"Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance."
(From David Nicholl's One Day, p. 433)
At 6:37 Monday evening, I received the call. Chris on his cell phone. After leaving __________ at 8:16 that morning, he'd arrived, safely, in Castlegar, where his father and step-mother live. He'll be there for the next week to visit them. I was relieved to see his cell phone number on the call display.
Did I worry about him all day because I knew he'd be on the road for nine to ten hours by himself? Sure. As he pulled away from the house, I took a deep breath, and I let it out only after I knew he'd arrived at his destination safely. Who wouldn't? I have a lot invested in him. He's my life partner, the man I waited thirty-two years to find, and the sole breadwinner in our household (allowing me to devote time to my writing career).
The emotional connection is the hardest. Anyone who's read enough of these posts knows I'm as emotionally attached to this man as it's possible to be. I love him. I love what he brings to my life. I love the life we've built together. I love the idea of growing old with him. I pray I'm the first to go, so I don't know what life is like without him.
Crazy things happen in this world. Just last week, in a single issue of The Vancouver Sun, I read two tragic stories of innocent people killed in horrendous car accidents--one, because the driver of the other car was drunk; two, because the driver of the other car was high on drugs. Enough life-changing things happen on our highways without drivers being under the influence of anything.
I'm a chronic worrier. Yes, as Chris reminds me, I must stop looking at the negative all the time. I must stop anticipating something awful will happen. But how can I? Every day, people's lives are irrevocably changed when loved ones are taken from them. Every day, people find themselves in the midst of the most searing emotional pain imaginable. Every day, people are forced to find new norms that do not include others who were central to their lives before. How is it possible to go on?
Loving someone is an enormous risk. For years, I prayed to be in a relationship. I wanted to experience love. I wanted someone of my own to love. I wanted someone to love me back. I wanted to put into my reality the love I saw in movies, heard about in songs, read about in books. I wanted my own love story. I needed my own love story. I did not want to leave this life without knowing what real and true love was.
But where there is love, there is always the potential for loss and heartbreak. Every day, we are reminded of people who have lost loved ones--in books, on TV, in newspapers. Love is cut short all the time. Or maybe I should say the daily manifestation of love is cut short all the time. Because I know just because loved ones are taken away from us, our love for them doesn't die.
What loving someone else does is stretch us emotionally in ways we couldn't be stretched otherwise. I can't imagine never loving Chris. That is unfathomable. And I am so much better off as a human being for having experienced love for and from him.
I have been blessed, blessed, for the past eighteen years of my life to call Chris my friend, my partner, my soulmate. I can't think of any other word to describe it. He's been a complete and utter gift, the greatest gift I could ever have received.
Sometimes, I look at him, and I wonder how we ever met and how we remain together today. How do two people, who knew nothing about each other, who grew up in different parts of the province, who are different in age by ten years, meet and fall in love? How do those same people remain connected to each other, year-in and year-out, building a life together, creating a past and imagining a future? There's a bigger plan, dear readers, and we must believe in the existence of that plan. It's at work in our lives continuously. Have faith.
So, half of Chris's journey is over, and I'm grateful he is safe. As much as I would have liked to control everything about his trip--as I strive to control everything in our lives anyway--I can't. So, Monday morning, after I said good-bye and watched Chris drive away in the car, I put him in God's hands. I prayed He would keep him safe. I prayed He would bring him back to me in a week's time so our life together could resume. Who better to protect him than God?
That's all I can do. That's all any of us with loved ones can do. The only other option is to go crazy at the mere thought someone we love is out there in the world, away from us, where we have no influence over what happens, where we can't make at least an attempt, feeble as it might be, to protect them. That's life. That's the chance we take when we love someone with all our hearts.
I don't see there's any alternative. Not loving someone with that intensity is not an option, not for me, because that's not living. To say you've truly lived, truly fulfilled your experience as a human being on this earth, you must love someone else, as the song goes "truly, madly, deeply," despite the constant possibility the one you love can be taken away from you, at any time, by any means.
For now, when I look outside the front window of our house, I see the car is gone. And I'll see that empty space for the next week. Some people would tell me to enjoy every minute I'm by myself, because, before I know it, Chris will be back. I should live life fully when Chris and I are together, as well as when we're apart. And so I try.
But my heart awaits the moment when the car pulls up, when I see Chris get out, look at me, and smile--that warm and wonderful smile of his. When our life together begins again.