I am beginning to see what you’ve lost

By Emma Pearson

September 28, 2021

17 August 2021

All photos my own – French, Spanish, Andorran Pyrenees

I am just back from three weeks holidays spent with Medjool.

It’s been lovely. Refreshing. Renewing.

Most of the time we were walking in the Pyrenees, east to west, heading from the Mediterranean sea towards the Atlantic ocean. We walked for about 12 days with a few rest days scattered here and there. The walk forms part of the Haute Route des Pyrénées (HRP), a 43-day hike that criss-crosses in and out of France, Spain and Andorra, high up in the mountains. I/we hope to complete it next year or the year after.

Inshallah. (I add Inshallah on to most of my assertions of things that I hope will happen “out there in the future”. Anything that is more than a few weeks or months away, really. There’s something so wise about the phrase).

My dad, who is still alive at 83, completed the HRP 16 years ago with my uncle. They did it in one go (taking just over 7 weeks), which is an extraordinary accomplishment. As with the GR20 walk across Corsica that I did 3 years ago, a year after Mike died, these are both epic mountain walks that Mike and I had on our shortlist of adventures for when the kids were old enough not to be holidaying with us. We never got that time together, but I intend to complete them just because Mike cannot.

Dad saw us off …
…and dad collected us at the end

We walked 7-9 hours each day (including breaks for eating/ photos/ lake-or river dips/ removing or adding layers/ map reading…) unless it was a rest day.

It is good to walk. Not just physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually too. There is just a little more space around life and love and pain and loss and grief when walking.

Walking facilitates dialogue by allowing more space for reflecting, finding the better word, the more appropriate question, the cleaner response. The pacing of conversation slows, becomes richer and deeper.

These shoes have walked a long, long way

Medjool and I had a lot of conversations while we were walking. We had a lot of silence too. It was a good balance. I learned more about him. He learned more about me. This is still quite a new relationship, after all. One that has started when we are both in our 50s, each with significant relationship history that needs to be incorporated into our new relationship. Which involves talking about other loves.

One of the many beautiful things about Medjool is that he is quick to express his love and admiration for women – not just me, but other women who have been important in his life. He’s been remarkable about staying friends with some of his former girlfriends. I don’t have that experience because I just had Mike, and while I still have a relationship with Mike, and always will, I don’t actively go out and spend time with him. But Medjool does. He nurtures relationships and is shaped by them. Still. It’s quite beautiful to behold and I know it takes some loving skill.

On top of the Canigou (again)

During our 100+ hours of walking on mountain paths, crossing streams and rivers, negotiating flocks of pregnant cows with their protective bulls, we talked a lot about love. The love Medjool has for me. The love he has for other women. The love Mike and I had. The love I still have for Mike.

There are many flavours, types and depths to love.  And what is so evident to me is that while every love is unique and special, some forms of love have more depth, power and reverberation than others. Medjool often expresses to me how this or that piece of our relationship feels different, differently loving, than in previous relationships. He is careful not to compare or contrast, and is always respectful and grateful for the loving relationships he feels lucky enough to have had.  I find myself just smiling and nodding, for I feel it too.

AND I feel that this is what I had, always, with Mike.

I don’t want to gush and say, “yeah, duh!” to him. I don’t want to minimise anything about other beautiful and loving relationships he’s had. I also don’t want to seem unappreciative about what we have now. Truly, it is magic. It is special. It is what I hoped – and expected – to experience again, after Mike died.  And it is so similar – in depth and flavour – to what I had with Mike. So special. So right, even if it’s also so wrong.

I love that Medjool feels this too. And sometimes I can’t help but smile and say, “and yes – I know this feeling well. It’s what Mike and I had”. 

It can be delicate. Tricky. It feels wrong to be seen to compare. But if you’ve always had tomatoes that are just a bit too hard, not quite ripe, out of season, and then bite into your first ever sun-kissed, fully ripe tomato, just plucked off the tomato vine, well then yes, that’s a different experience of tomato. It’s an entirely different experience, even if it is also a tomato.

I digress.

When we got back on Sunday, after the 7+ hour car journey from the Pyrenees to my home (during which time there were yet more conversations), Neil turned to look at me while we were still sitting in the car and thanked me deeply for the holiday we had just had. He talked about what had made it so rich and special, about how he had always wanted holidays like what we had just had. He talked about the various ingredients that had helped to make it special. Mountains. Walking. Big nature. And much more.

We were together alone for long long hours at a stretch

He then added, “I am beginning to see what you and Mike have lost”.

Yes. We lost a lot. I lost a lot. Mike lost even more.

And Medjool has gained a lot.

And so now have I.

And what beautiful words. What an amazing recognition. What an expression of gratitude. What enormous respect.

I do wish I still had Mike. Truly. Every day.

AND I love and honour this love I have with Medjool. If I hadn’t been so lucky in love with Mike, I know that I wouldn’t have been able to create this new love with Medjool.

Thank you Mike. Thank you Medjool. Thank you love. Thank you life.

Where the HRP (and GR10) begins/ends at Banyuls-sur-Mer

About Emma Pearson

2 thoughts on “I am beginning to see what you’ve lost

  1. Oh Emma, this hits home hard…. Nothing is better than being best friends and deeply in love with your adventure buddy.

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