When I turned down my brother’s invitation to join him & my sister-in-law for breakfast, a lot of my friends were deeply disappointed in me. I had turned away love, shut the door on family relationship. A lot of other people felt sorry for me, that our relationship was so tattered. And a few understood.
One of the greatest challenges I’ve faced ALL of my life is an inclination to accept what’s presenting itself in front of me, rather than ignoring the “what seems to be” for the “what I long for.” And I am very quick to acknowledge that all I can consider is what appears to be presenting itself to me, which might be wildly different from what registers with others.
When John & I walk the Pennypack Trail, what’s on my radar are the changing colors of the leaves, the sounds of the creek burbling next to us, the fall of light on the trees; John’s noticing the rustling ground cover, wondering if it is an animal, or checking out a squirrel making a mad dash up a tree or a chipmunk scampering across the trail. Yet we are walking on the exact same pathway, in the exact same amount of light, our steps more or less in the exact same stride.
In my book, it was a kindness to decline the breakfast invitation. I am still the same person I was 10, 20, 40+ years ago – still the person Kerry experienced as unbearably rude & hurtful. She might have hoped I’d be different, but seems to me a certainty that I’d be just as cluelessly aggravating in 2017 as in 1972 et al.
Am so glad that I went with my heart – that said “Protect!” – instead of my head, which argued, “Take the chance.” I have no idea if Kerry considered me still as rude & hurtful as she remembered or if she understood my why. What she thinks about me is none of my business. But I am forever grateful that she & Mike left me with a wondrous gift – a fresh perspective on what it is to love.
Turns out that people have wildly different experiences & expectations of “to love.” Friends from families filled with loving, or who’ve longed for their own sibs to reach out, my actions were heartbreaking. Those who’ve tried to figure out how to make relationships work, only to discover that inherent dynamics in the various players make it downright impossible, saw my regrets as realistic loving. Others, repeatedly burned by loved ones who apparently hadn’t a clue, considered I showed sweetly swaddling – protective of all – love.
Mike & Kerry have my deepest thanks for first shocking & deeply distressing me – unintentionally, I am absolutely sure – then providing an opportunity for me to face an ancient negative energy in a new positive way. With all the emotional stuff & nonsense dropped away, what I’m left with on this beautiful October day are feelings of tenderness, compassion & mercy toward two people who continue to hold special roles in my life.
If that’s not “to love,” I don’t know what is.