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1 May 2013 / stageivhope

A Eulogy of Sorts

Arijit hated funerals.  So he’s not having one.  Instead, I threw him a party to celebrate his life, and the lives of everyone who loves him.  He wanted people to get together and tell stories and share happy memories.  He wanted his friends and family to take comfort in one another and enjoy life.  And so we did.

Because he didn’t want a funeral, there would be no eulogies, no public speeches of mourning.  We met up in a ballroom and ate snacks and laughed, because everyone who knows him has a good Arijit tale to tell.

But I cannot shake the fact that someone as special and wonderful as Arijit deserves a eulogy.  He wouldn’t want one—for someone so sure of his own amazingness, he had a very hard time hearing how amazing he really was.  But he should have one.  I want him to have one.

Everyone who reads this blog already knows about Arijit’s grand and glorious achievements, of the ways he was trying to save the world.  Instead of talking about those, I’d rather tell a story of us.  Of the greatest gift that Arijit gave me, the gift that gives me the hope and strength to get through this.

Arijit and I were 24 and 22, respectively, when we first met, and we started dating seven months later.  He was my first real relationship, and I his.  This meant that we both came into the relationship lacking all the experience and skills in dating that most twenty-somethings have developed, which lead to a rocky first few months.  We were terrible at communicating.  We misread signals.  We had sharply differing expectations.  I thought he was selfish.  He thought I was needy.  We were both right.

More than once we each considered calling it quits.  I’d like to say that the reason we never did was because we realized that we had potential and that our problems were those inherent to all new relationships—that with time and openness and honesty we’d learn what the other needed, and how to provide for those needs, and that successful relationships involve giving and taking, but in even measure.  But that’s not the reason.

The real reason is that we were both afraid that we wouldn’t find anyone better.

I realize that this sounds a lot like settling, but, like so many things in life, it’s much more complex than that.

You see, we had each decided, long before we met, that we were weird.  Our interests, quirks, habits, and personalities made us different.  We were proud of who we were, and had no intentions of changing, but we feared that we would never find anyone who would understand, let along appreciate, all those little odd things about us.  Arijit had resigned himself to being alone, and I wasn’t self-assured enough to go after what I wanted.

But here we were, with this person who not only understood and appreciated those things, but actually enjoyed them.  He found it adorable that I sang nonsense songs to myself.  I laughed at his strange sense of humor.  We shared a love of incredibly nerdy pursuits.  He respected my sometimes intense introversion.  I thought he was beautiful.  We just felt so comfortable around each other.  For us, finding someone who actually liked us despite our perceived strangeness, and who wasn’t scared off by all those things about which we were self-conscious, was so rare a thing that we were willing to tolerate a lot of pain and frustration so as not to lose them.

In time, as expected, things improved.  We got better at talking to each other about our concerns.  We became less afraid of articulating what we wanted and needed.  Things weren’t perfect—no relationship ever is—but we learned from our mistakes and did our damnedest to be the best partner we could be, because that’s what the other person deserved.  In short:  We grew up.  And we fell in love.

Looking back on those early months, I can’t help but feel sad for the scared little people we were.  But here’s the thing about love that surprised me, that I didn’t realize until recently:  just how much it changes you.  I can feel sad for those people because love has emboldened me.  I am still the same weird person I was almost eight years ago—perhaps even weirder—but Arijit’s love gave me the strength to recognize that I shouldn’t have to wait around for someone to decide if and when they can love me.  Arijit taught me that, despite my faults and idiosyncrasies, there is someone out there who would love me in spite of, and indeed because of, them.  In those rare moments where I let my mind wander to thoughts of the future, a future that still seems so unreal, I worry that being loved by Arijit has ruined me for all other relationships, because the bar has been set so high.  And then I realize that Arijit wouldn’t want it any other way—that we had worked so long and hard to convince the other of their own self-worth that I would be untrue to Arijit to believe otherwise.

So that is what most amazes me about Arijit:  the transformative power of his love.  There is nothing I can say or write that would truly express the depths of my appreciation for that gift.  Instead, I just loved him back with all my heart, and focused those lessons back on him, and taught him that he was a person worthy of love, too.  And the strength of that love is the reason I am still here today, writing these words, and not completely paralyzed with grief.  This is the best way I know to honor him.

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7 Comments

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  1. Dan / May 1 2013 3:00 PM

    Thank you for sharing. Hang in there!

    Best,

    Dan

  2. sarahb921 / May 1 2013 3:54 PM

    Heather, I went to college with Arijit- also Carleton Class of ’03. Though I didn’t know him well at college (which is obviously to my great loss) I am familiar with his amazing spirit through what you & so many have shared. I just wanted to let you know how much this piece moved me. You are right that you have received a tremendous gift through the love that you shared, and by writing about it in such an honest way you are sharing that gift with others. Thank you. Be well through this difficult time- it sounds like you already know that you have all the means you need to face the path ahead- strengthened by your love and by the time that you shared with your husband. My sincere best wishes, Sarah

  3. KaoKaliaYang / May 1 2013 6:00 PM

    Beautifully written.

  4. Liz / May 1 2013 6:17 PM

    Heather, I’m another Carl (class of ’01). I lost track of Arijit (or Ari as I knew him) after leaving and was sad that it took over 10 years and his Poop Strong campaign to find him again, but I’m so glad I did, regardless of the circumstances. Your story was so moving that I was crying before I hit midway. I’m glad that Ari was able to find someone as amazing as you to love, and that you had the opportunity to love him and know what it was liked to be truly loved by someone like him. I wish you all the love and happiness as you go through this journey.
    -Liz

  5. Penny Mc / May 1 2013 6:24 PM

    So very sorry for your loss Heather. You have learned the greatest lesson of all – love one another.
    You were blessed… how fortunate you are & he was. Take care.

  6. zcher / May 4 2013 5:56 AM

    This is a beautiful testament to your love and life together. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Jazz / Jun 17 2013 10:49 PM

    You write beautifully. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings – we are the richer for it. Wishing you peace as you embrace the chaos, and bottomless stores of love and light.

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