Why her? Why him? Why now?

By Emma Pearson

May 25, 2024

Main image by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

1st March 2021

Medjool has a precious childhood friend – let’s call him Yves – who is still very much a presence in his life today. To say that Yves is spiritually aware, spiritually curious, even spiritually provocative, would be an understatement. I am not privy to much of their conversations but from time to time I hear nuggets of their noodlings. (Too many metaphors here but you get my drift – haha there’s another).

A few weeks ago, as Medjool and I wandered up the Jura in the yellow Sahara-sand-stained snow, he told me of a recent conversation with his bestie where Yves had asked, “Why do you think you met Emma?” And he was unlikely to be satisfied with an answer such as, “Well – I was on a dating site and her profile popped up, and I thought, Why Not?”

It seemed to be one of those questions that could be answered in many ways, depending on the emphasis on each word, as well as depending on the relationship between question asker and question recipient:

Why do you think you met Emma?
Why do you think you met Emma?
Why do you think you met Emma?
Why do you think you met Emma?
Why do you think you met Emma?
Why do you think you met Emma?
Why do you think you met Emma?
Why do you think you met Emma?

Image by Jan Canty on Unsplash

I am being a bit too full of myself with all of these options around intonation, but the question sounded like it was about, “Why do you think it is Emma you met, rather than another person? Why her? Why you? Why now?”

It’s a lovely question, and I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall (or fly in the air, since they met out of doors).

They discussed whatever they discussed, and in recounting this story, Medjool also asked me why I think I had met him. Another lovely question.

We have noodled it a little these past ten days or so, particularly since I started listening to the provocative Gary Zukav, who has a compelling view on relationships and spiritual partnerships as THE primary avenue for growth.

But first, some of Medjool’s musings as to why he met me, and why now. It is beautiful and touching and meaningful. And a little weighty too. At risk of getting some of what he felt wrong, the essence seemed to be two-fold:

To help him begin to confront his own mortality, to lean into his impermanence; and
To be an accompanying guide during his mother’s rapid illness and death just months after I met him

A phrase that gets bandied about and that can be lovely and irritating in equal measure is “People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime”. I think there is richness and value in that belief. Particularly when it helps put a little breathing space around what might otherwise be an irritating relationship with someone.

I wouldn’t want to speak for Medjool, though it’s interesting that some weeks after I met him, while he was dating both me and another woman, who he was equally fond of, and in considerable emotional turmoil as a result, I wrote him a letter called “ugh” that included these paragraphs:

I want what’s best for you, truly I do. AND even more, I want what’s best for me. I have no idea if you’re good for me, not really. How can I know that after seeing you a handful of times? I have an intuitive sense that we’d be great together. I trust my instinct more than you do (parship data haha). I love and delight in your company, and the conversations we have. I love the interests and past-times we share. I know that we share even more interests than we have already experienced together – music, film, travel, the world around us. I know I would learn from you – whether activities or culture or new places or just French or German words. I know I would grow with you – you’re different to me, you’re different to Mike, and that would mean some stretch for myself in how I see myself in the world. And I know I could lean into you when I am in challenge. You have already “fait preuve” (proven that you can be) of being a “sensitive force” when I am in struggle.

For me, those are the ingredients I need in a relationship. And I know this because I had close to 30 years of these ingredients with Mike (okay – perhaps not the French & German vocab).

And I think you would learn from me – maybe also some sports and activities, conscious and conscientious travel, English vocabulary, and perhaps especially, facing into death and so embracing life fully. But all of that would be for you to determine. I think you’d be able to answer already how you would learn from me, and if it’s likely to be rich and deep enough over time.

I am sure that I have known for a long time that relationships – particularly one’s primary, intimate relationship – are about growth, stretch, and becoming more of who we are meant to be, of who we can be, of who we might be. I was so lucky with Mike that even though neither or us might have expressed it consciously, we were not just good for one another. We were also good for one another’s “whole development”. Or soul development.

We matched one another. We challenged one another. We supported one another. We might not have had deep conversations about it, though we did regularly discuss and then agree explicitly to stay in the relationship, whole-heartedly. (This habit came after my mum, when I was in my malleable teens, suggested that marriage was an archaic institution and that we shouldn’t commit to staying with one person for all of our lifetime because things change. Instead we should renew our intention periodically). A couple that I admired a lot, and who I have sadly long lost touch with, Kenny and Judy, checked together every few years whether or not they still wanted in, together, in their relationship.

I liked the idea of that, and Mike and I did have those conversations, especially after Mike dropped everything and moved to France with me, for my work, back in 1998. Every year for a while, then every few years, I would ask him, “Do you still want to be here, in France? Do you still want to be here, with me?” It was sweet and naïve, but there was a true respect beneath the habit – a desire to allow the other to live their best life, fully, completely, authentically.

Image by Claudio Schwarz Purzlbaum on Unsplash

So on to answer to the question, “Why did you meet Medjool”, “Why you, Emma? Why Medjool? Why now?” It was just over twenty four months after Mike died, and 19 days before Julia’s death. Life was rough, tense, scary. I felt quite weakened. I was terribly bereft and more loss was on the horizon though I really hadn’t imagined it might be. I was exhausted. My need was for self-care and personal agency. Not having someone else decide if I was the right one for them. I knew Medjool was the right one for me (on a sample of meeting one chap for one date), and I never waivered from that sense. I would be fine with whatever decision he made, knowing that I was certain in my decision, even if he wasn’t certain in his. The hardest part was feeling that he held the cards, which he seemed to. And once I took my agency back, with the “ugh” letter, I felt fully at peace. I let go of suffering and just enjoyed every “now” that I got to have with him. I really didn’t know if it would continue or end.  

Over the last 20+ months, since Medjool came into my life, I have come to believe that I met him so that I would be able to sustain my belief that life is fundamentally worth sticking around for. Worth investing in. That love eases pain, even if it does not heal it. That loving fully and allowing oneself to be loved fully, is about the most important work we have to do. Life still isn’t easy. Many things have not gone my way. But having someone living and breathing to pour my love into, and being refilled with love by someone who is also living and breathing – that matters to my growth, faith, and life.

I think Medjool met me to learn about death and loss and grief.

And I think I met Medjool to renew and sustain my faith in love and life.

Image by Manny Becerra on Unsplash

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