So my love just came back from 2-1/2 weeks of sailing into the sun and surf of southern Mexico. It was hard for me, very hard. I missed him, I was sad. Although I went out and socialized almost every day, I still felt his absence the way an amputee might feel the absence of a limb. It hurt. I got cranky, sad, depressed. I couldn't sleep. Even in my misery, I knew I was overreacting, that he was on a great adventure, that I was in his heart no matter where he was or what he was doing, and that I was surrounded by good friends and a lot of love. I knew I should be happy for him, and that he would come back to me eventually, with his twinkling eyes and the smile that tells me everything will be alright. I dredged up everything I've ever learned about being in the present moment, sitting in the pain and letting it dissolve into acceptance and joy, and still it didn't help, or would only help for a few minutes. I was anxious, couldn't concentrate, kept resisting the impulse to just go home and curl up in bed until he came back.
The second week, I barely heard from him, and got sadder and crankier as time went on. I kept trying to call but couldn't get through; there aren't a lot of cell phone towers in the ocean. Finally, midweek in the last week, I got through and he answered from the center of town, where he had just bought his plane ticket back. All my pain and sadness sat in my chest and I could barely speak. He asked what was wrong and all I could say, in an angry monotone, was how much I missed him. It was like my pain choked me and eclipsed the love and care that lay beneath it. Afterwards, I felt stupid and pathetic, being like that. What in the hell was wrong with me? I wanted to call back and apologize, but I've apologized so much to this man, that I resisted. Apologies, to my mind, are worthless if you can't promise that it won't happen again. And I knew I couldn't promise that.
So I kept the phone off (mostly) and tried as hard as I could to stay sane and centered. And then he came back, and as we got reacquainted, he told me a story.
That day, the day I called and was cranky and angry, my love saw death - not once, but three times. On the beach, with a crashing 8-foot surf, taking photos of a friend body-surfing, he heard screaming. A man was in the water, drowning, people thought. Lover, good in any emergency, dropped the camera, ran over, pulled him out of the water and gave him CPR amidst a group of screaming tourists and the man's two young, crying children. When the paramedics finally came, the man had been unconscious for over twenty minutes. He was turning blue. The EMT's took him away, and my love never was able to find out what happened to him. Telling me this, he said he could tell the man was dead as he was trying to get him to breathe. Head trauma, he thought.
There was more death, but the details aren't important. What is important is that in my compassion for this stranger, his children, and my love, who tried to save a life and couldn't, was the knowledge that, as I sat being sad to be parted from my man, two children lost a father, people somewhere lost a husband, lover, son, friend. And I was depressed because I wasn't with my man? God.
I'm trying very hard not to beat myself up too much about being so pathetic when vaster, more important things were happening. I'm hoping that this widening of my perspective, this letting go of expectation, and this deep appreciation for what I am lucky enough to have in my life right now, in the moment, will last. I know myself well enough to know it won't, not completely. But maybe I can remember it the next time things get bad in my head. Next time my brain tries to eat itself, maybe I'll see a windswept, desolate beach, and a man trying to save another man's life. And maybe I'll just relax, finally, and be able to appreciate the love and beauty around me, no matter what happens.