I’ve had the last two days off. My work cycle fits perfectly into my life. 3 days on and 2 days off, sometimes 3. It gives me time to do the things I love, like write, blog, read, chill out, meditate and even exercise lol. August is a hard month for me though, and right now the time off is wreaking havoc with my emotions and I feel compelled to write about specific things. Like my August triggers. Yup, that’s a thing!
August Trigger # 1: August 7 – Baby Daddy’s Death, Brain Tumor
August Trigger # 2 : August 9 – Coming Out Anniversary, Taste of The Danforth, TO
August Trigger # 3 : August 10 – Favorite Niece’s B’day, Estranged Now 😦
August Trigger # 4 – August 11 – Blood Brother B’day, Lots of Emotions Around This One.
August Trigger # 5 – August 24 – Married The Wrong Man
So, I’m gonna talk about these triggers one at time. And these posts are definitely just for me to explore my feelings around them. They will undoubtedly be comprised in memoir when I get around to writing them. But for now, they are stirring deep and need to come out.
I think the write will be cathartic.
And maybe identifiable. And helpful. For some.
Trigger # 1: August 9, 1992
It took me nearly 3 years to stop crying when my daughter’s father, Khalid, died. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor long before Cancer, sadly, became an everyday thing. He was 19 at the time of diagnosis. I met him when he was 24 and I was 20. We had this crazy-ass instant connection, unlike anything I had ever felt before. But our time was not meant to happen then. He had stuff. And he had to sort through that stuff. Alone. I was heartbroken because I knew that he was The One.
He stayed on the peripheral of my life.
Our friends shared a circle.
But we didn’t see each other again for 5 years.
Life went on. As it does. And 3 years later I got married to Trigger # 5 –The Wrong Man.
That full story later.
Albert was a black knight in shining armor who protected me from the bad things still circling my life. He was a sweet soul. A boxer. But he was not The One. And it was only after all the pomp and pageantry, and nightmare of planning the wedding with his very involved Christian family, and actually getting married, that I literally woke up the next day and thought, What the fuck did I just do?
I hung in for a year. He treated me like a queen. He was a good man. A provider. The strong silent type. I felt so guilty that I couldn’t fall in love with him, but we had nothing in common. The sex was good. He was built for it. But otherwise, he couldn’t provide me with what I needed in a relationship. A month after our 1st anniversary, I decided I needed to get out before I did something awful like having an affair. Trust me, I’m not that girl, but I needed more stimulation and intellectual involvement, and I didn’t know how to untangle myself from this got-married-for-all-the-wrong-reasons marriage.
In tears and filled with desperation, I was talking to my best friend at the time and the angel who had prevented my suicide, about my life and how much I wanted out of the marriage. She told me that Khalid, my Khalid, had a place of his own now and had been asking her about me. That he had always asked her about me. She offered to talk to him about offering me a temporary place to stay.
He said yes.
I moved in.
Divorce was imminent.
I will never forget how on the first night of me being in his apartment, standing on his balcony watching the busy street below after sundown, Khalid looked me dead in the eyes with a confident smile and told me he loved me. That he had always been in love with me. And he hoped that wouldn’t scare me away now that I had moved in.
I think I actually blushed.
And then I did the only thing I could think of which was to tell him I needed a little time. I felt awful about leaving Albert, and I knew how hurt he was. I wasn’t ready to bask in the possibility of a future with Khalid even though the moment I laid eyes on him again, I still felt that crazy-ass connection.
He understood and never once pressured me.
And stepped aside so I could breathe.
I went a little crazy after that with my new found freedom. Over the past 5 years I had extracted myself from an incredibly violent and abusive relationship. Dealt with the aftermath of testifying in court and then perjuring myself out of fear. Ran into the arms of a man whose innocence was a balm to my broken spirit, and then had do deal with his controlling, religious family. And then, to top it all off, realized that I had made the worst mistake of my life seconds into our honeymoon.
Yeah…I definitely needed to explore what having fun was all about!
I slept repeatedly with two men who I found attractive, just because they were fun and didn’t want anything from me. Went out with friends and drank and partied till all hours on the weekends. Came back to Khalid’s. Stoned. Crying. Broken. Telling him things I had never shared with anyone. Ever.
And the whole time he listened.
And loved me without complaint or questioning.
A few months in, the thrill of my freedom began to wear thin. Fun wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Sex was empty and meaningless. And the party was a bore. I started to move out of the haze of escapism and back into reality.
And that was when I really saw Khalid.
I came home early one Saturday night, feeling low and despondent and starting to question my life again. The apartment was dark at first, but as I came down the hallway, I noticed the soft glow of candlelight and heard the music. I walked into the living room and saw him sitting on the newly laid dusty rose carpeting smoking a joint. He had no furniture except a comfy chair and a queen-sized mattress on the floor which he slept on, having given his only bedroom up to me.
But somehow the place never felt empty.
The candles and music weren’t new. He didn’t own a TV and we never missed not having one. We would talk for hours and hours in candlelight, smoking, Or not. We were each other’s entertainment, and he had quickly become my best friend.
He patted the carpet beside him and I took off my shoes, dropped my purse, and joined him. He passed me the joint and inhaled deeply. It was good shit and I was stoned in seconds. The music lulled me. Slow mellow tunes that enticed and beckoned a kind of intimacy. He was the first person to truly introduce me to the power of music on a sexual level and I have been a slave to it ever since. 😉
We started talking about his day. My night. And I started to cry. The kind of crying that comes from brokenness. He understood and just held me until I had cried it all out. I wasn’t embarrassed or ashamed. He never made me feel bad about myself. When I got up to wash my face, I decided to shower. I hadn’t been with anyone that night, but I wanted to be clean. Really clean. When I came back into the living room, he was exactly where I had left him. He looked up at me, smiling slowly as his eyes deliberately traced the curves of my body beneath my t-shirt.
I felt naked and exposed.
But incredibly safe.
And so fucking, deliciously sexy.
I had almost forgotten what that felt like.
The very air around us changed. Charged with sexual tension.
He stood up. Walked to me. Eyes never leaving mine. Cupped my face. And kissed me. Deeply.
And that’s how our love story began.
He was a masterful lover. And the perfect match for me.
Assertive. Dominant. Punishing. Yet. Seductive. Sensual. Playful.
He was like sex on a lollipop, with a side of kisses that made a mockery of all the romances I had ever read. And back then, I was addicted to cheesy Harlequins. Don’t judge! For a long time, they were my only guideline to what a relationship between a man a woman looked like. And yes, I also believed in fairytales and happily ever after!
Still kinda do. 😉
But with Khalid, it was more than sex. He was the most patient, loving and beautiful soul I have ever met. He set the bar pretty fucking high. When we first met I was a mess. I had barely escaped with my life from a violent and abusive relationship that had brutally forced me into prostitution. It was only for a short time but I was damaged in more ways then I can tell you and had seriously tried to end my own life to escape the torture. I didn’t like or trust most men. My experiences with them had shown me uglinesses I had forgotten. And some I never knew existed it.
But Khalid was kind, and gentle and probably put up with more of my crazy than a person should ever be expected to do.
But he did it because he loved me.
And in return, I loved him so much more.
I was 5 months pregnant when his tumor was finally operated on. The seizures had become unbearable, the medication for them barely working. It wasn’t a planned pregnancy, but it wasn’t unplanned either. 😉 We took no precautions. We just loved. In fact, on that very day, he told me we had conceived and that she would be a girl.
He was right.
I have often wondered if he had some sort of knowing about her arrival before she came. Something humanly impossible. A before dying kind of knowing.
When the doctors came out of surgery they told me that there was nothing more they could do. That his tumor was like a drop of ink in a bucket of water, and there was no way they could possibly remove it.
They gave him back to me with his brain and scalp freshly closed and newly scarred.
And I brought him home to die.
It was truly the hardest day of my life.
As the ink spread and began to take the sparkle from his eyes and the hope from his dreams, I felt him slipping away and it was the worst emotional pain I have ever felt. I was so in love with him. I cursed a God who would give me such a beautiful love and then take it away so cruelly. I had waited my whole life for a love like ours. And in 9 short years, from meeting to death, it was all gone.
I am grateful that we had our time. That I got to love him. That he witnessed his daughters birth. That he was able to spend time with her and love her as Daddy’s little girl. He was an amazing father to her and I wish that they had been given the chance to know each other. I believe her life would have been richer for having him in it. ❤
He slipped into a coma in August of 1992 and never came back. When his family called me and said the nurses didn’t think he would last through the night I went back to the hospital praying he wouldn’t die before I got there.
He waited for me.
So that I could be there with his daughter when he took his last breath. It’s a sound I will never forget. I screamed so loud when I realized the truth. That he was gone. That I would never see him smile or laugh again. Or feel him kiss me. Touch me. Love me. I threw myself on his body and sobbed like I had never sobbed before. And then I took my 2-year-old and ran from the hospital room as fast as I could, blinded by tears and being ripped apart on the inside from a hurting I never imagined possible.
And then the strangest thing happened.
He came back to comfort me.
Months before Khalid died, he had converted to Islam. He became a Muslim. Pressure from a strong-willed family. He was of Arabic descent on his father’s side, and many of the male members of his family had converted. I didn’t think much of it at the time. I’ve always been about doing whatever makes you happy. And this seemed to make him happy. In a show of support, I even allowed our daughter to carry a Muslim name – something I have since regretted only because of the times we live in. 😦
But what I didn’t realize was that I would not be able to see his body after he died.
Or be part of the funeral proceedings.
Or be allowed in the same room where prayers were being said.
Because I was a woman.
Yeah. I kinda lost my shit over that one on the day of.
Traditionally, women do not attend Islam funerals. However, modern communities do allow women at the funeral prayer service. Needless to say, Khalid’s funeral was held by some very staunch male traditionalists.
I respect tradition. I really do.
But as a Western woman unversed in Islamic ways, I had no idea this would happen.
And I didn’t know where to put all of my feelings around it on that day.
Luckily, Khalid’s younger brother sympathized and snuck me into the room where Khalid’s body had been prepared, and wrapped, and I was able to see him one last time.
And smell a smell that will now forever be associated with him.
Islamic funerals follow fairly specific rites. The body is buried as soon as possible. And because of this, there is no viewing, or wake, or visitation. The hands are placed as if in prayer, and the body is wrapped in white cotton, then taken to a mosque. There is rarely ever an open casket. As a part of these specific rites, there is a simple ritual involving bathing. During the last wash of the body, camphor is added to the water.
Camphor. As in Mothballs.
Yeah, I don’t think he really thought that one through lol. I can joke now, but at the time I was completely devastated. And pissed off!
Until Khalid came to visit me.
After the saddest 8 months, I moved into a new house. On moving day I fell into an exhausted sleep that night on the pull out couch with my daughter. My head had barely hit the pillow when I swear I heard someone whisper my name.
And I smelled the scent of camphor.
I was too tired to stay awake and it wasn’t until the following morning that I made any sense of it. I shrugged it off as my imagination and due to tiredness and continued unpacking. Nothing more came of it and I didn’t smell camphor again until a few days later when I started attending a writing class one night a week. I was still deeply depressed, crying pretty much every night and hadn’t been able to shake the horrible nightmares.
I missed Khalid like I can’t even tell you.
And it was on one of these nights while I was walking to the bus stop to attend a class that the smell of camphor literally assaulted my senses. It was strong and pungent and instantly recognizable. I stopped dead in my tracks and closed my eyes.
I knew he was with me. I just knew.
I felt it in every fiber of my being. And it was not wishful thinking.
I was almost giddy with joy. I had no fear. And I had no doubt.
I started talking to him and asking why he was coming to me in my dreams the way he was. Told him that it was terrifying me. And you what? That night I had no dreams. Or the next. And for months after, whenever I would leave the house, I would smell the camphor almost immediately and begin a silent conversation with him.
I know it sounds crazy, but it happened. I swear it. And it helped. A lot.
I still cried. I still hurt. I still missed him madly. But I knew he was with me the only way he could be. And I was so extremely grateful.
And then one day, almost a year later, I didn’t smell the camphor anymore.
It wasn’t until then that I realized how much my emotional well-being relied on his visitations. That day I searched for his scent and didn’t detect it was a horrible, beyond sad day. It was like losing him all over again. And for weeks I was inconsolable.
Eventually, time passed, and I came to be so grateful for all of it.
And I realized how lucky I was to have been given such a loving and powerfully transformative gift. Because of him, I now know there is something more after our mortal death and that the human experience is just one plane of existence. There is such beauty in the process of Life and so much we may never fully comprehend until we are Spirit again.
And I think that’s how it’s supposed to be.
My favorite Shakespeare quote:
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. your philosophy ] i.e., philosophy (or learning) in general. The emphasis here should be on “dreamt of”, as Hamlet is pointing out how little even the most educated people can explain.
Yeah. Ain’t that the truth.
Thank you, Khalid.
I still miss you. Very much. ❤
❤ ❤ ❤