I'm missing the love of my life.
Lori died Dec. 17, stricken as she napped on our bed. A heart attack ("mitral valve prolapse") at age 45. Fit, healthy and beautiful, she took great care of her mind and body and was feeling fine that day. Her kids called 911 when she didn't wake. Her daughter, fearing (and probably knowing) the worst about her mom's condition, called me after the EMTs took Lori to the hospital. I was in St. Paul, MN when she called, heading to the airport in Minneapolis. The first real absence since I'd moved in with Lori and the kids in September was ending, and we were all looking forward to our first Christmas and New Year's together.
I love Lori more than words can express. We dated in college and, on re-connecting last year after a couple of decades out-of-touch, we fell back in love instantly and more intensely than ever. I moved from MN to CT in September to be with her permanently, and we planned to grow old together. She was my best friend, my partner, and the most enlightened person I've ever known. The reality of it all hasn't quite sunk in yet, but I miss her so much it hurts.
Lori's private burial service on Dec. 22 was beautiful. The minister was the former pastor of a church Lori attended for many years here in Suffield CT. The pastor has moved on to another church, and Lori, who considered herself a Buddhist but who was very open in her spirituality, had also moved on. Rev. Brenda drew on her knowledge of Lori's wide beliefs to deliver a talk that Lori would have loved. Her readings touched on mindfulness (which Lori taught in meditation classes) and on the native American sense of Spirit, and included a group recitation of the 23rd Psalm. She also spoke to Lori's children, Abby and Ben, about the spark of life that makes us all unique, and the importance of letting it shine. That was something Lori did herself, and that she made her life's work to enable in others -- including her students, coaching clients and, especially, her beautiful, amazing kids.
A Northern Cheyenne musician, Joseph Fire Crow, whose music Lori heard and loved when he performed at her sister's memorial service in 2005, sang and played the flute at Lori's burial. The music was hauntingly beautiful and (to me) mysterious and mournful, but imbued with a lightness because of the flute's airy upward tone. Lori would have been pleased. Lori was laid to rest at Riverside Cemetery in Farmington, CT, in the same plot where her sister is buried. Lori and Marcia are laughing together out there, and sending their joy back our way. It's a little hard to tune it in right now, though. (Grief is like a vacuum cleaner, messing with the reception.) The signal is coming through in bursts, and I'm going to keep listening.
More later on Lori's public memorial service.