favorites life poems & stories

Loving Too Many People

Irv Mendocino 2010-14
with my dear cousin Irv, laughing on the beach during one of his visits

Today it feels like I love too many people. I know it seems like a silly thing to say, but the truth is that with all the wonderful things that love brings, it is also accompanied by loss. Today I am feeling the acuteness of the prospect of losing my dear cousin Irv Spivak who, by the looks of things may not be with us much longer. We weren’t born as cousins but did adopt each other after I proposed our cousinhood on one knee at Little Henry’s Italian Restaurant in SF about 15 years ago. I wish he was lucid enough now to tell the story one more time. He liked to embellish, aside from his usual dramatic flair, that the reason that I asked him to become family was so he wouldn’t be able to try to sleep with me any longer. Always laughs. And then more laughs. Always though, there were expressions of love and appreciation. I will miss him dearly.

What I am seeing now, is that with love comes attachment, and with attachment comes loss. Without attachment, there can be no real loss. We can learn to gracefully surrender that attachment when the time comes, but however skilled or calloused we may become in witnessing a loved one exiting our lives, there remains a severing that happens. With that severing, or with even the prospect or advent of that severing, comes loss.

Today, I am touched not just by that loss, but by the extrapolation of that loss to to all the people in my life that I have come to love and can’t imagine losing. At times like this, when the pain of loss can be so acute, it seems like folly to love as many people as I do. I know there’s no real choice in the matter, but it’s still not easy. The beauty is that sadness only exists when there is love, and my heart, my head, my whole body feels filled with that love and gratitude.

from out of our grief - tulipsLoss is also the most poignant reminder of the preciousness that exists here and now, in every interaction, in every relationship that we have, whether it be with a family member, a friend, a lover or even the bagging clerk at the local grocery. Loss is the only situation I can think of where there is a residual which remains before something happens. Preciousness is the present moment residual of future loss. When we truly recognize that the people we love will not always be here, it connects us to the preciousness of that which is here now.

I have made it a practice to try to remember to wave goodbye to people when they are leaving my home, and watch them drive away, treating this departure as a final chance at a farewell and acknowledgment of my love and appreciation. People do die sometimes before we get a chance to truly say “goodbye” so I do my best to make sure my “farewells” take that into account. My midwest upbringing taught me the virtues of stepping outside to wave goodbye when people leave. I’ve simply added my own inner acknowledgment that this time may be the last time. The wave is often followed by a simple silent bow of gratitude.

Here is a poem of mine which touches on some of these feelings:

You Have No Idea

You have no idea how precious this is,
You and I. Connected. Now.
The next moment unpromised as it must.
There will come a tick in time which will be my last,
and a tock entirely yours.
And for every two lives that tick and tock,
In one form of love or another,
And all connections are forms of love,
There will be a final sounding.

You have no idea how precious this is.
Naming in the mirror as I wept
All whom I love,
Trailing each name,
Alive now or once passed,
With the word “dead.”
Reminding myself of our impermanence,
Name by name.
Over and over.
Loss by loss.
“Please not you!” I wailed.
Name by name.
Heartstroke by heartstroke.
Spadeful by spadeful.
My list vast and deep as oceanic love.

“You have no idea how precious this is,” wiping the tears away,
Imploring to teach myself what somehow I have not yet come to fully know.

Of five quintillion possible human unions,
And yes, I did the math,
Ours has happened upon us.
Dare we unveil of ourselves
Something only ours?
Communal treasures,
Children in the back wood sharing unknotted secret kerchiefs
Filled with peregrine feathers, decoder rings,
And stones like human eyes.

For all we know, your clock may tick or mine tock
Before our paths again cross.
Isn’t that enough to work a little extra with shovels and sweat,
To hollow a pool
That the stars may reflect our beauty?

4 replies on “Loving Too Many People”

Thank you for this empathic article and the beautiful poem. Especially today I am feeling what you are sharing and your words brought me some relief <3

This wasnt what I was looking for during my searches…i was looking for maybe something to console me about loving too many people and if im just whacked in the head for these feelings since they contradict a majority of societies general views on love and monogamy….but this was beautiful….its certainly a relavant feeling when it comes down to it. Losing someone is far from easy. Im sorry for your loss mate. Im glad you truly appreciated this man and respected him. That warms me up and brings tears to my eyes.

Hey Brandon, sorry I didn’t reply to your comment awhile back. I appreciate your taking the time to connect amid our shared humanity. Regarding your original search intent, you might want to check out the book “More Than Two,” or the website by the same name. In my own opinion, polyamory will eventually be another moralistic prohibition which will someday gain wider acceptance and legal recognition. There’s no reason, aside from protection of children and those otherwise potentially pressured/coerced, that love shouldn’t be allowed, valued and encouraged in whatever forms people desire. Let love and desire dictate their own ways of free expression. Best of luck in your journey.

Leave a Reply