By Kenneth Stepp
I have a dear friend. She is inside my circle of “Real Friends”. She searched for years for her soul mate. Near misses, horrible dating stories, and many bruises along the way. She found him in a man I know only as Chip. She is amazing. I have to believe he was as well. She only had him for two months. One day they were riding on his bike planning their future together. The next day she was telling her friends that he passed away quietly in his home. She finally found love only to see love disappear. I cannot imagine what is going on in her heart and mind. Numbness would be merciful. Those of us who care about her can do nothing but be there.
My journey has been a confusing one. Just five years ago no one could have convinced me I would ever be single again. Just five weeks ago no one could have convinced me I would be single for the rest of my life. Five days ago I convinced myself I would remain so forever. Becoming single again has been a mix of experiences that for the most part has been so positive. I have met so many people who I now call my friend. That by itself makes the journey worthwhile. I have watched my friends struggle and some find the love of their life. I get to watch them enjoy life through the internet. And every now and again, talk or have lunch. It has been wonderful in that regard. In other ways, trying to actually be on the inside of a romantic relationship has been a much less rewarding endeavor. One that has brought me to the brink. If it was a ride. I guess you would say, I got off. Why would anyone just quit?
As I sit on the patio of one of my favorite local eateries enjoying some great food and Elton John singing on the stereo, it strikes me odd to be at a table for one and actually enjoying myself. It’s been a while for me. Real happiness has been elusive. Today, it has arrived for me. Resolve works that way. Decisions change lives. This one has altered my focus. Back to business, reconnecting with friends, and finding fun where I am. Not a bad life at all. A year ago today, I drove over two hundred miles round trip to have lunch with a friend. She’s an amazing forever friend I enjoyed a little time with. Totally worth the drive. I was in love with her. She didn’t know it that day. But I admitted it later. We gave “us” a try about 4 months ago and failed. At least now we know, right? This is what makes life incredible though. Not constantly meeting strangers over a salad. Although that is actually how my special friend and I met years ago. Funny how that works, isn’t it? I chose the road to find my soulmate and failed. Choices matter. I would do it all over again.
“The hardest thing about the road not taken is that you never know where it might have led.”
― Lisa Wingate, A Month of Summer
Well. I took that road and it led me to where I am today. Wounded and a little confused. But my life is so much richer because I did. I have so many people in my life that I treasure. I belonged to a singles group on Facebook for years. The friends I met there made the trip worth it. The relationships I have watched start and stop have been interesting. My friends… We’re always there for one another. Adding even more to our lives. When one of us is hurting. Others step up. While one side of me believes the internet has damaged the outcome of many relationships, the other side of me sees such value from it as well. All I have to do is look at how many more humans I care about and are in my daily life. Most began as a simple profile picture on my screen. Now… We, they mean everything to me. Not bad, not bad at all. From a photo to a friend. And a little something in between. Pretty awesome.
“So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
So. We arrive at a conclusion. I stand on a ledge overlooking my future. I’ve been here before. Many times really. Not all ended the way I hoped. Not all brought me such joy. But the leaps I made in the past made me who I am today. I know my capacity to love now. A year ago today, outside of that restaurant, as I hugged my friend goodbye. I said, I love you. She hugged me back and said, I love you too. It wasn’t romantic for her. It felt like home to me. There was no agenda that day. I just needed to look into her eyes one more time. It was simply the proof I needed to proclaim this journey was as I had hoped. Time well spent…
So what does my friend losing the love of her life and my relationship with my special friend have to do with one another? Honestly, I’m not sure. But I can’t think of one without thinking of the other. And that means something. One was a loss by choice, the other was not. But both were losses. Both matter to me, and both hurt people I care deeply about. Myself included…
“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”
― Marthe Troly-Curtin, Phrynette Married