Saturday, January 25, 2014

Life is Strange

Last year started out oddly for me.

I told you on Christmas about the friend I made. I didn't get too much in depth, but I have some more thoughts I'll share now.

Something has been going through my mind over the past week or so. I just finished the fourth book in the "Hangman's Daughter" series. It wasn't the best of the bunch, but it was still pretty good. It was the most predictable of the four: I could see where it was headed early on, which is not a trait of the earlier books. Still, it managed to wring a few tears out of me.

I bring this up because the title character, Magdalena, looks JUST like my friend. That was what drew me to the picture in the first place.  I mean, other than the smiling eyes and the knowing grin on her lips and the fact that she's rather stunning in her own right. I mean, how often do you see a character step right out of a book? Even if the character's looks are a figment of your own imagination. (Honestly, their eyes are different colors, but why quibble?)

And, since I don't want to use real names, but I don't want to just call her "my friend," or "my former friend," I am going to use the names "Abigail," and "Abby," because she reminds be of King David's second wife: smart, strong and her (first) husband was a total idiot. (Seriously, his name means "fool" or "idiot" in Hebrew. Actually, it translates literally as "Jackass." I'm told that isn't a curse word if you are in fact talking about the donkey type.)

So, at this time last year, my family was getting ready to go on the first leg of our "Racist Vacation." That's Kalahari, Kennywood, then something else starting with a 'K.' As it turned out, the 3rd 'K' was only me, and it was either Kirtland, my Kidney stones, or my drive through Kenosha which left me unwelcome in the Greater Milwaukee area. My wife was going through her fits about how much she hated Abby, and I tried to pull away, honestly I did, but frankly, I couldn't do it. We had met for a reason. I said that at the time, and I still believe it today. And that reason had not yet been discovered.

We did take our vacation. It was in one of the lulls in the friendship where we were trying to stay at an arm's length, figuratively speaking, and were basically communicating only in public forums and fairly formally at that. My wife, of course, didn't believe that, but it was true. And then I got my kidney stones. It was a difficult time for me physically. The pain was pretty rough until I underwent surgery and had a stent put in to help the stones pass. The stents took me out of the episodic agonizing pain and in to the constant low grade agonizing pain. My wife assumed, incorrectly, that I was still in constant contact with Abigail.

In fact, my wife shunned my for most of the month of February. The day before I had my stent taken out,, she was stunned to find out I was passing blood. It wasn't news, it had been happening every time I walked for over three weeks. She shunned me into March, as well. Abby and I spoke sparingly, and mostly in a professional context for most of this time.

It was the day after St. Patrick's Day, March 18th, that I got  one word e-mail from Abigail. It said, "Drowning." I still have it saved. She was in pain, and I couldn't ignore that. My wife had been distant and pushed me away for so long that I thought, "If I'm going to be treated like that, I'm going to help her." So I did. It was a momentous decision.

We started talking again, and Abby started feeling better. In a few weeks, she told me she wanted to do something for me, as a thank you for helping her through a rough time. I told her that her friendship was thanks enough for me, but she offered to share her religion with me. I said, "Okay. Out of academic interest anyway. Don't expect me to convert, though. Because you all are crazy." Another momentous decision.

I had about two weeks at the end of March and beginning of April where my wife seemed to be coming around. Then I told her that I was studying the church, that I wanted to be a better person, that I wanted to EXALT her, so to speak, and she drew away from me again. That was on April 4th of last year. We have hardly spoken since. And that time includes the entire three days at Kennywood. As close as we got to speaking was the shouting matches we had in marriage counseling, which ended disastrously.

As crazy as it seems, we've barely spoken now in almost 10 months. I've tried, but she pushed me away so much, that no matter how hard I tried to reconnect, I couldn't. So, I finally stayed away. 

I never thought a year ago that I would be looking down the barrel of a divorce, but I don't see how we get back to where we were from here. I am no longer the person I was a year ago. I not only studied the church, I actually DID convert. I guess that makes me crazy, too, but at least I'm crazy in Christ! But my wife is Catholic and hates my church as much as I hated being Catholic when I was growing up. 

I realized too late that my marriage wasn't as strong as I had been pretending it was. And I WAS pretending, even to myself.  In my quest to become a better person, I became someone my wife didn't like and couldn't accept. If I had known where things were going at this time last year, I would have pulled away then. I made the wrong decision for the right reason: If I had left then, it would have appeared that I was leaving her for someone else, which would have been both true and untrue. A man who would leave his wife for the sole reason he wants to be with someone else is a man not worth being with. 
And the irony is, now that I am likely to be leaving, free to be friends, Abigail will no longer speak to me. I messed up. I messed up big. And I have no way of letting her know how sorry I am.

Nor how much her friendship means to me. It means enough to me that I would literally do almost anything necessary to get it back. What would I NOT do? Sacrifice small animals. Beat my children (though I would (and DO) THREATEN them with a severe lashing). Um...Worship Baal and/or Moloch...Vote democRat (although, if she asked REEEEAAAAAALLLY nicely...maybe) can't think of much else.

What WOULD I do?

I would drive walk 500 miles in a raging snowstorm with temperatures below zero and windchills of about 3 Kelvin just to shovel snow out of her driveway. THAT'S serious friendship. Because I HATE snow.

I would rip my heart right out of my ribcage with my bare hands and then throw it on the floor and stomp on it till I died.

I would never eat another cookie in my life, if that were her desire.

I would take on a fire-breathing dragon with nothing more than a rusty sword and armor made of scrap tin and aluminum.

I have never met anyone whose friendship had such a powerful effect on me. It lifted me up, made me more than I was. It made me want to strive to be BETTER.

Without it, I am lost and floundering.

My failing marriage aside, I am a better person for having met her: I have nearly stopped cursing, which means I have had to actually acquire a vocabulary. I have lost a lot of weight, nearly 50 lbs sonce last April, due I believe, to prayer and the Church, to which Abigail introduced me. I have given up most of my bad habits, including one I thought I would never, EVER break involving certain media and the activities associated with the consumption thereof. About the only bad habits I have left are my addiction to Coke® and maybe picking my nose in traffic. Also, thinking farts are always funny. No one in my life has EVER been able to give up so many bad habits. And a large part of it was that I didn't want to disappoint her.

I moss our discussions about church and scriptures, which is something I can't say about any other person. We used to try to sing on Skype. The delay doesn't help with harmonizing, but it was fun. I still sing to her in my more whimsical moments. ♪♫You don't know you're beautiful...♫♪. She has a beautiful voice to go with her beautiful face.

As I said on Christmas, I have risked almost everything I have to remain friends, and the final total has not yet come due. But I would do it all again. And I would risk anything that I have left to bring that friendship back. Maybe I'm clinging (but not bitter, just confused). But when someone is so special, so influentuial, so wonderful, so POWERFUL, you have to hold on to them with every last ounce of strength, every last gasp of breath. I will love her until the day I die, and when I wake up on the other side, I will know I am where I am thanks to the guidance she gave to me.

It may not be manly to admit it, but  admit it I will: I miss her so badly that it brings tears to my eyes every night. She is in my prayers every night. I pray for her to find peace, love and happiness.

I miss her so much.

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