“Someone can be madly in love with you and still not be ready. They can love you in a way you have never been loved and still not join you on the bridge. And whatever their reasons you must leave. Because you never ever have to inspire anyone to meet you on the bridge. You never ever have to convince someone to do the work to be ready. There is more extraordinary love, more love that you have never seen, out here in this wide and wild universe. And there is the love that will be ready.”
– Nayyirah Waheed
I find Waheed’s words compelling.
I don’t love the ending of this quote in terms of romantic love because it’s too easy to reduce all advice into “someone amazing is out there for you” when romance isn’t necessarily a top priority for everyone (and a great one might not happen next week or in 10 years). I respect and admire my single friends. They generally agree that the “He’s out there for you, just stop looking” and soulmate type of advice is cloying, tone deaf, and unrealistic. (oh, and cliche).
That said; I like this poetry — the visual of the bridge, the mandate to not settle for something even if there is beauty there — even if there is love there — and the embracing of finding extraordinary love (family, friends, romance).
Yesterday was my third wedding this Fall, and there was joy, there was peace; there was anticipation of a long full life together, of shared families, memories, and love. All of the weddings were different; they were different sizes in different spaces with different worldviews — but they were all thoughtful markers of a commitment to love and share and be.
My uncle told me that he enjoys going to weddings with my aunt because they are always reminded of how magical love is. He’s also big on funerals, inspired by Deirdre Sullivan’s advice.
There are many wedding-funeral parallels: ending a life, starting a new one, family reunion, celebration of memories, the very act of commemorating a significant moment through a ritual of shared words, songs, community. As Tevye says: “Tradition!”
Weddings are harder now. They are now significant moments that my mom will never witness. They are forward motion into a world that is different than the one she inhabited. There are weddings of people she didn’t know, and these alter the world in ways that might not have touched her, but the forward motion — without her — is there. And there are the weddings of people she knows. She never had married nieces. She won’t see my sister get married this summer, or meet my children.
Grief, like love, has so many shared metaphors and universal moments, even as it’s processed so individually. There’s the ball and box metaphor: there’s a pain button in an enclosed box and there is a ball bouncing around hitting that pain button.
“In the beginning, the ball is huge. You can’t move the box without the ball hitting the pain button. It rattles around on its own in there and hits the button over and over. You can’t control it – it just keeps hurting. Sometimes it seems unrelenting.”
“Over time, the ball gets smaller. It hits the button less and less but when it does, it hurts just as much. It’s better because you can function day to day more easily. But the downside is that the ball randomly hits that button when you least expect it.” (Lauren Herschel).
I think (and perhaps I’m wrong), that early or surprising deaths create a ball that shrinks to a final size that is relatively larger.
I think there should be a word for “very fast and very slow” to describe time. I assume the Germans have one. Six months has sped by at a snail’s pace. When I talk about my mom, it’s mostly past tense now. Present tense lingered for a while; I think it’s fair to say that my mom loves tea, her grandchildren and wearing five shades of pink. I don’t think she’ll ever stop loving those things.