Magical Moment

It’s 12.21.12.   The Mayans predicted it would be the end of the world.  That idea didn’t scare me, maybe because I am more and more spiritually centered in that which I can’t control; maybe because I believe in reincarnation; maybe because if the world was over my hurt and struggle in this life would be gone.

I don’t want to give you the wrong impression. Outwardly, I am not full of sadness and dread.  I’d say I am a pretty upbeat person. I think I’m affable, and I likely give most people the perception that I’m happy.  At a holiday party recently an associate said she thought I was always in a good mood.  A different associate at this gathering quickly corrected this, somewhat jokingly, saying that the 1st woman must not know me very well, and of course she was right (though the 2nd woman was simply referring to the level of drama with which she sees me at work, since she sits closer to me), but I think likely most people who don’t know me, the real me, the one who is writing this, the one who cries sometimes to and from work or in the shower, without any control – since grief does, as Joan Didion has written, come over me often like a rollercoaster – with so much abrupt force that it can make me keel over and need to catch my breath, think I am a happy person.

I am that person who smiles at strangers on the street.  Or returns a resounding “Good morning!” to the person on the hiking trail.  I will make small talk in line at the bank.  I have even become friends with the women at the dry cleaners.

But underneath all of that optimism is truly a void so big and a longing so deep that I am, as a matter of fact, a sad woman, and so the end of the world wouldn’t have been so bad.

That is not to say that I would opt out on my own.  Hell, no.  First off, having lost close friends way too early, I do not take being alive for granted.  Like my dad would say, “You know who wants to be 82?  An 81 year old.”  I look forward to a new day or in this case, next year, because I hope for promise.  Promise of a dream I know is meant to come true.

(Of course it’s worth noting that having to keep up this level of hope, the decision that I make to be optimistic every day, is exhausting.  I’ve never done a marathon, but I am positive that these fertility efforts are harder than climbing Mount Everest; 12 egg retrievals later, I am as strong mentally as a triathaloner is physically.  I have stamina.)

And along with the fact that I am a sad person who has a tremendous amount of hope for the new year, I have to say, I hate the holidays, specifically Christmas.

I hate that parents get to celebrate for the 1st, 2nd or 3rd time with their child, and that I don’t.

I hate that parents dragged their child to see Santa Clause at the local mall, and that I can’t.

I hate that they send me their stupid fucking holiday cards, with their beautiful children posed for a picture.

I hate that they take it for granted.

I am sad that we don’t get to do any of those things.  Again.  This year.

And it’s not just me as a bereaved mother or as a woman struggling with fertility that feels the pressure of Christmas, like a loaded gun being pointed at my back.

Holidays are rough for SO many people, and I think most people are blissfully unaware of that.  Some people are newly widowed.  Some people, at 10 or at 50 years old, are orphans this year for their first time.  Some people are starting chemotherapy.  Others found out that their chemotherapy didn’t work.  Some people just lost their jobs, and can’t buy any presents for their children this year.  I could go on. And on.

Almost 3 years ago I was at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, and I shared that I had lost my son.  I had shared at this meeting countless times over the years – sometimes commenting on what that morning’s speaker had said and sometimes about something that I had been feeling, but what was different about this meeting is that nobody responded as I had wanted, no, needed them to, to my heartfelt and incredibly personal share.  The people who shared after me talked about financial struggles or relapsing or fights with their families, things I had related to so many times, but by now found so incredibly small and insignificant compared to what I was experiencing.

So I decided to leave the meeting early, and as I traipsed across the sand on the beach from where this meeting was held, a man named Sandy came after me.  Sandy was a gruff man.  He often spoke in his shares about what it felt like to be free after having been incarcerated.  He sometimes read poems he’d written.  Always smoked Marlboro reds.  And I had never related to him on any level.  But there he was, calling after me on the sands of Venice Beach that Saturday morning in January of 2010.  “Miss?  Miss?” – I heard, and I turned around.  He came up to me, took his sunglasses off and grabbed my hand with both of his hands, and said, “I’m really sorry about your son.”   At the time, I didn’t think there was anything profound about the moment, though I did appreciate the effort.

This morning I was driving to work.  The world hadn’t ended, so I had a huge day ahead of me.  Christmas is in 4 days.  We have a stack of holiday cards at home that I have tossed aside like a true scrooge.  I have a great deal of resentment that another holiday is coming up without a child to love and protect; being the mother to an angel is just not the same.  And I was tired and cranky as my insomnia is alive and well.

And I saw Sandy, the man from that AA meeting – one I haven’t returned to since that time – crossing the street.  He looked the same; rough around the edges.  He was limping; I don’t remember him limping before.  And I realized that my hand went to cover my heart.  I did not do this consciously; seeing him brought back such a strong memory so quickly that my reflex was to hold my heart, almost as if to hug it from the pain that had immediately swelled up at that emotion, as quickly as a dip on a roller coaster ride, at having seen him.

The light turned green and I drove on to my coffee place, remembering the humanity of that moment differently than I had first experienced it, that Saturday in January, almost 3 years ago.

About 5 minutes later, after I got my coffee, I saw him walking again.  It struck me that he had walked pretty quickly from Marine to Pico, and also that when I’d first noticed him he was walking in the opposite direction of where he was at this moment.  Odd.

And I debated what to do; this is what I consider a G-d shot moment – a moment in which I think that there is a divine reason why I am seeing this person twice in one morning.  And why had he switched directions on his walk?  I debated and debated and then quickly pulled over on the side of the road and rushed out and yelled, “Sandy!”  He turned around and came towards me and I said something like…

“I used to go that Saturday morning meeting on the beach…. And 3 years ago I lost my son and when I went to that meeting and shared that, you came after me as I was leaving to tell me how sorry you were to hear this… I didn’t know you then, I don’t know you now, but I want you to know that I saw you a few minutes ago and simply seeing you reminded me on a deeply emotional level of how much that moment meant to me, you coming up to me on the beach; it made me put my hand to my heart…. So when I saw you again just now, I realized I had to pull over and say thank you. Thank you for being a generous human.  For being so kind.  I want you to know that your words did make a difference…”

I took off my glasses now, instinctually, so that we could really connect.

He was moved to tears.  He thanked me for thanking him.  I extended my hand.  He pulled in for a hug, and kissed me.  I thanked him again.  He thanked me again. I got back in my car, waved through the window, and went on to work.  I debated offering him money but then stopped myself, because our connection was beyond anything physical, so much bigger than everything commercial, and I did not want to pollute that with a monetary contribution to a man that I outwardly judged as perhaps needing financial help.

It was a Magical Moment.  One of those that makes me feel lucky, grateful to be alive, and happy that the world is not over.

THAT is what I will celebrate this Christmas.

3 thoughts on “Magical Moment

  1. The name Sandy is diminutive for Alexander. In Hebrew, Abraham.

    It was wonderful meeting you the other day. In the midst of talking I didn’t tell you how truly sorry I am for what you’ve been through. Most of all, for the loss of Finley. In reading your blog, and the light dancing, I’m reminded once again, how thin the veil really is. And how much you’ve allowed all of us to meet him. Thank you for that. Finley too. I feel like I’ve spent time with you both. Love, Judith

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