. I do wish you and Bonnie many wonderful years of marriage. Keep writing.