I feel lonely and so I push you away because it is not you I want. I want who you are not: my mother, my daughter, my granddaughter, my buddies.
I want “the times they used to be” to borrow the title of a children’s book by the poet Lucille Clifton. The times that used to be – when the people I hold dearest (next to you) were near. When we were all in such close proximity that we got on each other’s nerves. We do not get on each other’s nerves any more. Visits are too precious for that. We don’t know when we’ll see each other again or if. We hope that we will be together again but can’t know for sure. Who can say with certainty any more that they will see you next summer or on the next holiday? We are getting older. Our parents are aging or have passed. Some of us are getting sick. Then there are the natural disasters that can keep us apart (i.e., floods, hurricanes, ice storms) and the man-made disasters (i.e., the Oklahoma and World Trade Center bombings, the slow or no federal response to natural disasters). Whatever the cause of the disaster, they bring us to our knees and can keep us apart.
Who ever thought airline service would be suspended in the U.S. or that there’d be a time when the phone lines were down or that a major city could be nearly wiped out in this hemisphere? Who knew that the truisms and things we took for granted (for example, the wealth-building strategy of owning a home) could be nearly invalidated as principles by which to live in a few short years?
Do you remember traipsing through the airport when there were no security check-points? Do you remember walking freely into an elevator in nearly any downtown building and going to virtually any floor without having to sign in or present an ID? Do you recall when your children didn’t have to have a social security # at birth or an ID to fly? I do – I remember these times vividly from not so very long ago.
There are so many things that have happened during my lifetime… Much of the time I was not noticing them because they happened one at a time. In the past few years, it seems the barriers, challenges and uncertainty have begun to multiply. There’s more security than ever (or at least the appearance of more security) and I feel less secure, less certain than ever.
The cautions, the warnings, the check-points, the what-ifs have increased my doubts and fears. I am praying all the time and find that all this praying tests and in some ways diminishes my faith. The doubts are like a pinprick-sized leak that is slowly draining away my footing. Any trouble or “ickyness” can broaden that tiny opening and morph the slow leak into a deluge.
You ask – do you feel lonely? All the time, I answer.
I ask myself – do you feel blessed? Every day, I respond.
The tension between these simultaneous realities threatens to snap me into a dozen disparate pieces. I can’t be there and here. I can’t open my arms wide enough to put a protective hug around those I hold dearest. All I can do is pray that we lay eyes on each other again real soon.
I’ll snap out of it and keep moving forward. I will notice the beauty and love around me soon. I will not throw in the towel. I will feel connected instead of disconnected (probably at a gathering to watch the Obama speech tonight). But sometimes…sometimes…I just want to go back to the times that used to be.