In Passing

Some weeks ago I was back at home, as I am now.  While searching for a battery on the nightstand next to my bed, I disturbed a feather that had been resting there… for how long?  Was that my writing feather from the Conference Center?  Or had I picked it up at some other crucial moment?  I’d have to scour the journals.  Whichever great symbol of my life it had been to me, its oldness became obvious when I handled it:  parts of it broke off in flakes and pieces, floating away.
 
So a feather is no permanent marker.
 
…If not a feather (you know, Forrest Gump…), what was it that floated down to me yesterday night?
 
 
Two nights ago, Thursday, as I sat at a computer at the school library, two of my friends that remain confided to me online some disappointments they’d suffered, similar in nature.  My counsel in the past has seemed to flow like a surging river, drowning some and isolating others; but now that riverbed is long parched: more like a faint breeze, my advice offers no quenching relief to anyone, nor turns any from their own course.  Maybe it’s just that all my advice has already been given to those two… or maybe my advice has all been given, period.  At any rate, I hoped as the night ended that I had helped them somehow, or at least condoled.
 
Last night, Friday, I was back here…
 
…And a third friend logged on — well, less than a friend, and so much more — and shared the same regretful news.
 
It was a familiar feeling…  What was that?  Not a feather…
 
That was a… poem fluttering down from the sky, one that I had written long ago…  Or it was a clever fortune from inside a cookie, a piece of my life predicted by a stranger.
 
That was a prayer drifting softly back to me… a prayer I had said before…
 
 
The news of the three, of course, involved heart-ache.  They had different situations and degrees — from twinges to stabs — but the same sorrow.
 
I hadn’t wished it upon any of them; not even the third, who, in truth, was the one I used to love, and who gave me my greatest sorrow in life.
 
…Not the pain.  But I had prayed vision to come to her; awareness; or…
 
…Sense.
 
…An opening of the senses… an opening of the heart.
 
What justified such a prayer?
 
Only that I loved her and lost her.  Maybe it was irresponsible.
 
But more than active prayer, it was also passive expectation that she, like me, would receive what she gave.
 
That was that familiarity that returned last night.
 
 
And how was my counsel?
 
Empty, again, to her; but full to me.
 
On Tuesday night when I lay considering my demise, one of the visages that came to mind, of those to whom I felt I would have "last words" to deliver, was hers.
 
Two things I would have needed to tell her:
 
That I was sorry for loving her for so long…
 
And that I hoped she would always abide in the Gospel.
 
Last night, she asked if I had words…
 
The second part was said to her while the first was left buried, as it may forever stay.  Of all nights, that would not have been the night to say such words as "love" to her, whose heart had just been bruised… as if I were some filthy thief looking for an opportunity.
 
And then, I had already said that word to her… two years ago, or two and a half.
 
Nevertheless, I would say it again to her if I were really leaving this world.
 
But what did I feel last night?
 
Pure sympathy.  I hoped she could get back to her usual form soon… that carefree personality so antipodal to me.
 
Why such a generous feeling in place of my former selfishness?
 
 
I watched three movies today, and harvested from the script of the third some thoughts I also would have buried from her, if I’d had them:
"Can’t you see?  Every step I have taken … has been to bring myself closer to you."
So much has been for her…
 
Though my actual trip this summer acquired a far nobler reason, it’s true that I first imagined trying to get closer to central Asia because… …she once said she wanted to visit the "stans"… Tajikistan, I think it was.  Whether a joke or not, I associated those lands with her, and myself with those lands.
 
And what kept my aim the steadiest on BYU Provo?
The notion that she too would go there eventually…
 
And, even now, why am I somehow expecting to go to Korea after I graduate?
Because… maybe… you know.
 
Although my direction is flawed… how could I have decided otherwise?  How can you not grasp for what you love?
 
…I feel it fading, though…
 
 
Another not-to-be-shared thought:
"What could I do?  …When I saw he had a chance at happiness with you, I stood silent."
So it was that, after I finally learned of her actual "boyfriend"… some unseen clock in my mind struck midnight… and I was suddenly ready to put things in the past, and walk away.
 
And so it also was that even if she had become unclaimed again…
 
…Well.  My claim has already been displaced, discarded.
 
And my sympathy is made pure again, without other motive, as in the beginning.
 
 
A final opinion from the movie:
"The heart dies a slow death,
shedding each hope like leaves,
until one day there are none —
no hopes.
Nothing remains."
Has it finally happened…?
 
Has time with its mysteries changed me into someone else?
 
Time turns enemies, friends, and loved ones alike into strangers.
 
Time erodes the boulders in our hearts, speck by speck.
 
Time answers the unanswered prayers…
 …And spreads miracles thin across a thousand tomorrows.
 
Although many blessings, like distant parcels, have not arrived in the moment that I begged for them, I don’t need to doubt that they were sent.
 
…I wonder what other strange things are drifting my way.
I can be patient.
 
-Steve
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One Response to In Passing

  1. Steve says:

    But, to what avail, that answer? Its emergency has already been forgotten…So too, very much of what we ask is probably similarly irresponsible: it will come, and we will find it useless — or worse. If we think God will not take us seriously, and only give us the unknown best, we perhaps have forgotten that he already gave us what he deemed the absolute best:Our free choices. We have to be careful what we pray for.I\’m glad I\’ve held back sometimes, then. But some prayers I\’m not sure I sufficiently restrained…So now I also wonder… when that darkness, that sweet sleep, will finally come.

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