Sometimes in the midst of everything falling apart, prayers can be answered. Prayers you never expected to see answered.
Someone you thought would be a part of your life forever and ever, and then one day, was gone...
Someone you imagined suddenly finding on your doorstep late one night, or seeing in your favourite cafe on a sunny afternoon...
Someone whose car you thought you saw at the market or the next lane over a few cars ahead on the freeway...
Someone whose name called out by a stranger in the mall made you stop and look, on the off chance it was him (or her)...
Someone you finally left in the past, after long nights of tears and countless futile bargains with G-d, or whatever you imagine the powers in the universe to be...
Sometimes, somehow, one day, you might be standing in the post office line or paying for groceries or answering e-mails in your office -- something ordinary and every day, and your phone rings. And instead of the almost-anybody-else-in-the-universe you thought it could possibly be, it's him. It's that voice you recognize from a single hello.
And you stand there, stunned, all the words you once imagined saying if you ever had the chance have suddenly vanished from your brain. And you feel like you're 10 years old and a grown-up expects you to do something that you just don't quite get. Like talk. So you squeeze out a squeeky hello, and then you wait...not having any idea what the next words should be.
You babble. And odds are they babble. They ask what's new. And even if you have a new job, new house and dozens of other new things in your life since they left, you say "nothing." Because for that instant, you are back where you were when they left and nothing really has changed.
And after only a few minutes, you hang up. Even if you used to talk for hours on end and have saved up years worth of things to say, you say good-bye. You promise to talk again. Soon. And you stand there.
Because the call you once prayed for every minute of every day came.
And you didn't know what to say.
Over the next day or two it sinks in...and then you start to wonder. What about the life I have now? Do I want to go back to who and what I was then? Haven't I changed and grown and learned since then. And you don't call back. And he does not call back.
And you look at the people you have in your life now, and you imagine leaving them behind. And you can't. Because they are the ones you choose to be with now. The ones who might have caught you as you fell, or met you when you arose, like the pheonix from that past sorrow...and they saw you soar for the first time as the new being you are now.
That call came on Tuesday, as I stood by my car, juggling mail to take into the post office. I almost didn't answer. It was not a good time. That it could have been him on the other end never occured to me. But in the end, I answered. I'm dealing with some legal issues left over from my now several years old divorce and thought it might be my attorney. The area code was right for it to be her. But it was not her. It was him.
And one hello was all I needed to hear to know that.
So the question is: now what? I am not who I was when we parted a year ago. I have changed. I have grown. I am stronger, sadder, happier, weaker, smarter, more confused, more contemplative, and more impulsive than I was then. I look different to myself when I look in the mirror. The sorrow has aged me, I think. But my eyes are more peaceful than I remember them looking when we were together.
For now, we are 1700 miles apart. And I cannot see that changing any time soon.
Tonight is a night for the beach. For quiet conversations about here and now and maybe even tomorrow. I think I've looked backwards long enough.