This is a post from a Facebook friend that really hit close to home. Maybe someday I’ll know the gratitude of which he speaks.
It has been almost 6 months now since John and I went our separate ways. It has been the longest 6 months of my life. And, in many ways, some of the greatest growth I have ever experienced has occurred over these 6 months. Most importantly, I have learned gratitude. More on that later.
But I digress. Some history. I thought I had been in love before. I realize, now, until I met John, I had never truly been in love. It was a fast and furious love. I am sure the kind that made others scratch their heads and say slow down. It was the love I always wanted. All consuming. The kind that starts out with furious text messaging, then moves on to picture and video messaging. And then the phone calls. The first Facetime conversation. The first cross country trip to meet in person. And several months later moving in together. One person totally uprooting their life for another. That was the love. And it was intense.
We were met with several obstacles along the way. We were not deterred. Not able to spend nights together initially, John suggested we use Dropbox and watch movies together via factime. We were creative. My mailbox filled with hand written letters from thousands of miles away. Hand written? Who does that any more? Time seemed precious for many reasons. John has a stage 2 glioma brain tumor. It is still in remission thanks to years of chemo but he knows its there and the constant reminder of a daily regime of pills to thrwart off seizures makes sure he never forgets.
It was a love unlike anything I had experienced. We filled our walls of Facebook with beaming smiles and pictures of all the places we travelled. For a short time all seemed right in the world and nothing bad could happen to us.
But the novelty of something new often masks things and I had failed to notice John was homesick. He had left his entire family, friends, and job to start over with me. Perhaps I didn’t try hard enough to help him adjust. Perhaps I tried too hard. I am not sure either of us will ever know.
In February, John decided he wanted to move back home and I was not to come. It was painful news to hear. My world screeched to a halt. His world screeched to a halt. I was angry. Very angry. I had done so much for him. How could he do this to me? When we are angry we tend to think more about our sacrifices in a singular sense than the sacrifices of the couple together. Over the next few weeks many tears were shed. We cuddled. We made cutting remarks. In the end, he still left. I will never forget that Saturday morning. We hugged and kissed goodbye and I watched him leave. It was like sending a child off to college except he wasn’t coming home. I cried. I screamed. I wanted to smash things. I wanted to hurt myself. I wanted to die.
The outpouring of care and love I received from my family, friends and co-workers was incredible. Seeming strangers came out of nowhere and shared secrets and stories of their losses. It seemed everyone wanted to help. I was humbled.
I often wonder if I am a good friend to people. A good neighbor. A good son. A good employee. I only hope I have been a hundredth as supportive as so many were to me.
A young pup I had chatted with many years prior on Scruff reached out to me and shared a blog he had written about his breakup. It was raw. It was hard to read. It was painful. It was me. In this blog titled “My breakup, My body, Everything Hurts,” Alexander Cheves (https://www.facebook.com/beastlypup) discusses a book, or rather a series of short stories or musings, entitled Gratitude written by Oliver Sacks during the last months of his life as he was preparing to leave this earth due to the terminal cancer that was rapidly shutting down his body. I purchased the book on Amazon. It sat on my nightstand forever. I vowed to read it on my vacation in Fort Lauderdale. I did. It was powerful and I read it in one sitting.
Gratitude is what happens when we have accepted our fate, our lot, our situation, and we are not angry but rather thankful for all the good that has happened. Whether we are faced with our own immortality, the loss of a spouse, child, pet or other loved one, gratitude comes at the tail end of the healing process.
Gratitude is the feeling I have for originally speaking to this insightful young man who came into my life for reasons not yet fully known. For he shared a story with me with which I can relate. Gratitude is my friends and family who listened to me go on and on about my loss. Gratitude is for coming out at work to my boss and it not being a total disaster. Gratitude is knowing so many people cared about me. I never realized how many friends I had until John left. Gratitude is the world bringing me John to begin with. For he had a curiousity about the world that was unmatched by anyone I have ever met. He taught me to appreciate nature, to comb the beach for shells, to take the path less travelled in the woods, to take chances. Gratitude is knowing that John is getting back on his feet and is doing well. Gratitude is everyone that has come into my life the last 6 months. I have learned to judge less, love more, and open my heart to new experiences.
A new friend asked me this morning if I was ready to date again. I didn’t know how to answer him at first. I don’t think we ever know when the time is right. But I do know that I wish to once again love so intensely it seems foolish. I miss the “second set of eyes” (quoting Alex) that helped me see the world around me. I miss the warmth of someone next to me in bed. I miss my best friend. Am I ready to experience that again? I am. I hope I do. And I hope I can be a wonderful partner to someone some day. I forgot who sent this to me but I love it:
“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”
I hope that someday soon I will post new travel pictures that John will be a part of as my friend and for that I will have the most gratitude.