Monday, November 30, 2009

My Heart Will Go On

*UPDATE - I meant to post a different clip. This one is the updated one that has an additional scene after the first one in the hospital.*

I love Elliot. I think the actress who plays her, Sarah Chalke, is just hilarious and plays the crazy side up so well. This post doesn't really have anything to do with the clip. I just happened to be watching the episode last night and I thought both of those parts were really funny, and I love that someone combined the two.

No, what this post about is resiliency. Sometimes it surprises me. A friend of mine was asking around the other day about whether anyone would be willing to throw his/her kid off of a cliff for a million dollars, and you could absolutely guarantee the safety of the child. I said absolutely, and actually everyone she asked said the same thing, and her husband and I had the same response - kids are remarkably resilient, much more than we ever give them credit for, and if you know that the kid is going to be safe, then you may as well just take the money. They'll get over the betrayed trust part later, especially when that kid is enjoying the million dollars too.

In fact, there have been a number of studies that suggest that kids are resilient even in the face of pretty serious abuse, but the findings fly in the face of what you'd normally expect, and what happens is that journals won't publish the work because it's too controversial. People thought that if they published those findings, that some might use that as an excuse to worry less about child abuse, which is valid. True story. Anyway, kids, and people in general, are very resilient.

I was thinking about this the other day as I was searching through some of my old emails for what, I can't event remember now, but I came across one of my old emails to a girl that I had several years invested in. (This is a sidenote, but do you want to know who the best pen pal in the world is? It's me. If I feel like you're at all interested in me or what I have to say, I am uh-may-zing when it comes to correspondence.) But I was just reading the email and it was, as you can certainly imagine, so long-winded and incredibly detailed. I forgot until I was reading that email that I would spend at least two or more hours every Tuesday night writing her while she was serving her mission, and I did that for the duration of her mission. Never missed a week.

Reading that email got me thinking about all of the history that I had with that girl, about the fact that I thought my life began and ended with her. If things weren't going to work out with her, I just saw no other way of going on with life. Not that I was suicidal ever, but it was like outside of her, the only thing I could see was blank space, if that makes any sense.

About a week before she left on her mission, we were just sitting around at my house listening to music, and we were for the most part feeling a lot of happy feelings that night. Then Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes came on and I started singing it to her, and when I got to the part where he says, "and this emptiness fills my heart," I just burst into tears. Everything that I had been trying to push to the side came to the surface and spilled out of my eyes, and then she pulled me over, sat me on her lap, rubbed my back, and started crying with me.

We have easily hundreds, and maybe thousands, of just the sweetest memories together. While we were together, she was my best friend. She didn't know me better than Dave, but I certainly gave myself over to her more than anyone else in my life. And when things ended with her, each time it happened, I just felt the worst kind of pain, and it was so prolonged too. I thought it would never end.

I don't know. I guess it was just weird last week, reading that email, thinking about the memories I had with her, how hard it was to get over her, and think that it almost feels like I'm looking at another person's life when I think about that time. I just feel so removed from all of that now, to where there is no sense of loss when it comes to her, or that I somehow missed the only chance I would have at happiness. It was weird to think that there was this person and this relationship that I had so much invested in, and now I can look back on it and not feel a thing, at least none of what made it so difficult. Reading that email may as well have been like reading about events in some history book.

And that's what amazed me about how resilient we can be. People can, and must, learn to deal with grief and loss all the time. Sometimes it comes in more tragic and devastating ways than others, but in the same way that time can feel so brutally slow when you're in the middle of everything and just want to leave the pain of the present all behind, it is also miraculous in how it allows us to heal and soften the memories of difficulty to where it goes from feeling acute, to opaque, to simply an event from the past that served to shape the present. Time, coupled with the Atonement, provides everything that's necessary to heal. It's amazing to think about how that actually works. It's real.

And I'm really glad that's the case.

1 comment:

Laura said...

first off, did you ask anyone who actually had kids if they would throw them off a cliff? just saying, you might have different responses. but i know what you mean about being resilient. i can still recall with perfect clarity many of my dating woes and how i thought my life was over. funny how life goes on, and for the better.