“Blessings are not just for those who kneel, broccoli”. U2
So I clicked on Facebook today and was startled to find out about a break up. I found out in that great, matter of fact, impersonal way that seems to define how we relate to each other in the social media age. I found out because someone updated their status from being “in a relationship” to “single”. I knew it was about a relationship because there is a little cartoony heart icon in the corner, like health points in a video game.
The thing is, this particular status was updated by my cousin Kath.
My cousin Kath and her partner Jill have been together for just about 10 years, but it seems like they’ve been together forever. I mean that in a good way. When you see them together you get a sense that they are meant to be together.
There’s about a ten-year difference between them, but when your cousin is in her late 50s and her partner is in her late 60s it didn’t really seem to matter.
They are very different people, but different is good, right? Kath is the outdoorsy nature lover, and Jill is the indoorsy crossword puzzler. I’m not saying that Kath doesn’t enjoy a good crossword or that Jill doesn’t enjoy the occasional hike, but their “go to” activities are different.
I first met Jill at our wedding. It was the first time Kath introduced her to the wider family, and I was secretly delighted that she chose our wedding for the “unveiling”. I made a point of including Jill by name in thanking the out-of-town guests in my speech as a way to make her feel welcome and a part of the family.
Kath is from a generation where being open about her sexual orientation hasn’t always been easy. It still kind of remains an unspoken part of her. You could say she’s proud but not loud. Growing up, as kids, we were just told that Kath had girlfriends. It was no big deal and I was lucky enough to have parents who lead by example and taught my brother and I to respect diversity. They didn’t call it that, of course, but that’s what it was. Whenever we’d visit Kath on vacation, we’d meet her current girlfriend. Some relationships lasted longer than others, but that goes without saying for everyone, right?
This breakup is particularly jarring because it felt like Kath and Jill were both at a place in their lives where they finally found love, mutual respect and stability and that they were in it for the long haul. In fact, Kath said as much to me on more than one occasion. We would often stay with Jill and Kath when we’d visit them on vacation. They have (had) a great house with a totally separate suite and kitchen in the basement. Jill, unlike Kath, was married and had kids and grandkids before she met Kath. Because of this, they have toys and stuff that make our daughter really feel at home. One time when my wife, daughter came back to their house after a day in the mountains, Jill and Kath were sitting in the living room, sipping tea and playing Scrabble. It was such a lovely and cute scene and I thought, “This is great. I mean, if I can make it to my 60s and be with someone with whom I can play Scrabble and drink tea then life is pretty good.” Who am I kidding? I drink tea and play Scrabble online with loved ones now, and I’m not even 40.
So I don’t have any details at this point. A part of me is hoping this is just one of those “push the wrong button” kind of things that sometimes happens when people use the keyboard. But I’m guessing it’s not.
I sent Kath a quick email, telling her that I saw her status update and that I didn’t know what it all meant but that I loved her and was thinking about her and I was keeping her (and Jill too) in my prayers, and that if she wanted to talk or whatever to me she could.
I guess it goes to show that in life there are no guarantees. Something seems good and it is and it is also fleeting. That sadly seems to be a recurring theme in these pages. At the selfish level, I’ve lost an awesome place to stay when I go west. And DAMN IT, I really liked Jill, too. (I tend to gravitate to the crosswordy types over the hikey types anyway, if you haven’t already guessed). Maybe it’s just a reminder that we need to really enjoy the people we love and not take them for granted because nothing last forever. Maybe we need to not hold onto petty grudges and stupid hang ups and stop spending time with people who belittle us and diminish us. I mean, if Jill and Kath couldn’t make a go of it, what chance do the rest of us fuck-ups have?