On most Sunday mornings, I look back on the week I’ve had and think about what to post – whether there are emerging themes or repeat occurrences that are worth discussion.
This past week was packed with what seemed to be a lot of disconnected events, all noteworthy in my mind, but not necessarily related. It kicked off with the passing of a dog I loved, at the young age of nine, who my dog played with as a pup when we lived in Los Angeles. My reaction (tears and an impulsive phone call to my friend) surprised me in its intensity. The obvious reason is it made me think of my own dog’s mortality (but also forced me to make an appointment for her exam which was overdue and drag us both to the vet at 7:30 on a hung-over morning). And then two other friends’ pets suddenly passed this week as well (without Facebook I would never have known).
Divorce is often compared to a kind of death – the death of one life, and the beginning of a new one. And when the divorce is bitter and contact is terminated, the remaining vacuum and feelings of loss are akin to death too, which unfortunately is something I can relate to. My ex-husband and I met in college, at the ripe young age of 18, and when we split 16 years later, the seven stages of grieving per Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (who I studied in my University Psychology classes) were unavoidable (although not as long, and surely not as deep and painful as an actual death of a loved one).
But a rebirth is inevitable too, as finally, thankfully, the last few years have been for me. I can always tell when I go home to New Jersey to visit with my family, who serve as truth check or mirror to what is really going on with me (whether I welcome it or not), when my sister looks me in the eyes and says, “You’re doing good. I can see it,” as she happened to say to me today.
In another seemingly unrelated moment, a friend of mine mentioned that his ex-wife remarried this weekend, and I’m guessing he was feeling a disconcerting internal shift too; a release of the past and a fierce desire to build a new future for himself.
A girl (I’ll call her Jill) whom I was friendly with from my college dorm (and who knew my ex-husband) reached out to me several years back and we forged an immediate connection, fueled by our common struggles as single women in our late thirties. We didn’t see each other often, but when we did, we discovered uncanny similarities. I’ve recently been swamped at my new job and all the social outings it entails, and while I had heard she was searching for an office space for her business, I didn’t give it much thought.
Until she told me she coincidentally found a lease in my building.
On the heels of my whirlwind week, I stayed in the city this weekend with the intention of doing nothing. I bought a present for my niece’s birthday whose party I attended today, and caught up on the phone with old friends. I’ve been struggling with finding balance – time to give to the people who really matter to me – and while I didn’t plan anything, I felt myself open up and turn towards those who had been giving to me.
Jill happened to move into my building this weekend. Unbeknownst to me, she had bravely made the decision to take a leap, and then made the move on her own, as strong women with faith – and a kind of trust in the universe – do. It reminded me of when I moved into my first apartment post divorce, and then again post breakup, and how difficult it was. Without much fanfare, I turned off the Facebook, grabbed two glasses of wine, and went downstairs to give her a second opinion on paint colors and furnishings. When I opened the door she had left open for me, I felt the rush of memories from our dorm life flood in.
Later, she texted me to say that my presence in the building felt like an omen of sorts; that a woman she knew from college was there, “fighting the good fight, taking risks, and forging a new path…maybe the univ has given us both a big thumbs up,” she wrote.
By “univ,” she meant “universe.”
But then it hit me. I thought she meant “University.” Not just because we went to University together, but because our building happens to be on a street called “University Place.”
I’m not going to get into the whole “signs and omens” thing here again – I’ve written several posts about it already. But my skin was suddenly covered with goose bumps, when it was 89 degrees out.
It made me think about rebirth again. The odds of my life intersecting with an old friend of mine at this specific time, when we are both grabbing change by the gut, was not to be overlooked.
No connection is tenuous, in my opinion. All of these seemingly disparate events could easily be hidden from view if we are not primed to see them. But this week, I was fortunate to have banished the clutter of frivolous flirtations and distractions so that I could.
And then tonight, as I sat trying to figure out what to write about and trolling Facebook as I always do when I procrastinate, a quote on a friend’s wall made it all click together:
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassions, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” — Elisabeth Kubler-Ross