I don’t know if you’ve ever had one of those phone conversations where you can hear the tears, the pain, the fact that the person on the other end of the phone is going to go cry when this conversation is over.
The worst is when you know that something you said in your own pain is what is causing the tears and the frustration on the other end of the line.
As this is a pretty public domain, I dare not say too much that might be midconstrued as instability in any way, but it’s been a hellishly rough year thus far. Lose your car, your job, your freedom, your independence, your future, and your right arm (along with half a pizza) in a puff of airbag dust sometime, it isn’t the best way to spend an afternoon.
But then, really, any afternoon that begins with a car crash, followed by screaming in pain in Spanish like a crazy woman while in the middle of a busy intersection, all in your pajamas in-front of two totaled cars? That afternoon probably isn’t going to end well.
(And the pizza thing is probably going to tick me off forever)
I love life, I just don’t happen to love my life right now.
I remarked variously that the one thing I’m looking forward to the most about heaven is that I won’t have to move anymore. I tell you what, the constant moving rented rooms can bring has really made me a lot softer on the Israelites who left Egypt, took one look at their new life, and decided to cop the “This is insane, let’s go back to Egypt!” attitude. I get it — better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.
I just don’t have what it takes to Lone Ranger it through life, but there are various dear saints in my life among my friends who want St. Val to make it. I count them dear and precious and belovèd, even as I can’t think as well of myself as they do.
For more than half my life, the words of a dear friend have helped drive me…tearful, frustrated, “Don’t you get it, please don’t do this” kind of words and haunt me still. Her words were what I was being completely selfish, and that if I didn’t want my life, to give it to her.
I’ve long been mindful of that conversation, and challenged by it.
But here’s the thing…
Last year I found out that friend died over ten years ago (which explains a lot). That news sent me for a loop, because it is at that point when “eternally separated from God” starts to mean something very, very, very dark.
A similar level of desperation that led to the conversation where my friend spoke those words seventeen years ago slsmmed me hard last Friday afternoon. And what occurs to me this morning is that my friend is not here to speak those desperate words to me now…or ever…because she is gone.
I can’t give her my life, she is gone…forever.
Which poses an interesting question — one for which I don’t actually have an answer:
Am I released from my obligation of giving my life to her because she is gone, or am I now bound with a double-portion of embracing life/living/giving/serving/loving because she can no longer carry her own torch?
I have no answers to this.
Her life was hard-fought and hard-lived, very broken, very lonely…but not without love and joy. A different friend remarked to me back in 2009 (when everything about my life blew up when the economy melted down) that one of the things that amazed her most about me was that — in-spite of everything — I could still love.
I think my very much missed, gone forever friend was the one who taught me how that could work: what does it look like to live a life with room for love when — by all rights — all capacity for love in your soul should have been beaten out of you years ago?
Do I now hold a cup full of a double portion of life — my own, plus the life she didn’t get to finish?
I am thinking about this…