For Gary Hayward, life has been a battle for the past three years.
After losing his husband, Andy Stevens, in 2019 he had to close down their beloved business The Buddha Shop amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
He was left heartbroken by the death of Mr Stevens, who was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and motor neurone disease.
The journey of "sadness and 'strength" has given Mr Hayward the courage to reopen his Yackandandah store after expressing "that's what Andy would have wanted".
"I made a pledge of honour for Andy, 'that the bears old wares keep trading', and I'm going to keep going," he said.
"The shop has been a part of my life and world for 25 years.
"I lost Andy three years ago, so it's time to remember the great times and move on."
The store will reopen next Saturday, June 25. While Mr Hayward has been running an online store independently, he is keen to have a shopfront.
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"I've been so busy online with 1.2 million people visiting my site and hundreds of orders. I can't even keep up with that ... but trying my best," he said.
Mr Hayward and Mr Stevens become partners in 1999. Soon afterwards, they opened up their first store in Wodonga, followed by the Albury store.
"The 12 years we operated from Albury, we had met some amazing people and were able to help many from all walks of life, cultures and beliefs," he said. "After Andy passed away, it was crippling sadness and a struggle to keep running the two stores and online business. I've wondered if I could even open again.
"But I have made up my mind, I'm ready to start my new journey again."
Outside of running his store, Mr Hayward has created a sustainable lifestyle on his farm, planting 4500 trees and growing his own vegetables. He hopes to keep living a "healthier lifestyle".
"I've learnt a lot over the pandemic; my store has evolved into a great place to find some peace and love in this crazy world," he said.
"I'm working on my own meditation music for the shop and have also been in touch with a band in Sydney about writing a song on my journey and how to keep going when your world has been turned upside down.
"We have one shot at life on a planet billions of years' old. our time on it is short; do what you can to bring peace in your life and try and find some compassion through its ruthless hardships."
He especially treasures a message sent to him by Andy.
"I want you to live on in peace and remember our great times and magical achievements. I'm so proud of you. Loving you is so easy."
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