In the past couple years, Kwohtations has not only served as a crash course in starting and managing a business, but a lens through which I’ve come to see myself and the life I’m building. It’s taught me about what I think matters to stand up for, about finding and following my own voice, about growing up and giving thanks. Unintentionally, it’s also been a way through which I’ve experienced love and, most recently, profound loss.
My partner, Napoleon, recently passed away unexpectedly. He was a beautiful person in all the wonderful, unpredictable, and complex ways that makes someone truly alive. Throughout our three years together, Napoleon never once gave me flowers or jewelry. We never celebrated Valentine’s Day or anniversaries, or had fancy date nights, or talked much about definitions or labels, or any of those milestones that are usually associated with romantic relationships.
Hell, I’m pretty sure I bought my own drinks on our first date. But he tried to make it to every single one of my weekend craft markets, and consistently managed to make it to most, usually bearing coffee and always with a smile and a kiss for me. Sometimes he’d stay a while and chat, or man my booth to give me a quick break. Sometimes he’d check in for a few minutes, make sure I was okay, and then go on with his day. I thought it was the most romantic thing ever. I still do.
Without meaning to, Napoleon showed me how I want and need to be loved. Instead of gifts, he gave me his attention, time, and energy. He’d sit with me doing his own work as I tackled bookkeeping, emails, and business planning. He often happily accompanied me to the thrift store, the art store, and the hardware store, and helped me build and paint my booth display.
He listened to me talk endlessly about paper types and printing presses, about my plans and questions and struggles with the business. He was excited when I made progress on the cards and consoled me when it was hard. He made the most mundane tasks fun, made the small victories a reason to celebrate and the setbacks only temporary. He made everything seem doable, and so much less lonely. He cared about Kwohtations simply because I did.
I’ve often thought and talked about Kwohtations like it’s just me plowing through it all alone, but I’m painfully realizing that this story isn’t completely accurate. Because the truth is that Napoleon was always there with me every step of the way, and his absence is palpable now everywhere I turn.
I’m sharing all this because I want to explain why you won’t be hearing from me for a while. But also because I want people to know at least a little bit about how amazing he was. And I want to remember for myself how much and how well I was loved, and this is the only way I know how.
I’m taking a break from Kwohtations because it’s all a bit much now. I have to assume that at some point picking up a paintbrush will help ease the pain, rather than heighten it. Whether that’s a few weeks, a few months, or a lot of months from now, I’m honestly not sure. But I’m promising myself and you that I’m going to pick myself up, glue the pieces back together, and get back to the business of living life in its fullest sense, because it’s what he would have done. Until then, be kind and take care of yourselves.
If you would like to donate to the gofundme campaign to help cover the costs of end-of-life services and a permanent memorial to honor Nap's life, please donate here. Thank you and much love.