Yesterday evening I read Tim Lawrence’s blog post Everything Doesn’t Happen for a Reason. The piece was thought-provoking and there were a number of quotable segments. However, two sentences touched my heart. Their inevitability, as displayed in my own life, brought tears to my eyes and each time I stirred last night (which, these days, is often) they came to mind:
“Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.”
By nature, I am a fixer. A world class fixer. But, a number of years ago, even I had to acknowledge that some circumstances exceeded my fixing ability. So, the more I mulled these sentences today, the more I took inventory of what I hadn’t been able to fix in my life. What I carried. What I grieved.
In a few weeks I will reach the four year anniversary of the beginning of a period of intense loss in my life. I’ve written about most of those events in past blog posts, so I won’t rehash them here. Suffice it to say, however, the list of things I carry is not brief.
Of all the things I have given up, I believe I grieve one more than the others. I miss the quiet intimacy that arises when you spend significant amounts of time with someone who knows all about you. It isn’t necessarily a physical intimacy that I’m describing, although physical intimacy may coexist. Instead, it is the bond that arises with another person when he or she exists, lives, is in close proximity to your being, day in and day out. And, under my definition, this sort of relationship can only exist with an adult. As close as one might be to a child, there is a mutuality that is missing in that relationship.
As if on cue, I had a dream last night that included my ex-husband. It wasn’t particularly detailed or unusual; in fact, its sadness is exemplified by its averageness. He sat with my daughter and me in a row of seats on an airplane. I’m not sure any of us uttered a word. But, I felt comfort and closeness.
Don’t misinterpret what I have written. I don’t miss my marriage. The fact that it was profoundly harmful to me is undeniable. Especially the end, which was the functional equivalent of detonating a nuclear warhead. I do miss my mother, but not the illness that defined the last ten years of her life. Put simply, I believe unequivocally that my divorce and my mother’s death brought me closer to peace. But when you relinquish something to the Universe, you can’t pick and choose. All the pieces must be given.
And, so, the heaviest thing I carry is my aloneness. The absence of quiet intimacy with another person. And, I grieve that loss so very much.
Yes, I have friends. Amazing friends. Friends who have devoted significant amounts of time, energy and love to making my life less burdened. Recently, one loyal friend battled MRSA in the midst of preparations for the celebration of my mother’s life. Another dear friend is bringing her husband to my house tonight to fix my treadmill. He also installed my dishwasher last spring. Some call him a saint. She’s no slouch herself.
But, it’s just not the same thing.
I’m not sure whether the things we carry stay with us forever. A wise writer, philosopher friend once told me a story about carrying his luggage through a crowded airport. He was going to Miami, his favorite vacation spot, and, in his excitement, had over-packed. His carry-on bag was heavy and it was a chore to lug it to the boarding gate. As he shoved his bag in the overhead bin, he thought, “I just can’t carry you anymore.” And, with that thought in his head, he had a moment of clarity. What about burdens that were less tangible than his suitcase? Wouldn’t it be liberating to have a similar conversation with them?
“We have been together for a long time. But, I’m simply not able to carry you any longer. I am going to let you go now. And leave you with only my very best wishes.”
Beautiful words. Words that, one day, I hope to speak to the things I carry.