Today would have been the forty-second anniversary of my marriage to my late wife. We had been married for forty years and eight months when she died. Every milestone event in which she played a significant part—birthday, anniversary, major holiday, and on and on—triggers both grief at the fact that I lost her and precious memories of my good fortune at having her in my life for so long. That seesaw of emotions causes tears of joy and tears of pain to flow. It is natural to feel competing or conflicting emotions, I suppose. Despite expecting those emotional waves, the emotional ride they deliver can be bumpy and draining, both physically and mentally. Today, I would like nothing more than to indulge myself in comforting memories, but I have to stay focused on the tasks at hand: wrapping up some cosmetic work on the current house and preparing for the move to the next one.  I met with the Realtor yesterday; she offered suggestions as to what furniture we should move out to better “stage” the house for potential buyers. At the moment, there is simply too much furniture to allow viewers to easily imagine what the place would look like with their furnishings. Instead of spending the day with the luxury of remembering the past, I will spend it setting the stage for the future. But I will allow myself to smile at reflections of my good fortune. And I will accept tears as the natural response to enduring grief.


True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island… to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him is a blessing.

   ~ Baltasar Gracián ~


The term “soul mate” often is either spoken in sarcastic jest or uttered with metaphysical fervor. But I think the term refers to a legitimate connection between people that is neither laughable nor otherworldly. I believe one can have a very few “soul mates” in one’s life; people to whom one feels a strong bond that blends intellect and emotion. If a person is married, ideally the spouses are soul mates for one another. Their fusion of romantic love with absolute trust, along with their innate desire to protect and one another and  help each other grow to their potential, is an expression of the bond that I think qualifies the pair as soul mates. A person can have other soul mates, in the form of very close friends with whom one shares most of those same attributes. Those are people with whom one feels quite close and comfortable and with whom one shares likes and dislikes; people who might almost be clones who do not look like one another. In every case, I think there is an intense affection between soul mates; not a romantic affection, but an affection of endearment and devotion. I suppose other people might call what I described as “best friends.” Maybe. But best friendships can splinter. The bond between soul mates is like a perfect weld that cannot be broken; the metal on either side of the merged metal might be torn, but the weld remains steadfast. Khalil Gibran advised not to make bond of love; I think his admonition is correct; our differences are matters, I think, of semantics. Obviously, not all marriages are between soul mates. Nor are all friendships sufficiently deep and the bond adequately strong to withstand pressures that might conspire to tear them apart. In thinking about soul mate relationships, I would say they are rare. But they are stunning in their beauty, even if invisible to the world around them.


But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

   ~ Khalil Gibran ~

I have many things on my mind today, but I do not have the time nor the words to express what those things are. For now, I’ll return to my role as painter and mover.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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