You will look lit from within, and lit from without

My not-so-secret garden

My not-so-secret garden

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Dear Ava,

I’ve been thinking about you lately. I remember sitting across from you at the diner, and you were full of questions for me. You were confused. You were unsure of what to do next. You didn’t know if you should stay with him or if you should leave. You looked at me with your large, lost, wide eyes. I could see an earnestness in you. You wanted to do the right thing, but you didn’t know where to start; you didn’t know where to begin.

Here’s what I want to tell you.

If you decide to take this path, to leave him, and to go out into the world on your own, it will be very, very difficult.

But the thing you will learn is that the difficult part is not making the change or of ending things. The difficult part is what happens afterwards. I’m not going to lie to you. It will be painful. Excruciatingly so. You will have memories of how you used to be together, like how he ate his pasta, or how he sometimes cocked his head to the side when he listened to you speak. You’ll remember those unassuming moments when you stood in front of the bathroom mirror and he placed his hand on the small of your back. There will come a time when you stand in front of that same mirror and you’ll remember the touch of his hand and you’ll feel the absence of it, and it will batter you open; it will batter you wide open. But it will not destroy you.

I want you to remember this.

You have friends and family who you can talk to you. They’ll take you out for dinner, laugh and cry with you; you will feel loved. Sometimes people will do the smallest thing like save you the last bit of honey for your tea, and you will feel your heart fill. Sometimes it will be almost more than you can possibly bear. But you will bear it. Just those pure simple acts of kindness from people — it will batter you open.

And sometimes when you go for walks, the sky will light up with a light so harsh at times and so beautiful, and the wind will pick up, people will walk by laughing and talking and you will be so far away from them but so close to them at the same, you will feel as if you are part of everything. It will be painful. It will hurt so much. Your heart will ache and ache.

Maybe you’ll see a small sign at the edge of a park that reads “nature trail.” You’ll walk past it, and the entrance will dip into an almost surreal world. You will walk these intertwining paths almost every day. Perhaps there will be a babbling stream, shallow water and rocks, a wooden bridge, and endless leaves of yellows and reds will pirouette from the sky. Perhaps the ground will be blanketed with autumn leaves and foliage that crunch beneath your boots. It will be your not-so-secret garden.

You may even look out over an expanse of trees, or you may be sheltered within a canopy and the light, the light, will come streaming down, and you will feel breathless, alive; you will feel time moving; you will feel the movement of time and how random and passing and fleeting and beautiful it all is; and your heart will ache; it will just ache and ache.

But then gradually, without you noticing it, the pain will lessen. The memory of his hand on the small of your back will not rip you open. The song that played while you cooked pasta together will not make you ripe with pain; it will not double you over. You’ll remember how sometimes he would say your name aloud and the sound would make you stop short. You’ll remember the look he gave you of reprimand and of kindness. His compassion would have floored you. That memory, that look, that single word — your name spoken aloud by someone who loved you — it will no longer batter you open.

Soon you will feel a lightness. The memories will reoccur less often. The dreams will wane. You will wake less often in the night; you will stop seeking solace in other people. You will not drink so much. One day, you will feel fine. Just fine. And the initial lightness will stretch; it will stretch into hours. Then into days, then into weeks. Then months, then years. And when you’ve finally learned to be alone, when you finally enjoy your own company and you wouldn’t have it any other way, you’ll meet someone new. And that person will make you laugh again. He will make you laugh until you cry. He will make your skin feel as if it were made of tissue paper. Transparent and open and light. Whatever was hiding deep inside of you will rise to the surface. You will look lit from within, and lit from without. That’s what love will do to you; it will transform you. You will be beauty intensified.

And all that has passed will seem like an apparition; it all will seem like a story you concocted, a story you told yourself to help you fall asleep. And you will be happy, you will be so utterly happy.

I send you all my love as always. And all my hope.

Your friend,

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