With or Without You


Don’t make me cry, David.

I’m standing in front of the fresh cherries display at Sprouts, considering how many to buy while simultaneously pondering a brave new step in my life when I suddenly recognize the tune being piped in overhead.

It’s U2’s “With or Without You.”

Without warning, a familiar feeling floods me. The band U2 was one of David’s favorites. And this particular song has a special meaning for me. So many years ago, deep in the midst of my grief, I listened to that song over and over. It both consoled and pained me.

In my mind, I felt as though I couldn’t live without David. And yet I knew I would.

That was over nine years ago now and yet instantaneously David comes into my awareness. And, as if in recognition of the decision I’m about to make, his voice, gentle and strong from somewhere inside me, says:

“I’m proud of you, honey.”

I hear and feel this as clearly as if David were standing beside me, whispering these familiar words into my ear.

It takes all the effort I have to keep myself from crying right there in the middle of the produce aisle. And because I don’t want to look that vulnerable, my demanding voice says, ‘don’t make me cry.”

I manage to hold back the tears.

Somehow knowing he would leave this earth before I did, David tried to prepare me for his death. As if that were possible.

Mr. Serious. Mr. Practical. He even planned financially to take care of me and Davis after he’d be physically absent.

What I didn’t know was that he would take care of me emotionally in difficult, doubting moments that test my ability to fully love myself. Just by “reliving” and remembering his unconditional love for me.

He was the first person in my life to really see and accept me. The first to tell me how he appreciated my courage, my strength, my beauty, and my independence. It was such a gift. To have someone see me for who I truly am and not who they think I should be or want me to be.

It was his love and confidence in me that allowed me to declare not long after his death:

“I’m learning to let go of any attachment to what I thought my life would be and opening to limitless possibilities.”

And that desire, to live my life fully – no matter how different from what I’d planned – is what brought me to the border.

I am reminded of this as I live my life here and make choices that are countercultural. Choices that are not popular with my family and possibly further alienate me from them.


It’s not easy, to stand in my truth and keep my heart open in the face of old hurts, misguided assumptions, distorted perceptions that come at me. Whether it’s from strangers, or, most especially, from people I love.

Yet I believe God desperately wants us to keep loving and to know how unbelievably precious we are, how unconditionally loved we are, in the face of everything that comes at us. Sometimes the only way Love can do that is by sending us a message through someone who loves or has loved us that much.

For me, that person is David.

Complete vulnerability. That’s what David gave me. And that is what love asks of us.

We are meant to give ourselves away. And I know, in giving myself, I get so much more!

I am reminded of someone else who gave himself away for us. To show us the path of Love. To show us what is possible when you give it all away. And how transformational that is.


Love is the only answer in this crazy, confused, painful, joyful, fearful, beautiful, and insecure world. Love is the only power that will transform and save us.

And it waits for us to say “yes” to it.

“Through the storm we reach the shore
You give it all but I want more
And I’m waiting for you”

(Lyrics from “With or Without You”)

15 thoughts on “With or Without You

  1. Rob Morrell

    Really lovely, Pauline.

    Love can be sneaky, sometimes bathing us in its sweet glow, sometimes hitting us upside the head in the produce section of the grocery store.

    For all that I have put aside from my Catholic upbringing, I still hold onto the notion of guardian angels, watching over and occasionally guiding us as we walk (and often stumble upon) life’s path.

    Clearly David continues to be such a presence in your life.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a beautiful piece, and it expresses a powerful fact. Knowing we have support in our “countercultural” choices matters. Doing “different” things in fear and emotional pain is far more difficult than doing them in serenity, and having a source like that contributes a great deal to serenity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pauline

      Yes, and it’s important to be self-aware so that we don’t project that pain and fear onto others, which is what we’re experiencing so much in this country now


  3. Fanny Smedile

    Hola Pauline gracias por escribir y ayudar a a entender que el Amor cambia todo. Gracias por ayudar a Las personas que necesitan el Amor y un abrazo aqui estoy contigo no estas solo o sola. Gracias bendiciones.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Debbie

    I thank you again for your unconditional love and support. You continue to share it with everyone you meet. Your grace and spirituality are second to none. God bless your continued work. Love you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Patty Huffman

    Thank you Pauline! For me that person is Leonard. I cherish your words here as I try to move forward two months out.
    Blessings all around you and the work of your heart!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pauline

    Yes, I’m sure he is, Patty. We move on and they remain with us. I’m glad you’re continuing to enjoy life, as Leonard would want you to.


  7. You are so lucky to have been able to experience this rare kind of true life. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to part with each other. Then again, he seems to be with you even now, in all that you’re doing. Such a treasure. Despite all the pain.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, I see what you mean about the “true life”. He might have gifted that to you, too, through the way he loved you and you loved each other. Well, sometimes our typos are smarter than we are. Though, it’s probably even smarter not to use a small phone with the autocorrect function enabled when commenting on a blog post. 🙂


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