Today is my mom’s birthday, she would be 66. When I think of my mom, I inevitably come around to thinking about her relationship with Ron. I always think of Ron as her soul mate and that has lead to me spend a good amount of time lately thinking about soul mates in general. I have discovered, shockingly, that my understanding may be slightly different from the rest of, well everyone's. I decided to go on a quest to find the definition. I will share with you what I found and some of my thoughts.
Webster’s dictionary defines soul mate as;
1: a person who is perfectly suited to another in temperament
2: a person who strongly resembles another in attitudes or beliefs (ideological soul mates)
This seems a little over-simplified and tidy to me. If you know someone with whom you share a “perfectly suited temperament” I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you’ve yet to have a dinner date let alone a lasting relationship.
Urban Dictionary defines soul mate as;
A person with whom you have an immediate connection the moment you meet -- a connection so strong that you are drawn to them in a way you have never experienced before. As this connection develops over time, you experience a love so deep, strong and complex, that you begin to doubt that you have ever truly loved anyone prior. Your soul mate understands and connects with you in every way and on every level, which brings a sense of peace, calmness and happiness when you are around them. And when you are not around them, you are all that much more aware of the harshness of life, and how bonding with another person in this way is the most significant and satisfying thing you will experience in your lifetime. You are also all that much aware of the beauty in life, because you have been given a great gift and will always be thankful.
Finding my soul mate is the best thing that has ever happened to me; I have never felt this kind of love and understanding. We connect in so many ways, it astounds me.
Clearly, this one was either written about heroin or by a 14 year old girl fresh off of her first Twilight experience (The movie, I’m guessing, because why read when you can watch another person’s imagination at work?). I’m wondering how I didn’t have a job with Urban Dictionary when I was 14? Right, damn it, no internet way back in the 1980s. I could have used that money to purchase my fill of Guess jeans, Express V neck sweaters, Madonna records and No-Doz pills and at 14 I could have defined with flair. Other than “your soul mate understands and connects with you in every way and on every level,” my favorite part has to be the “buy soulmate mugs & shirts” link at the bottom. Monetize, people, I left the link in case you’re interested. Who does not need a soul mate mug?!
Finally, Wikpedia (the source of all internet knowledge) has, what I feel is, the most accurate definition;
A soul mate (or soulmate) is a person with whom one has a feeling of deep, natural affinity, similarity, love, sex, intimacy, sexuality, spirituality or compatibility.
I think soul mates are the people put in our lives to teach us long-term lessons, lessons that take more than a lifetime to figure out and maybe also companion souls; souls that spent lifetimes working out their “stuff” and now just recognize each other easily. Perhaps “kindred spirits” is a better term for those people? I don’t think they are always romantic relationships; although they sometimes are. I don’t think all people are evolved enough to recognize a soul mate when they have one. I think some people learn their lessons easier than others and they don’t need them. Me; I’m a person who learns everything the hard way. Sometimes, I think the people we call our soul mate are only people we love very much and we feel like a stronger label needs to be applied. Love is love, it is often hard-won and it is enough just as it is. I don’t think a passionate, abiding love necessarily has to be a soul connection. I don’t think it’s a simple concept.
Dan and I are married, we’ve been together for 13 years; we really love each other. We are very different people, we don’t have many of the same interests, we think differently, we need different emotional things, we both sometimes show love in a way that is confusing for the other to receive and sometimes to even understand, but we have worked and continue to work hard to exist in a relationship that isn’t always easy because it has value; to both of us. We have created a life and a family and, in this lifetime, we are permanently bound together. To me, this is a short-term lesson. By the time Dan and I are finished in this life time, we will have learned all we need to know from each other. Our souls will go off on their separate journeys, both better and stronger for having worked through our issues.
I’m not going to pretend knowledge of God that I don’t actually have; but I am a strong believer in a higher power; a higher power that has given us the gift of free will, a higher power that has a somewhat wicked sense of humor and a belief in our ability to evolve as humans, a belief in hope and imagination and love. That is a God I can work with as I evolve (For the record, I’m certain, God totally believes in evolution).
Ron met my mom on
When bad timing is involved, the other aspect becomes; would you un-do the parts of your life you have now for the parts you missed with your soul mate? Absolutely not. For better or worse you became who you are by living through the things that have happened; good, bad and ugly. It’s all fine and well to consider the could haves, should haves, would haves, but it would be another thing all together to go back and make your kids, your spouse, your life un-happen. It’s a lovely fantasy for a day or even a week when your kids are driving you crazy, your spouse is being a jerk or your life feels like it is falling down around you. That being said, there continues to be hope. And when you have a soul mate, you have lifetimes to figure it out. Sometimes when I think of my mom and Ron it makes me sad. I’ve taken up a lot of space in the last 18 months writing about my mom. I have a lot to say, but the reason I’ve been avoiding a lot of posts in that same time is that somehow my blog, my writing and my mom have all gotten tangled up together; I appreciate the platform to work out some of my grief and if that has helped anyone else deal with their own; well then, all the better. Something I haven’t been able to write about yet is the actual process of my mom’s death. One aspect of that involved Ron. When my mom was taken off of life support and not expected to wake up (which she did, defying the odds, however temporarily, once again) Ron made a very long trip to come and say goodbye. What he said to her was none of my business, it’s certainly none of yours, but in my imagination it held some form of “I will see you again.” I can’t speak for Ron, but of that; I am certain. I believe at the point the visit occurred, my mom had been off of life support for a few hours and we were just waiting for her to either die (said the doctors) or rally (said Erin and I). It is important to know that my mom would have killed me for letting Ron in the room. While trying to get to the hospital I let my mom take a terrible fall and she smashed the side of her face; she had been on life support for days; she looked horrifying, she truly would have physically harmed me for letting him through the door. In general, possibly on a daily basis, my mom’s will to live was fueled by control needs and anger. But all I could think is how I would feel if I had the chance to say goodbye to my soul mate and couldn’t. The thought breaks my heart. In the way that only a Cheli story goes, of course, she woke up while he was saying goodbye. His voice brought her back. It could have been the anger, who am I to say? Just as likely it was the love. Tomato , tow-mah-tow. Erin and I had spent hours zigzagging between begging her to live and telling her it was okay to go but we couldn’t get through to her when Ron could. If I’m going to be honest here; what happened next is that I went into panic mode. I was so scared about how angry she was going to be (because of course now she would live) that I tried to hide him! Soul mate or no, my mom was really scary when she was angry. Which is totally not the point; the point is my mom and Ron share a history, a story, a connection that will last beyond this life and I take comfort in those kinds of relationships.
My soul mates, and yes, I think I have more than one, are complicated relationships. My best friend (who you can read about here) and I are constantly learning things from one another; she is a long-term lesson for me and I am thankful to her in ways big and small. She has helped me become a more thoughtful person and if there is anyone out there who believes I am a good friend, they can thank Shawna Roth. I’ve learned every thing I know about true and lasting friendship from her. My Grandma; our souls are linked permanently and while I know I shouldn’t even say this out loud, and definitely not in perma-internet ink, I swear my Grandma’s soul now resides within the body of one Aidan Erin James Harper. As you can read about here, my Grandma’s soul even stopped in to say goodbye when it left this time around. Sometimes when I’m talking to Aidan I feel like I recognize my Grandma and feel lucky that we get to see each other again so soon. I hope my Mom is one of my soul mates because I can’t imagine not seeing her again, but my Mom and I pretty much said all of the things there were to say. We learned a lot from each other in one life time. Our emotional journey is more than likely over; but a girl can hope.
I have had the privilege of loving three men during my (mostly, in the big scheme of things) short life; my first love, my first adult love and Dan. My first love and Dan are short-term lessons; lessons that I am grateful for on a daily basis, I have learned a lot from both and continue to learn from my relationship with Dan. The middle relationship is more complicated, definitely a “long-term lesson.” We have always had timing issues, who knows? Maybe someday they will work themselves out. I believe we bring out the very best and the very worst in one another and that we still have work to do, I don’t presume to know what that lesson is in the long run. If I knew, maybe I would already have learned it. I can only tell you what I know I've learned from him. I learned to love with my whole heart regardless of the consequences, for me, love is always worth the pain. I learned that you cannot make someone else react to an emotional situation in the way that you would; sometimes you cannot control, this is a lesson I have a hard time with. It constantly comes around and smacks me down, makes me its bitch, someday I will figure it out, maybe I’ll even make it my bitch. I learned in the most round about way to always, always trust my instincts. My instincts are impeccable. That relationship has made me a more rounded, whole person, I am grateful for it. The existence of that relationship doesn’t have anything to do with either of our current, successful relationships and families. In fact, one of the wonderful things about my relationship with Dan is that neither of us has any issue with things that happened before we met, had anything been different, perhaps we wouldn’t have met and fallen in love, perhaps I wouldn’t have my daughters. It’s all connected in one way or another and in a month in which we focus on things to be thankful for; I’m celebrating my mom’s birthday, the holiday that was my favorite growing up and I’m thinking about the things I am grateful for in my life; not the least of which are my soul mates and their unique places in my life. Soul mates are a gift. Family is real. Gratitude is essential. Timing is everything.