Thanksgiving (or Fortunate Enough to Hurt)
If you’re lucky, once in a lifetime a love comes along that shakes you to the very center of your being. If you are lucky enough to have been afflicted with such a love, you must acknowledge that one result will be that time will speed up. There is a phenomenon known as Vierordt’s Law, which states that short-term time is overestimated and long-term time is underestimated. In short, days seem to last incredibly long and years fly by. This can be best summed up in an example. When the kids were first born, everyone we met told us to enjoy these times because time would quickly pass. At the time, all I wanted was one good night’s sleep. That was 21 years ago, and I finally understand what those wise people meant.
Now I suffer from another phenomenon, hiraeth, which is a Welsh word meaning “homesickness for a place you can never return to.” It is when you lose that special person that these two phenomena fuse in a pain we simply call grief. Time has slipped away, and we cannot go back to that happier, simpler time. It is simplistic to suggest that one has a choice to appreciate the time spent with that great love or to begrudge the time stolen by disease. To choose the former is to ignore the heart-wrenching hiraeth felt by the loss. To select the latter is to ignore the joy of a lifetime spent in Vierordt’s miasma. Rather, it is reasonable to expect to experience both options (often within the same day). To acknowledge both the joys spent with a great love and the pain of their loss is the price of having such a great love. To easily overcome such a loss indicates that the love was not as interwoven into your soul as you thought. To find the loss debilitating at times means a genuine, deep love and an equally devastating loss.
And so, today I must give thanks for both the time I had and the pain I feel now because I now know I cannot have had one without the other without preceding her in death.
There was a time when I was alone and happy to be so. At least I thought I was happy. What I was was lonely and determined that I didn’t need anybody. High school friends were off doing things I was not comfortable doing (drinking, drugs) and I was unwilling to give up that kind of self-control.
Now I find that I am lonely and determined that I do need people. However, after spending a lifetime eschewing friendship as an unnecessary protuberance of my streamlined and happy life, I find myself without friends when I need them most. I have many acquaintances, genuine and sincere, but no friends. It is my own doing and based on the platform that I had married my best friend so any more friends would be superfluous. Besides, I was not bright enough or socially sophisticated enough to handle more than one friend. Now she is gone, and I am both alone and lonely, left to my thoughts and memories. I miss her so much. And I acknowledge that I must suffer this great pain because I have such wonderful thoughts and memories.
To all of my acquaintances, I wish you a happy Thanksgiving and hope you appreciate, most importantly, your family and friends. Thanksgiving is a day to appreciate those who have given you so much, especially love.