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Then (above) and Now (below.


The Knot:
Prem Kahani - Love Story





You have to understand - I had my life planned out. I knew who I was, and what I believed my soul incarnated to do in this life, and I felt fairly determined to do it.

That quality existed in me back when I was 17-18 years old. That was when Patrick and I dated at the end of my senior year of high school, into the summer and the fall semester of college.

That quality existed two years ago when, after eight long years of study and effort, the translation of Guru Arjan's Sukhmani Sahib got completed and published.

The problem, as John Lennon so eloquently put it, is that "Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans."

Patrick was someone that I met as a teenager in high school. He was COOOOL. He had graduated college early, and had gotten a fellowship to attend graduate school at the age of 21. He had his own house - where his group of friends gathered to play computer video games like Archon. (Which was a BIG DEAL back then.) And sometimes there would be board games like "Civilization" that could last for hours and hours and hours.

He also loved to go roller skating on Saturday nights and he was a heck of a skater. Graceful, strong - and looking back on it now - pretty darn sexy.

So when we got together in the spring of my senior year in high school, it was exciting. He had a sleek white convertible. He taught me how to drive and helped me get my driver's license. We had lots and lots of long, deep conversations about ... oh, everything. We hung out until two in the morning the night of high school graduation.

And Saturday nights were roller skating, then Dairy Queen. We watched Monty Python movies with a group of friends on the weekends. Being with Patrick was FUN and fascinating. He knew so many things I never knew anything about!

In the fall, I left for college while Patrick left for graduate school. And I got caught up in the big college experience. Leaving home. Meeting new people. Taking interesting classes. Discovering extracurricular activities like college theater. In that time of my life, it was an "out of sight, out of mind" situation.

I had no clue how to have a serious, long-term relationship. Much less a long-distance one. And so I pretty much flaked out on Patrick. I'm not proud to admit it. But it's what happened.

But a funny thing happened as Patrick and I started going our separate ways. He sent me the most beautiful letter. I won't go into the details of what he said in that letter. What I will say is that my heart never forgot it.

Over the years, the memory of that letter stayed with me. Patrick and I would stay in touch from time to time. Bump into each other in Texas, or I might call him on his birthday. And yes - I confess that I would search his name online every once in a while, to see what he was up to.

But whenever I did that, it was clear that we were living two really different lives. We'd had a sweet teenage summer romance and that was about it.

My journey in life eventually led me to move to the Hacienda de Guru Ram Das ashram in Espanola, New Mexico. There, I became part of a spiritual community and had the amazing opportunity to study directly with Singh Sahib Harbhajan Singh ji Yogi (“Yogi Bhjan“).

I became a Sikh and, under his guidance and training, began translating some of the Sikh devotional poetry into English. All told, I dedicated these last 20 years of my life to studying and learning about Kundalini Yoga and Sikh Dharma. I became a Kundalini Yoga teacher, a Teacher Trainer for Kundalini Yoga and a minister of Sikh Dharma.

But something was missing. The spiritual vows I had taken meant living a celibate life - unless married. And though I held out the hope/dream/fantasy that one day I would marry a Sikh man who was committed to the teachings and the path - it never seemed to materialize.

Cut to the summer of 2015.

Patrick, who had become a widower 2 years previously, was planning a trip to Utah where he was going to present at a Perl 6 conference. He sent me a message over Facebook, and mentioned that he would be driving through New Mexico. He asked if we might get together for lunch.

Something inside felt like this was the Universe giving me a chance to correct some mistake I had made a long time ago. I had never felt good about the way I treated Patrick at the end of our summer romance, teenage idiocy not-withstanding.

I thought it was a pretty Divine opportunity to do something with a good heart, for this man who I had not seen in close to 20 years. So I invited him to my home. Cooked a healthy, tasty, vegetarian meal. And we ended up talking for almost three hours straight.

When he left to continue his trip, I remember saying to myself, "I had forgotten what a really good friend Patrick is."

And for a moment, my mind flitted to the "I wonder if ..." place. Which I quickly dismissed. Because his wife had passed away so recently. Because here I was a "card-carrying" Sikh minister. It didn't make much sense. But the thought crossed my mind ...

At the end of 2015, the translation of Sukhmani Sahib was completed. Sukhmani Sahib is the longest devotional song in the Sikh tradition, composed by the Fifth Master, Guru Arjan, in the latter half of the 16th century. It had taken me 8 years to translate it. On top of the 8 years of translating other devotional songs that preceded this particular work.

For me - the publication of this piece was a culmination of a lifetime (or more) of study, devotion, practice and learning. And in the months after the publication came out, I believed that my whole world was going to open up. What happened instead is that I descended into a deep spiritual/mid life crisis that ripped myself and my world apart.

The breakdown began in April of 2016, got progressively worse through the summer of 2016, and began to seriously "bottom out" in the fall of 2016. What I understand now that I didn't understand then was that a phase of my life had completed. And it was time to change. Come out of my "Dharmic Ivory Tower" as one friend of mine put it so succinctly.

The Universe made my life as miserable (and frankly terrifying) as possible, goading me to let go of the life I had, and who I thought I was "supposed" to be. But I fought it tooth and nail. All I could do was wonder - what the heck was happening to me? I watched helplessly as long-term friendships fell apart. As I became more and more non-functional at work. As I lost the ability to sleep for weeks on end.

On September 13, out of the blue, Patrick sent me a warm message over Facebook - checking in and asking how I was doing. I had had a dream about him a few weeks earlier, which amounted to a premonition of him coming back into my life. We began to exchange messages and chat online - two old friends, both going through a kind of mid-life review, sharing stories with each other.

(Although I did throw myself at him a little bit - being in the midst of a crisis and all. But he was a gentleman about it.)

The whole time, my emotional condition was deteriorating. In November, I checked myself into the hospital to get treated for depression. It was the single darkest, most frightening experience of my life. And some part of me wonders if there was a Cosmic reason for this - since hitting rock bottom corresponded with the 2016 US elections.

Still, I thought to myself, even if something *was* possible with Patrick, no guy was going to be interested after this.

Little did I know ...

My time in the hospital helped me to begin letting go of ideas, expectations, hopes and dreams that I had held onto about my life for years. And the funny thing is - when you begin to let go, something new and unexpected can come in.

In November of 2016, Patrick and I began chatting much more frequently. First for an hour. Then for 2 hours or more. Sometimes texting. Sometimes video chatting. And we began to talk about "what if" - what it might look like - how our lives could work together - what was important to him, what was important to me.

I had always wanted to start a relationship in a more sensible way than I had in my 20's. Having as many important conversations up front as possible before jumping in. And those first months out of the hospital gave both of us the opportunity to do just that. To ask lots of questions, and dialogue deeply, before we saw each other again.

I invited Patrick to come visit my sister's family in Florida for Christmas, and he accepted. By the end of the year, we were an "item."

He officially proposed (over video chat) on January 11 this year.

We had a beautiful engagement party at Gurumustuk Singh and Arjan Kaur's home during the first week of April - with gorgeous kirtan sung by Dev Suroop Kaur. And a lot of good wishes from friends in and around the community. I was really grateful and deeply touched by how warmly Patrick was welcomed by the community at the ashram.

And so here we are.

About to embark on this next journey of life together.

Love you, Patrick.

Thanks for reminding me how to have fun again. For bringing out the "inner geek" that I had left behind. For the great conversations, that have gotten richer and deeper with time.

Thanks for being wonderful you.



P.S.: Ek Onk Kaar Kaur Khalsa and Patrick Michaud were married in Nishkam Seva Gurdwara, Irving, Texas, USA, on Friday the 13th of October, 2017.

The family wishes the Khalsa-Michauds a blessed, long, healthy, happy life together. 

November 12, 2017


Conversation about this article

1: Farida Kaur (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), November 13, 2017, 10:48 AM.

May we all be so lucky ... and blessed.

2: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, USA), November 13, 2017, 3:05 PM.

Ek Ong Kaar ji has expressed her feelings and vehement truth with zeal and ernestness in her message. May Waheguru bless her and her husband.

3: G J Singh (Arizona.USA), November 14, 2017, 6:14 AM.

Now, that is a love story!

4: I J Singh (N. Bellmore, New York, USA), November 14, 2017, 2:44 PM.

A beautiful rendition of life. Celebrate the turns that give you a new start. All the best.

5: Bhai Harbans Lal (Dallas, Texas, USA), December 08, 2017, 12:56 AM.

I too have known Ek Ongkaaar Kaur for the past two decades. Then I had the pride of privilege of participating in Ek Ong Kaar’s Anand Karaj, along with Inni Kaur of SIKHRI. During the days of preparation for the wedding, I also got to know her husband, Patrick Michaud. I found the ceremony very inspiring and their story very touching. I wish them best of the time to enjoy the householder's life in living together in their home in a family surrounding. Guru Nanak guided us so.

6: Gurpreet Singh (India), January 12, 2018, 10:30 PM.

I am touched reading your story, Ek Ong Kaar Kaur ji, and as you rightly said, "Life is what happens to you in the most unexpected situations". Very happy to find you back with your old and best friend Patrick and wishing you and Patrick all the best for your future!

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Prem Kahani - Love Story"

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