It is 2:46 am and I am sitting at my kitchen counter eating cold pizza. I awoke about 45 minutes ago, and the timer in my mind knows that I will need to somehow fall asleep and wake again in the next few hours. In the morning, I will drive two hours to give a talk about mindfulness for a corporate retreat, and I know I should either be sleeping, or reviewing notes, or doing something other than this.
And yet. When I woke up at 2 am, there were so many things that wanted to be said. Poems that wanted to be written about last night’s sunset, and memories about how sunsets made me so sad as a child, especially Sunday night sunsets. Musings about why sunsets looked like the sky crying crimson tears, and why the very same shades of orange and red looked so hopeful when they were painting the morning sunrise.
And all the hours in between those sunrises and sunsets, the flashes of days that come together in odd middle of the night ways that won’t let you sleep.
Last week, driving an hour to see my therapist after six months. I don’t remember much of what I talked about, but I do remember the hug when we finally saw each other and the hug when I left. We have known each other over a decade now. I have the weight of two children still hanging on and a few more wrinkles and lines than I did back then. And he has some more grey hair and scruff and doesn’t play basketball anymore as he approaches 70. And yes I pay him to be my therapist but I don’t doubt for a second the profound love and belief that I feel in those fierce hugs. It is a moment of surrender, of allowing myself to receive, and I feel a flood of relief.
This morning, my dear friend who is actually a soul sister, calls me after we drop our kids off at school. We are both en route on Tuesday morning to work and meetings and wherever else our days will take us. But at 8:35 in the morning, her deep heaving sobs come through the line, and she is just as surprised as I am. A second ago we were talking about coffee. A second later, there is aching fear of loss, and free flowing waves of grief. We drop in with each other the way that only we can. There is nothing for me to say. I only offer the silence that she knows is compassion and holding, even over speakerphone. And a few seconds later, we are gone, on with the responsibilities of the day, but different.
My late afternoon patient, looking out the window, panoramic views with all the shades pulled up, and planes taking off and landing to the same faraway places in his eyes. He is wearing frameless glasses and his hair is greying at the temples, casually dressed and working from home on this Tuesday. He is widowed. He is speaking of how betrayal and guilt feel when you try to step into a new relationship after losing the one you loved, and still love actually. How awkward it all feels. How the rules have changed. How he is more fearful of hurting than being hurt. And how all he wants is to have his wife back. We laugh together at the stories, and are quiet together at times. Through the words, we feel the tenderness of these first steps, from empty weekends and dark hallways, to text messages and dating. How he doesn’t want any of it but at the same time needs it, and wrestles with the uncertainty of where it all leads.
And me, here now at 3:04 in the morning, remembering these small intersections that somehow build a life. That make meaning. The conversations and embraces that find you plodding down to your laptop and cold pizza in the middle of the night simply to be written because you don’t ever want to forget. The giving and receiving that happens in those in between spaces that will somehow come together as the most important moments of a life…if we can only pause long enough to have and notice them.
With gratitude, Monisha