On Goodbyes

I am sad. It pours out of me in gasps and chokes, a geyser of emotion too strong to stopper up.

Each year it lies in wait. Quiet, tame. Masked by boredom with the details, the mundanity of every day life.

And then, as his tires crunch gravel outside the window, and the door closes solidly behind me, it rages, flares, explodes, a wounded animal that strikes out at my internal organs and bellows pain through my mouth.

I live in such a controlled society. One where big emotion is more often expressed in fiction than it is in everyday life. Or at least the everyday life that other people showcase for us. How often do we glimpse our coworkers, our grocery clerks, our bag boys taken by raw, fierce emotion?

And so it surprises me when suddenly my tame, modern emotions hearken back to more passionate times–when I wail like a wild animal, unrestrained, unmodified. As if I had only the stars and the silent trees to watch and judge–as if I had the heat of a flame to warm me and cold of a river to cool me, instead of a luke-warm space heater and burbling air conditioning unit.

It’s only in Jordan’s absence that I realize how deep his roots have penetrated. Only in the moments before we say goodbye–in feeling the rasp of his beard, the sturdy cords of muscle in his shoulders–that the crushing hugeness of my love is apparent.

It’s those moments when I realize how easily he could send me spinning off the well-trod trail I’ve chosen for my life and into the deep, dark woods.

Love that strong is a hallowed thing in our society, with its fairytale stories of True Love and Happily Ever After. But anguish is part of love, and Happily Ever After doesn’t exist.

Whenever your soul leans so heavily toward another being–whenever the preference for another person is so strong–we risk pain that goes as deep and dark as any positive emotion we possess. Because life isn’t fair, and we could–and will–lose the ones we love.

Through temporary field seasons or natural disasters or untimely death or old age or deployment or even their own depraved decisions–we will lose them. It may be for a day or a month or the rest of our lives, but goodbyes are an inevitability.

Though–I wonder if it isn’t only in the darkness of losing them that we see the true expanse of our passion. As if it’s too bright to see in the light of day, but against the tarry background of longing and need and loneliness and anguish, the details are illuminated.

When you only love yourself, you only have yourself to lose. And what real tragedy is that? Fear for a moment, and then nothing. Love nothing, and you will never have to truly lose anything.

Loving only yourself is a night without stars. The darkness of life without the brilliance of love. Better to keen and yearn and bellow with primeval love, than be silent and modern and empty.

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