I have only just started missing people.
This morning as I run this realization appears out of the misty air. I just passed the Twizzler. I have been stomping by it for two weeks now—have watched it slowly disappear under a wave of ants. It’s down to a stub now.
That’s how I feel when people leave. A stub. Eaten away. A smaller me.
I grieve by moving inside myself. I feel lonely, but I don’t allow myself to miss people.
Missing someone means hurting. It means wanting them to come back. Believing they will.
Missing someone means believing they miss me too.
For me, loss stole a sense of trust that the world moves in predictable cycles. One day, Dad went away and never came back. Somehow, inexplicably, Mom went too. Not literally, but emotionally and mentally. Simple family cycles that could have built trust were derailed—dinner with the whole family, holidays spent side by side, evenings and mornings of family hugs. (L.L. Barkat, God in the Yard).
When I return from my honeymoon, I wake up one morning in the bed I share with my new husband. The sun streams through the window and through me and I am so happy. Suddenly, I know.
This will never last. This can’t be real. This man can’t really love me.
What he and I share resembles nothing of the love I have known thus far. The love I’m familiar with is unstable. Unfaithful. It does not honor or cherish. I don’t understand this clean, healthy love he gives me.
A season of pushing away ensues. I try to make our love what I understand. I try to make it messy. I try to make it hurt. I test his love at every turn and harden my heart—preparing for the inevitable abandon.
He never leaves. He cradles me close instead.
Lynne M. Baab, author of Sabbath Keeping notes that the Hebrew root for the word “Sabbath” includes “pause.” To pause is to trust. It is to reframe presence-absence as presence-hiddenness—a fine line of distinction that speaks to the fear of permanent loss that our early loss experiences can create. (L.L. Barkat, God in the Yard).
Growing up with an alcoholic means I develop a knack for unconditional positive regard. I learn to accept anything. Anyone can do anything, and I’m ok. The ground frequently shifts underneath me, but I must stay standing.
Everyone else can change. But I must never. I have to be vigilant. Anticipate the next earthquake. And shift my feet quickly.
I cannot allow myself to miss someone. What if they never return?
There is no rest from this constant watchfulness. There is no rest.
…childhood losses made it hard to embrace a rhythm of presence-hiddenness that exists naturally…(L.L. Barkat, God in the Yard)
My husband taught me about Sabbath rest. He taught me what it means to trust. He showed me the face of God before he even believed. He taught me how to trust that hiddenness is a partner to presence.
And I am learning that to miss someone means the joy of reunion is forthcoming. I trust in the ache of havdalah—the recognition of the departure of the visiting soul on the Sabbath. For she shall return from this hiddenness.
And the ache only increases the joy of the homecoming.
This is written in response to week 8 of L.L. Barkat’s God in the Yard: Spiritual Practice for the Rest of Us. Join me?