There are defining moments in one’s life when you learn about yourself,
and you deposit that knowledge in the experience account,
so you can draw on it at some later date.
One night this past December I was sitting here, lost in my grief, reflecting on the life I had known with Laureen. In total, we had been together just shy of 14 years, had lived together for about 11-1/2 years, and been married for 13 months and 1 day. In truth, I had felt as though we were married since the day we were both ordained as ministers of the Universal Brotherhood Movement (UBM for short). The date of our joint ordination was March 8, 2002 and our only witnesses were our good friends Karen and Chase P. Indeed, Karen, herself an ordained minister, had been the one to ordain the both of us together, and her son, Chase, had played flute for us during the ceremony. I used to always say to Laureen that we were married on that day. And it was exactly 12 years to the day, yes, on March 8, 2014, that Laureen passed away. I was not immediately aware that this was the case. It was only a little while later, when I happened to find our ordination certificates, that I discovered that we had been ordained on March 8th, twelve years earlier.
The fact that this happened at exactly the twelve year mark did not surprise me. I have often noted how my life seems to run in twelve year cycles. I have googled this before because it is such a prominent feature of my life. Having just googled it now, I discover something new – a 12-year cycle corresponds to something called the Jupiter cycle in astrology. A brief description is :
. . . the start of each cycle represents the opening out of a whole new learning period, whose archetypal purpose is to expose us to new experience and new learning, and to all kinds of travelling within both inner and outer life.
And this has often been the case in my life but nowhere was it ever more evident, and life-shattering, then when Laureen passed away. Now getting back to what I was starting to say, I was sitting here one December night, probably right around the anniversary of the day in which we found out that Laureen’s cancer had returned and she was now terminal. That would be December 19th. And I was flashing through all of the various memories that I have of our time together – an uncountable amount of memories – and I was thinking about how quickly it had all gone by. Nearly fourteen years together, gone in an instant. Or what now feels like an instant. And I was contemplating the nature of my memories, wishing that I could have somehow frozen time at some of our more glorious moments, of which there were also too many to count.
And that brought me to a pondering on the nature of time. There are moments where time goes way too fast, and other moments where it goes way too slow. And then, when it is all over you are left wondering if it ever happened at all. Time truly is ephemeral, illusive, and sometimes I wonder if the whole concept of time is just a delusion we have created. . . a method of putting some sense of structure around our lives. And at some point during those mental musings I began to understand that time is really not the underlying platform, or stage, upon which our lives unfold. Rather, as I sat there, lost in my memories, I realized that what I was really examining were the moments that made up our life together. Time is a flow, ever moving, never fixed. But the moments. . . those moments that make up our lives, that leave us with a snapshot that we call a memory – it is in those moments that our lives have content, have context, and give us reason to believe that we have somehow mattered.
Obviously I am only rehashing ideas that others with far greater minds than mine have postulated and pontificated upon for ages upon ages. And yet, when you suddenly come to this realization for yourself, independent of any deep philosophical readings on the subject, there is still a sense of discovery attached to the realization that seems to help you to own the concept for yourself.
Going deeper into this discovery I saw, in my mind’s eye, that the life that Laureen and I had lived, that special, magical fourteen year period in which we were together – had consisted of a string of moments – each one hanging in its own singular space, like a path of stepping stones strung endlessly upon a still, unbounded and featureless lake. And I understood that the entirety of our lives consists of these moments and that we are continually about the process of moving from moment to moment. Sure, there are transitional periods when we are between moments – I think that is what time is. It is the faceless thread that ties together the moments of our lives.
Having defined, simply and rather loosely, this idea of our life unfolding in a series of moments, connected by anonymous strands of time, it is easy to find the big moments – those moments that shift the very foundation of our souls. They are the life-defining moments. And there can even be subsets, call them lesser moments if you will, that still have a lasting effect, or leave a lasting impression on our psyche. One of the examples that comes to mind in this regard (being the subset moments) relates to intimacy and more specifically, kissing. And honestly, I do not often write about intimacy, even in my private journals. On some level, it’s just not where my head is at. But as I sat here pondering for some many minutes, or moments, as to what to say next, the best example I could come up with from my own life is kissing. [and even a part of me is going…. Ew!]
Be that as it may, here I am, 56 years old, and in my entire life there are four kisses that simply stand head and shoulders above all the others. The first one of substance I would classify as my “first” kiss except that it really wasn’t. In my pre-teen years I had probably kissed a neighborhood girl or two, but that was more of an experiment to see if cooties were actually transferable or not. I seemed to survive the initial experiments cootie-free so that myth was debunked.
No, that first real kiss came somewhere early in Jr. High. I don’t even know how it came about other than we were in chorus together at school. I’d been struggling with self-esteem issues and a fairly acute introversion / shyness thing and one day we met up, outside of school time, and we were talking (I guess she probably liked me more than I understood at the time) and somehow we ended up kissing. And the difference here from those earlier kissing moments is that I still carry the memory of that distinct moment quite clearly, as well as the emotional content that was around it. It was kind of like a Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer moment when Clarisse tells Rudolph that he’s cute. (Hell, if I don’t tell this story now it may never come out and be recorded for the sake of posterity). Maybe the difference was that I had been attracted to this particular girl but had considered her “above my pay grade” so in that kiss a whole new world of possibility opened up for me – one that I had never really heretofore considered.
And then, jumping ahead, the last of the four kisses belonging to that group of singular moments was the first kiss with Laureen. That particular kiss could really be elevated to one of those “defining moment” moments – the kiss that really changed the course of both of our lives because up until that moment we really weren’t sure where we were heading. I’d say we probably knew by then that something was beginning to be created between us, but when I kissed her that first time, it really changed both our lives. And after having just spent the past hour looking through my old journals, I finally found my recollection of the experience, written only a day or two after we experienced our first kiss –
Back at the park, it was lunchtime. Laureen got a blanket (not her sacred blanket) from her truck and I grabbed my little cooler with my water and my muffin and we went over to the area where we had sat the last time we had a picnic. We picked a spot and spread out the blanket and sat down. She removed her shoes, so I removed mine, leaving my socks on at first, but after a moment I decided to remove my socks too. It felt more comfortable.
I made quick work of my muffin while Laureen slowly ate her salad. When I was done I laid down on my back and looked up at the sky while she continued to eat. I cannot describe the contentment and peace that I felt. I kept looking up at her face, hoping that if looked often enough, I might engrave it in my memory forever. I really wanted to capture the whole moment, or simply freeze it and never let go of it, but of course, that was not possible.
After a time, she finished her lunch and laid down beside me and we talked. Eventually she pointed out an oriole to me and the oriole became curious and began moving closer and closer to us, hopping from branch to branch, until it was practically on top of us. How very curious and odd it was. Then it suddenly darted away, and flew into a deep, quick dive before disappearing. Laureen commented on the roller-coaster like effect that the oriole’s dive had produced in her stomach and then we continued talking.
I kept looking at her face and her lips and her eyes and I was slowly drawn closer towards her. Finally, I was practically on top of her and I placed one of my fingers to her lips to quiet her, and then I kissed her. Our first kiss.
Again, the moment is simply indescribable. Not so much in the anticipation of the moment, but in the tenderness and naturalness of the moment. In the sense of gentleness, Laureen not only has doe eyes, but also doe lips. It was perhaps the most delicate kiss I have ever experienced, well, maybe the second most delicate kiss. Later, as our time was nearly over, we kissed again. Now that kiss, our kiss “good-bye”, as I quipped afterwards….that was truly the most tender, delicate, and passionate kiss I’ve known. Absolutely beautiful!!
Well, after the first kiss we laid back and spoke quietly. I gently touched her face, looking often into her eyes. She was relaxed and content, from what I could see, and didn’t seem to mind my touch. Well, things certainly move in unexpected directions and this was something that I had not seen coming at the outset. Somehow, it had simply happened.
Yes, that first kiss with Laureen was definitely one of the defining moments of my life, and of hers too, and I am so glad that I captured it, as much as I could, in my own words. It was certainly a fond memory and a special moment in both of our lives. And most certainly the most important kiss of my life.
And on that note, although there is so much more I could write here, I shall wrap this up and call it a night.