Last week, I did something incredibly stupid.
Inspired by a friend who ran into his ex-girlfriend from more than a decade ago and realized he hadn't loved anyone since her, I looked up someone I haven't stopped loving for nearly seven years. I've talked about him before; he's the one I sobbed over two years ago when I learned he was engaged.
This time, it was worse. I typed his name into the search box on Facebook, and there, in Facebook's new format that makes photos take up three-fourths of the screen, was a picture of him holding a baby and enough "likes" and comments on the photo to remove any doubt the baby was his.
There is one perfect word for the feeling that came over me at that moment and that has refused to leave me for the past week: grief. I feel the same way I felt at 18 when the first of my two grandfathers died. A part of my life was gone, and I would never have it back.
And since then, I've been tempted to look again. I want to look at more pictures because I want to see his face. I know it would cause me more pain, but I want to know more about him. Where he ate today, what Dilbert-like thing his co-workers did, what he watched on TV last night, what he's doing for his wedding anniversary that's not with me -- I want to know all that happy and/or pointless stuff we feel compelled to broadcast to others because I miss him and I want to be in his life.
We say: Charlottesville reveals the weeping wound of racism. What do we, the American Catholic faith community, do next? Read the editorial.
And I want a time machine so I can go back to the last time I had a chance with him and choose to follow my heart. But since that won't happen, I'm trying to follow the advice I got from the pulpit Sunday and just get over it. That sermon was from 1 Samuel 16:1-4, when God asks Samuel, "How long will you grieve over Saul?"
True, "biblical" advice on Eros love hasn't served me well up to this point, but this was too timely to ignore. As the preacher pointed out, Samuel is mourning over someone who is very much alive, so the grief is really over the failed expectations of someone he had invested in heavily.
My situation is somewhat different. My investment wasn't in the relationship -- there, I didn't put in enough. I invested a lot in the belief that if I followed the rules, things would turn out well. Since they haven't, I'm trying to convince myself of three things: 1) I've invested a lot in the fantasy of what could have happened had I just known it was OK to follow my heart and choose happiness, a fantasy I have to be completely wrong about if my Saul is now a happily married father; 2) this isn't the end; and 3) scarcity is a myth.
In his sermon, the pastor said to remember that "God always has another (you fill in the blank)." For reasons better left for a memoir than this column, it's hard for me to believe God always has another tall, very attractive, physically fit, athletic, well-educated, creative Christian black man around my age with no kids (he didn't have any when we met) who's never been married and who's also attracted to me. How can there "always" be another when I haven't met anyone like my Saul since 2007?
Yet it's the same wisdom a friend dropped on me two years ago, when I learned my Saul was engaged and I cried for 72 hours straight. My friend recounted a sermon he had heard years ago that stuck with him. The minister had said that when God created the world, God said everything was "good," and it wouldn't be good unless God had created enough of it. God works in abundance, not scarcity. Any time you think, "There will never be another (job, man, woman, house, business opportunity, experience, whatever it is)," that is a lie and is not of God.
Scarcity is a myth. It's hard to believe in a world where selfishness, greed and the belief that you can't have more unless I have less have made everything from interpersonal relationships to the global economy destructive. But it's a shift my mind must make if I am to ever get over it.
[Mariam Williams is a writer born and raised in Louisville, Ky., where she's received numerous arts awards. When not working in the field of social justice research and taking graduate courses in women and gender and Pan-African studies, she blogs at RedboneAfropuff.com. Follow her on Twitter: @missmariamw.]
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