Monthly Archives: January 2012

Courage And Love

loverWalking down a path through some woods in Georgia, I saw a water puddle ahead on the path. I angled my direction to go around it on the part of the path that wasn’t covered by water and mud. As I reached the puddle, I was suddenly attacked! Yet I did nothing for the attack was so unpredictable and from a source so totally unexpected. I was startled as well as unhurt, despite having been struck four or five times already. I backed up a foot and my attacker stopped attacking me. Instead of attacking more, he hovered in the air on graceful butterfly wings in front of me. Had I been hurt I wouldn’t have found it amusing, but I was unhurt, it was funny, and I was laughing. After all, I was being attacked by a butterfly!

Having stopped laughing, I took a step forward. My attacker rushed me again. He rammed me in the chest with his head and body, striking me over and over again with all his might, still to no avail. For a second time, I retreated a step while my attacker relented in his attack. Yet again, I tried moving forward. My attacker charged me again. I was rammed in the chest over and over again. I wasn’t sure what to do, other than to retreat a third time. After all, it’s just not everyday that one is attacked by a butterfly. This time, though, I stepped back several paces to look the situation over. My attacker moved back as well to land on the ground. That’s when I discovered why my attacker was charging me only moments earlier. He had a mate and she was dying. She was beside the puddle where he landed.

Sitting close beside her, he opened and closed his wings as if to fan her. I could only admire the love and courage of that butterfly in his concern for his mate. He had taken it upon himself to attack me for his mate’s sake, even though she was clearly dying and I was so large. He did so just to give her those extra few precious moments of life, should I have been careless enough to step on her. Now I knew why and what he was fighting for. There was really only one option left for me. I carefully made my way around the puddle to the other side of the path, though it was only inches wide and extremely muddy. His courage in attacking something thousands of times larger and heavier than himself just for his mate’s safety justified it. I couldn’t do anything other than reward him by walking on the more difficult side of the puddle. He had truly earned those moments to be with her, undisturbed.

I left them in peace for those last few moments, cleaning the mud from my boots when I later reached my car.

Since then, I’ve always tried to remember the courage of that butterfly whenever I see huge obstacles facing me. I use that butterfly’s courage as an inspiration and to remind myself that good things are worth fighting for.

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Posted by on January 25, 2012 in Love



I See Him In Dreams Sometimes

Then, I would never have believed that ten years after we split I would still think of him. The scientist in me is always surprised to rediscover this fact: That a person can truly be broken. Forever. There is no “It was for the best” here; no hard earned wisdom that I am glad I came by. Our split was simply a complete and utter destruction of my person. Life can be that way. Eventually you have to move on; Life, again, compels you. And, after all, I wanted to be happy again. So, you pick up what’s left, reinvent what isn’t and go cats

I think the specter of our breakup has changed me far more than our

relationship. Away from the warm glow of naivete, the memories of us seem trite. It is true that only we assign meaning to our experiences. On paper they mean nothing. We went camping with my family. I snuck clandestine visits to his house after school. He biked out to my house in the middle of the night. We hung out with his friends. He got the chicken pox. We made out in the hallways at school and passed notes. We drove – a lot, we drank some, we smoked pot once. And of course we had sex, my first. We were in going to be married, you see.

Mostly, we had no fear. We talked about ourselves, our dreams, our

childhoods, our parents. Each discussion was a wonderful opening, with no fear of what we might discover or lose. Every fact, every feeling shared was a precious thing to be cherished and savored. Our universe did not understand the possibility of loss.

Eventually, there was another. There always is in these stories. She took him away with a kiss. To explain the complete and utter vacancy of the following months would be difficult. At least there were tangible side effects: the loss of 25 pounds, the withdrawal, the tears, and tears, and tears. To this day I have not replenished them. Only after I rebuilt myself did he want me back. But the me had that had been was lost.

It is more than ten years later. The person he missed hasn’t returned. I don’t think she will. I look for her sometimes, in boxes of old things, but she is never there. The beach is my place now. It is small consolation for a lost self. I know now that our relationship was far from perfect. I know what he has done with his life, and what I have done with mine, and logically, I understand them to be incompatible. What I really miss is the me that didn’t consider such things.

I see him in dreams sometimes. We approach, we talk; we are never

lovers. In my dreams we travel asymptotic paths; never crossing, almost touching, our current lives the tiny infinite gap between us. I like my life now. It makes me happy. But above all, I can never forgive him. It’s not that he was perfect. It’s not that we were perfect. It’s simply that he was my Everything, and he chose to leave.

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Posted by on January 11, 2012 in Love



If You Love Her Enough

My friend John always has something to tell me. He knows so much that young men have to have older and more worldly wise men to tell them. For instance who to trust, how to care for others, and how to live life to the fullest.

Recently, John lost his wife Janet. For eight years she fought against cancer, but in the end her sickness had the last word.lover

One day John took out a folded piece of paper from his wallet. He had found it, so he told me, when he tidied up some drawers at home. It was a small love letter Janet had written. The note could look like a school girl’s scrawls about her dream guy. All that was missing was a drawing of a heart with the names John and Janet written in it. But the small letter was written by a woman who had had seven children; a woman who fought for her life and who probably only had a few months left to live.

It was also a beautiful recipe for how to keep a marriage together.

Janet’s description of her husband begins thus: “Loved me. Took care of me. Worried about me.”

Even though John always had a ready answer, he never joked about cancer apparently. Sometimes he came home in the evening to find Janet in the middle of one of those depressions cancer patients so often get. In no time he got her into the car and drove her to her favourite restaurant.

He showed consideration for her, and she knew it. You cannot hide something for someone who knows better.

“Helped me when I was ill,” the next line reads. Perhaps Janet wrote this while the cancer was in one of the horrible and wonderful lulls. Where everything is — almost — as it used to be, before the sickness broke out, and where it doesn’t hurt to hope that everything is over, maybe forever.

“Forgave me a lot.”

“Stood by my side.”

And a piece of good advice for everyone who looks on giving constructive criticism as a kind of sacred duty: “Always praising.”

“Made sure I had everything I needed,” she goes on to write.

After that she has turned over the paper and added: “Warmth. Humour. Kindness. Thoughtfulness.” And then she writes about the husband she has lived with and loved the most of her life: “Always there for me when I needed you.”

The last words she wrote sum up all the others. I can see her for me where she adds thoughtfully: “Good friend.”

I stand beside John now, and cannot even pretend to know how it feels to lose someone who is as close to me as Janet was to him. I need to hear what he has to say much more than he needs to talk.

“John,” I ask. “How do you stick together with someone through 38 years — not to mention the sickness? How do I know if I can bear to stand by my wife’s side if she becomes sick one day?”

“You can,” he says quietly. “If you love her enough, you can.”

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Posted by on January 6, 2012 in Love