Tumbling into Love

It is exactly 19 years ago today that I started life as Yashobodhi. A bit later that year I felt the ground shifting under my feet. I met Kamalashila at an order event in April 2006. We had been working together on an online forum for a while before we talked in person. Five years before that I was on a retreat he led, but we had not really had much personal contact then. Back to that day at the beginning of April 2006. We walked from the dining hall to the arts centre and as KS was matching his footsteps to mine, I fell in love. I do not think I could say one sensible word for the rest of that weekend. My heart went right open. It did not only open for him, but it seems it was opening for the whole world. I kept falling for years after that. So much change. Nothing to hold onto. A lot of letting go and getting used to. A lot of growing, realising, seeking meaning, trying to understand each other. Getting to know what each of us needed.

I left the Netherlands a year after we met and moved in with him into a Buddhist community in Devon. From living on my own for 15 years in Amsterdam, I was all of a sudden cohabiting in a small caravan. This was challenging. This was often almost unbearable, but the love and interest in each other was strong. We wanted to live in a land-based community. We thought we would somehow achieve that by moving to Spain, to what is now EcoDharma. This was also challenging. It didn’t work out for us. We came back to the UK and settled in London. What a relief. We lived here for ten years and then, after the first pandemic lock-down and receiving a notice to quit, we moved out of London into the countryside of East Suffolk. I tried this life. I tried very hard. Lots of fields, animals, beautiful skies, but not much culture and friendship. After three years of this, we moved back to London again. It is so good to be here. In some ways. The downside is Kamalashila is dying. The upside is we have excellent medical care close by, friends, galleries, work opportunities for me, lots of interesting things happening all around. Amidst it all, I am still falling. Still going places.

KS and YB in caravan in Hittisleigh, Devon, July 2006

Somewhere between living and dying

So my life partner is dying with cancer. If the oncologist was right – back at the beginning of May – Kamalashila may live till August. This is me having checked this on the calendar, which is of course unspeakably strange and random. It is unclear when he will die. But it is likely it will happen sometime in the next few months. I am grateful we have this time for preparing for his death, for as much as we can. Hopefully we can soon leave the practical details behind so we can concentrate on what is really important. Which is? The first few weeks after the prognosis I was quite clear about it. Love. Love is what is most important. And being real. I still think that. But somehow there is also grief, dread of loss and riding with change. There is planning ahead for a life that comes to an end, and another life that will continue. I cannot think too much about what it will be like when he is not around anymore. There is so much vying for attention and so much to adapt to and accommodate. I try to accompany KS as best as I can and also look after myself. He doesn’t need much practical help at the moment. I also try to keep my own life afloat. Some things are too much for me now. I do not have a lot of energy for other people except for KS and myself. I am trying to figure out how to keep everything together between all of this living and dying.

I felt so much more clear and energetic just after all of this started: KS being checked into the hospital with hypercalcemia. He was put onto fluids immediately. I didn’t know at the time this was to save his life. Back then. A week longer with rising calcium levels and a less than optimal kidney function and it is likely he would have died before his birthday on 14 April. I went back and forth between home and hospital. A tumour was found the day after he was admitted to the hospital and put through a CT scanner. My life goes between these kind of facts about the cancer and a wide array of emotions, interspersed with pleasant intervals of nothing much happening. Sometimes grief is close to the surface, sometimes in the background and sometimes it is finding expression through tears that seem to start in my bones and well all the way up from my toes. My nervous system is holding up for now, but I need to find strategies to replenish, nourish, let go.

Yesterday I went to the Expressionists exhibition in the Tate Modern. I took more time with a Kandinsky and a Franz Marc. I allowed my heart to be moved and lifted. So beauty helps. What also helps is work, conversations with friends, talking to a therapist, baths, light reading, nature, walking, clothes shopping, meditation. Yoga would help, but I do not do enough of it. A friend suggested sports yesterday. I am contemplating swimming. And then I feel so fed up with doing, and having to do stuff. Writing also helps. It has always helped. But yet, I haven’t done much of it since this started. Hence this blog. To help me.

Kennington Park Rose Garden Early June 2024