Lost and Found

“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world, remains and is immortal.” -Albert Pike

The other night I sat with a friend of mine who recently lost his wife to SUDE (Sudden, Unexpected Death from Epilepsy). We cried and talked for hours about nothing but the tragedy of it all. And I decided, I’m exactly the kind of person you want to have around when you’re mourning because I will listen to and internalize your pain and devastation as if it is my own. Needless to say, I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. We sat there and watched videos of her, looked through pictures, listened to songs that were special to them both. He told me stories of their life together and explained what her last few days in the hospital were like. Sarah, his wife, was an amazing person. She was active in the community, always doing things to help others. And she was young–29. They wanted to buy a house, have babies and grow old together. And that’s exactly what they would have done had Sarah survived her last epileptic seizure and god willing. They were absolutely, 100% committed to being together. Forever. And they were perfect for eachother, crazy about eachother. So to see someone go through that sort of loss is just… fucked up. There’s really no other way to put it. I tried. And that’s the best I came up with. It’s fucked up to lose someone you love that much so suddenly and so early. They were married four short years. And now my friend has the rest of his life to live with the fact that the love of his life has vanished into thin air. Poof. Gone. Just like that.

It’s amazing how fast it all begins and just how quickly it can end. On the one hand, I’m ridden with sorrow for my friend. On the other, I envy what he had with his wife of four years that I have yet to find and perhaps never will. After spending an evening with someone lamenting the love and eternal bond between he and his wife (“As long as we both shall live” he repeated), it’s hard to imagine being loved that much by someone, feeling that connected to another human being. And I hate feeling jealous of someone going through this. Because I certainly don’t envy what he’s going through now. We see cherished others as extensions of ourselves. So to feel them slip away is to feel a part of ourselves is missing. It is a simple inevitability and yet it is one we are rarely ever content with.

Loss. So far, the Universe has proved that there could not be life without it. No joy without sorrow. No pleasure without pain. No love without hate. Yet it’s one of the hardest realities to deal with. It’s certainly the hardest reality I’ve ever had to deal with. When it comes to loss you really have to push it out of your mind, pretend it doesn’t exist in order to simply get through your day. But one must be careful of the danger in not allowing themselves to grieve properly. It’s easy to lose touch with the world around us and become disenchanted by the love and beauty we’ve been blessed with. It’s easy to push love away when we’re convinced of nothing but the idea that we’ve been wronged.

But to see the other side of things, to be on the other side, to witness the beginning transform into an end, an end into a beginning, is to hold the key to all our grief. It’s just hard connecting those dots at times. It’s easier to blame our unhappiness on whatever loss we’ve endured in our lives. And it’s almost natural to want the people closest to us to suffer the pain we feel from that loss. If we’re not happy, why should they be? When an ultimate source of love is taken away, it becomes more difficult to love others the way we might have otherwise been so inclined.

What inquiring minds such as mine want to know is, Where does everything go? When someone suddenly stops loving the one person they promised to love forever, where does that love go? When someone leaves this world, when they die, where do they go? What do they cross over and what are they suddenly on the other side of? I realize religion has tried for centuries to explain this great mystery with stories and anecdotes, gods and demons. And while one is just as probable as another I suppose, I still can’t help but wonder… Is there like a cosmic lost and found where we go to check in once we’re dead? Are we more than our bodies? I think science has proved this is so. Are we more than our minds? Is it possible to continue to experience life beyond death? And if so, what new meaning does life suddenly hold for us? Is it truly possible to be cosmically tied to another human being? Just what the fuck is going on is basically what I want desperately to know.

But since I can’t ever know as long as I’m alive, I suppose I must put my quandaries to rest by putting my faith in the only thing that’s given me a reason to live: Love. I don’t know what’s happening out there in the Universe, why I’m here or how I got here. I don’t know where I’ll go when I die (if anywhere) but I do know that while I’m here I’d be wise to make the best of things.

At Sarah’s celebration where more than a hundred people gathered to share in the recognition of the life and love she brought to the world, the walls were lined with photos of Sarah and things to remember her by. And it made me wonder, Is this what our lives boil down to? A narrative of pictures, a collection of things left for others to stifle through and fill in the blanks? We all have a choice with regards to the way we are remembered. Sarah will be remembered as being a remarkable person. How will I be remembered? How many people will be there when I’m gone? It’s a morbid thought, I realize, but one I’m sure we’ve all considered.

At the moment, I’m struggling with the loss of someone very special to me and my kids. Someone who took his love away, then refused to say goodbye. And it hurts. Because I miss my friend. And my kids do, too. He was my best friend, my number one fan. And I don’t know what to do with that empty space. I try to fill it with all I can to distract myself from the fact that he’s no longer here. But it’s like trying to nourish my body with empty calories which never quite satisfy. I know that this is all for the best. I believe this was likely our fate all along. But somehow that doesn’t make it any easier. Because I love him all the same. Even if he doesn’t share the same feelings or even think about me. Sometimes I feel like we get caught up in the pain of loss that we forget about the love that made all of that pain possible. Perhaps because it’s just easier that way.

We draw so many unnecessary lines.  This as yours, that as mine; this as love, that as hate. When really, if you stare long enough at any line, it becomes a little fuzzy. What’s right and what’s wrong are not always so obvious. Where I end and you begin is less distant than you might think. What separates the living from the dead is just one quick pulse away. We are all a part of this world and we are all just doing our best with what we’ve been given while we’re still here.

Life is short. LOVE while there’s still time, before life channels itself into the great Unknown where all is eventually lost, perhaps never to be found again. Maybe love is the only thing we can take with us when we go. I sure hope so.

http://www.sarahshope.org

(I realize many of my readers subscribe to a belief in an afterlife, whether that be a Heaven ruled by God and a Hell governed by Satan or what. So I do hope you don’t interpret my blog as a critique of your personal beliefs, though I don’t give credence to them myself. Faith is a virtue. And as long as it gets you through and it’s not hurting anyone, believe whatever the hell you want! I just ask you grant me the same respect.)

Virtual Love

For the few of those who I know actually read my blog, you may have noticed that I’ve sort of…disappeared. Well, my friends, that is because I’ve been preoccupied in a virtual world of online dating. Yes, that’s right… I’ve been dating!! Dating people I don’t even know! Why would I do this to myself?! Number one, I’ve always hated dating (for a number of reasons). Number two, what if I don’t like them? What if they don’t like me? Rejection sucks and I’m afraid I’ve had my fill. But putting the breaks on something that someone else sees as a potentially ideal relationship sucks, too. And I suppose I’ve done my fair share of that, as well. Yet here I am, trying my luck. And I must say, four weeks into it and I’m exhausted!

Online dating, I’m realizing, requires some finesse, a lot of self-awareness, and a ton of patience. But knowing how to read between the lines is incredibly helpful in saving yourself some time. My inbox is full of messages I will never respond to. And that’s okay. That’s how you play the game. If I expended all my energy on every person who tried to holla I’d be drained by the time someone worth my energy came along. In fact, if you’re strategic enough in virtual dating, you can review profiles and know in a matter of minutes whether that person is even worth a ‘hello’. On the dating site I belong to they ask a series of questions dealing with a variety of topics like sex, drugs, politics, religion, race and gender. I have found this to be extremely useful in sifting through the overwhelming number of possible matches. Anyone who is super conservative and religious, seems to prioritize sex, spends much of their time getting wasted, or holds racist/sexist beliefs is immediately eschewed. And so, I’ve actually been out with a couple of suitors and I’m enjoying my time immensely!

And yet… I wonder. How legitimate could any bond be that was sort of forced into being? Traditionally, a relationship begins after meeting someone in person first, feeling their energy, sensing an attraction, and going from there. Finding out the things you have in common are shared over time. When you meet someone virtually, however, you’re basically submitting a resume to be reviewed and scrutinized by an unknown party who will then make assumptions about you based on the few things you’ve shared which may or may not be an accurate reflection of who you are as a person. And yet that is what people expect to know in the brief description you provide. You can see that a person is interested in some of the same pastimes or has similar tastes in movies, music, television, books. But how much does all of that really matter? You can’t know how they’re going to make you feel just by the way they look at you. You can’t know whether they’re going to get your sense of humor or whether they have the ability to see past your defenses.

So far, I’ve met two really good candidates. But is that what it comes down to? In this sense, our dates really are like interviews in which I’m contrasting and comparing both applicants to figure out who should win out. Because I’m only looking for one person to fill the job. The “job” being a partnership with someone who I could not only consider a lover, but a best friend.. someone to cherish and grow old with.. someone willing to sweat it out when the going gets tough.. someone who longs to feel a part of something bigger, something special, like a family. And I think, besides those just looking for sex, anyone on a dating website wants the same thing more or less. But it’s difficult to come out and say that because you don’t want to appear desperate for love and companionship. You don’t want to scare anyone off or place too many expectations on a relationship that hasn’t yet begun.

In fact, I think what I struggle the most with in terms of discovering my “perfect” match online is, how natural is it to find real love and happiness with someone when meeting them for the first time is with the expectation or hope of partnering with them eventually? Under no other circumstances do people place that much pressure on a relationship to be what it isn’t (unless you’re into arranged marriages and such). As a single person, under normal provisions, when meeting someone else for the first time, one doesn’t automatically assume that person might be their soulmate. The possibility of asking a person out doesn’t normally occur until there’s been an opportunity to get to know them, in person, in a real world, real life setting. So even while getting to know someone who you’ve met online there is this presumption that looms over the budding relationship, pushing people in a direction of being together even if it doesn’t feel quite right.

And while dating online means that I am now in a constant state of tug-of-war with people suddenly interested in spending time with me, in some ways I feel lonelier than ever. But that’s because I’m terrified of the unknown. I’m terrified that I will invest all this time getting to know someone and eventually find out that, oh yeah, by the way, they murder puppies in their spare time. Or they have a collection of doll hair in a shoebox they keep discretely tucked away under their bed. Or, more realistically, they aren’t as committed to the relationship as they had led me to believe. They’re liars. Cheaters. Porn addicts. They appear to be family oriented but as it turns out they’re more invested in their careers. And moreover, dating and getting to know strangers is a lonely process because I know there is still so much of me they have yet to uncover. And I wonder if they ever could, if they would ever want to, if I would ever let them. And I just want this stage to be over. I just want to be in that place where everything comes naturally and I feel at liberty to be myself with someone.

And yet I’m willing to see where all of this goes. Because do I really know what finding true love is supposed to feel like? If I did, I’m not sure I would be here. I’m not sure I would keep falling over and over for people who make empty promises, people clearly not willing or able to put in a good fight. So how will I know? I’m still waiting for the answer because it’s one of the few things you can’t find on the internet.