Gifts of the heart

I had coffee with a friend on Saturday.  We’ve known each other for almost ten years, and she’s one of the few people here in L.A. who knew me well before I met Mike.  In the course of our conversation, she brought up some of the positive changes she saw in me over the years I was with Mike.  I’ve found my voice, both in writing and just in life — I’m not afraid to speak up for myself anymore.  I’m more authentic, less apologetic.  She used to call me Tinkerbell, because I was sort-of waifish and fairylike, but she says I’ve become more “solid” over the years… and she was quick to emphasize that this was a positive thing and not a comment on my weight. “I’m less afraid to take up space,” I said, and she nodded. I’m also far more comfortable in my own skin, more secure with my body and my sexuality, than I ever was before.

When Mike entrusted me with his heart, he also gave me the gift of unconditional acceptance.  Before Mike fell in love with me, my self-esteem was pretty shaky. I felt like a freak (hello, I was still a virgin in my mid-thirties!) and doubted that any man would ever truly understand me, much less love me unconditionally. The enduring gift that Mike gave me comes down to this:  He showed me my own worth.

Saturday I received another gift, a housewarming present from Mike’s parents.

The photo is one of our engagement portraits (we used a black & white version on the wedding invitations). I love the beautiful frame and matting, and the words went straight to my heart. I particularly appreciate that it says “once in a while,” rather than “once in a lifetime.” 

While I know I won’t ever love anyone else quite the way I loved (and still love) Mike, I also know that he didn’t give me the gift of unconditional love only to take it away from me when he died. It was a gift meant for me to keep always and to share with others. I can honor his memory not by cutting myself off from the possibility of loving again, but by keeping my heart open.


~ by hourbeforedawn on February 14, 2011.

6 Responses to “Gifts of the heart”

  1. Such beautiful gifts, Lira. My love gave me many of the same: self-belief in my worth, my writing, the beauty I was for him. His last gift was to show me joy and courage in the face of death and, like you, I feel the need to live in his honour, to keep away from bitterness. If I discard all he gave me by giving up on life, he would be so very sad.

    All the love I see in that photo of you both; I don’t have the words.

  2. wow lira. i am so happy about that picture 🙂

  3. Everything you said is true. I noticed a change in you….the biggest is not being afraid to try something different. Love you very much.

  4. Dear Lira.
    Gerry and I labored over giving you the framed photo. We did not want to cause you more pain but from our view you both shared what some people never discover. The sentiment written below the photo was what drew me to it. If there was a truth ever written that described You and Michael, that was it, all I needed to do was add the proper photograph. We are so grateful to you for loving our son and giving him a loving home. He just ran out of time. We pray for you and your continued successes.
    Love Mom and Dad

    • Dad, I don’t even have words for how much that photo means to me. It’s perfect. Not everyone understood what Mike and I had together. Thank you for seeing it, for validating it, for embracing me as part of your family.

  5. A beautiful post Lira.

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