Posted by: carolyn / through a widow's eyes | February 20, 2012

On Falling (out of a clear blue sky)


I recently read a passage that resonated deeply, and had some time to contemplate it, these last few isolated days at sea. It is the truest thing I  ever read about love, from Carol Gilligan’s Kyra, a novel about the power of love to hurt us and the power of love to heal those wounds and redeem us.”:

On Love:

“It’s the deepest kind of knowing, and that can drive you mad. It can make you feel crazy, but this crazy feeling is not love. Love is something you know with someone. It’s hard to explain, but you know it in your body. It’s like it happens in your cells; your cells and their cells recognize one another. You can’t make it happen or make it not happen, which also drives some people crazy. “

While my husband was dying, I would find myself crying any time I came anywhere near the truth. Tears came to be how I knew I had stumbled upon something important or authentic, be it happy or sad. Over time I am learning to attend to my cells’ signals, to recognize that my body knows certain truths that my mind just doesn’t comprehend or may not even welcome.

Blog post on this to follow. Naturally.

•••

On Falling  (out of a clear blue sky)

I never saw it coming.

By all accounts, neither did he.

Certainly neither of us was searching, and even more certainly, not for each other. He was single and happy, comfortable in his own skin and in his little house, the life he had built for himself. I was a very “empty nester”: widowed after a long marriage, mom of college girl. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I was happy, but… recovering. Starting to become accustomed to this new life after cataclysmic changes, settling in to being alone. Looking forward to it, actually, after being partnered nearly all my adult life. Starting to try to figure out what was to come next.

We had been a couple for some months in high school. Broke up. Got back together briefly and unremarkably at graduation. Drifted apart again without saying goodbye or looking back. (A minor recurring theme of mine, I notice suddenly, on typing this.) He had left our home state for warmth, work, and music immediately after graduation, as he had always sworn he would.

Thirty three years  – a lifetime –  went by before we reconnected along with a gaggle of other school pals on Facebook, as our generation apparently is wont to do. A few lovely, long letters passed between us in the months after my husband died. There was no spark: just kindness, catching up, some nostalgic affection, and a perfunctory kind of caring.

Then his mother passed away suddenly. That kind of deep wrenching grief, I already knew, and more. One thing death has taught me: if you are wondering whether you should pay your respects, you already have your answer. Yes, you should. So I did.

In attendance at the wake was a knot of school friends all hovering somewhere around our fiftieth birthdays. We are adults now, and no longer young. We have all known sorrow and pain. He was deeply hurting, and it manifested as mania. Although sad for his and his family’s loss of that great lady, for him I felt nothing.

A few nights later four or five of our friends from school met at a bar. We two talked at length, our heads close together to be able to hear in the noisy club. Later, knowing our history, someone playfully pushed us together, remarking, “You two might as well kiss and get it over with.”  (Thank you, S.G.)

So I kissed him. Once. Hard. On the mouth. Then we both laughed, embarrassed. Loudly, I declared, “I am not going to sleep with you, so just forget it.” He accepted my brazen egocentric comment with gentlemanly grace and equanimity. (Who said he even wanted to? No one.)

The next evening our gang had plans to meet for drinks and dinner. I am still not convinced by the excuses of the others who demurred. It turned out to be just the two of us going. I wondered how soon I could leave without being rude.

As he gallantly escorted me into the elegant restaurant, his hand lightly cupped my elbow, as if we knew each other well. It was an odd sensation, but not unpleasant. We sat, ordered a cocktail. Started talking. And laughing. And talking. And sharing stories and bites of the delicious meal. And talking.

And we have not stopped yet. Even though we live 1700 miles apart. For now.

“A total surprise. THIS is happening? It felt inevitable.  It sounds trite, but everything lightened, as if gravity had released us from its grip.”

 

I felt a sensation starting that night which I’ve never felt before and cannot explain. It was a kind of loosening, a kind of letting go. A tension I did not even know I had been holding started to ease. My bruised and broken heart started to stir, and soften, and the tightly clenched fist that had been holding it protectively, safely deep inside, started to relax. I felt myself falling.

But it was the easiest, most trusting kind of falling. The kind with no fear of what danger may wait at the bottom.

“”I have just taken a leap off a dock.” 

“But Kyra, you know how to swim.””

So there ends Part I of The Story of S & C: In Which It Begins.

Someday, perhaps, Part II: In Which We Kick It Into Second.

Don’t worry, honey. Part III: Moet & Chandon, Banh Mi, & Rose Petals is just for us.

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Responses

  1. I counted 3 hearts in the wake. But there may be more…I’m no expert at these things.

    Like

  2. […] S.  We had not seen each other in 33 years. Inexplicably, unexpectedly, we fell in love, out of a clear blue sky, nearly […]

    Like

  3. That’s an astute answer to a tricky quetison

    Like


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