Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Butting up against two of the heaviest, darkest and most melancholic experiences of my life has left me with a sobering realization. It is difficult to describe this thought in a single sentence of the English language, so instead I choose to expand on what all this means to me through this post. Hopefully some meaning or greater understanding can be gleamed from all the chaos that swirls around not just me, but also you. After all, that is the very focus of what I try to accomplish with these sporadic ramblings.
No dancing around it... I am losing the love of my life, or at the very least, the love of my young adult life. Being neither religious nor traditional, it is still a wonder why I married so young (young by our modern standards). Oh yeah! I remember now. Here it goes…
Seven years ago I was suddenly whipped into a certain kind of frenzy. I remember when it all started. I was on one of my first backpacking trips with my best friend. We were in the Great Smoky Mountains, camped beside a river. A fire was eating away at some sad logs we managed to wrangle up out of the brush. I looked long and hard at the blaze when something suddenly sparked inside me. I saw the continuation of a love, the next step, the woman I wanted to turn into a wife, even if she wasn't there beside me looking at the same fire. I remember thinking how odd that it should come on like this. Regardless, I awoke the next morning and we cooked a quick breakfast, broke camp and hiked up a grueling ridge line. The physical excursion was nothing, because a new strength was building inside of me- the strength to love to the fullest extent.
Strength then gets tested and redefined some years later when the bond begins to sever. Communication breaks down as affection all but disappears. Something is off, broken, but we refuse to acknowledge it. This refusal to acknowledge turns into a refusal to fix and finally, a refusal to continue. It is truly the most bazaar confluence of emotions I have ever experienced. To love someone so deeply but to also know that it is gone, and that it left some time ago, will fill you with every emotion from A to Z, especially when the other one feels the exact same way.
Now on to this... I can’t even begin to fathom what the loss of my father will mean. All I know is that the moment seems to be approaching rapidly with every passing day. I was back in North Carolina for an entire month and watched his sharp decline. I felt as low as I possibly could, but held out hope that he would level out some. I hopped in the car and drove back to Chicago only to learn a week later that things are truly not as bright as I deluded myself into thinking. Needless to say, I am jumping on a flight in the coming days to return to my true home and the house I grew up in, but mostly to be with my dad.
So onto “strength”… I believe it speaks highly of us as sentient beings. We have the strength to endure unimaginable hardships and somehow come out alive, albeit in a broken state. What I am experiencing is the worst combination of events, but what I also realize now is this- The lowest low I can experience from loss in no way compares to the lowest low you have faced or will face in the future. We are each left with our own trials, tribulations and unfathomable losses. What rips us apart can also make us stronger and in the process we inadvertently strengthen each other.
My final point… Strength can be defined in so many different ways and I have chosen to define it from the subject’s perspective. Flip it and look at it from the object’s perspective and you find true strength. To fight against a terrible disease every step of the way, up until the final breath, is truly the fullest measure of strength. My dad is the strongest person I know and this post is really about him.