Twenty-four years ago my on-again, off-again boyfriend who I’d known between the ages of 16-24 died. I recall waking to the phone ringing the day after Halloween, quite hungover from the party the night before. The person on the phone (I have no idea to this day who called me) told me there was a fire and Fraser didn’t make it out. I asked if he was in the hospital. I was told that he died. I dropped to the floor that day in shock. The person asked if I was still there. She gave me information about his funeral as if I could take it in.
For many years I felt guilt about his passing. Fraser, like me, was an alcoholic and heavy smoker. He habitually smoked in bed and when I was around I would often take the cigarettes out of his hand and put them out after he fell asleep. I had broken up with him again about a week before he died. I wasn’t there to put the cigarette out. So I felt guilt. I ended our relationship for the last time. I felt guilt. I crushed him this time. I felt guilt.
But the other thing that happened is that I wasn’t there when the fire broke out. Neither was my 1 and a half year old daughter. We survived. I’ve often thought back to this occasion and wondered what would have been. And marveled at the timing. We reconnected after a couple of years of not seeing each other. Had a passionate relationship where he wanted to commit and I bailed just in time to stay out of a fire. After I went through the guilt, which lasted many years, I saw the stepping stones that led me out of that particular danger. What led to me breaking up with him was a racist joke that one of his friends made. Even then when I was so messed up I couldn’t condone it. And couldn’t condone him laughing at the joke. Now, that may have been my excuse for not committing, I was messed up after all, but it gave me the excuse. It led me away from the danger.
How many times in life are we led toward or away from the things that could happen in our lives. Without ever knowing, we might be led from accidents, from contact with illness, from dangerous situations or toward the very people that we need in our lives. We never know which frustrations in our lives are leading us to or from what we really need.
In my last post I wrote about my frustration around being in a holding pattern in terms of kidney disease. Maybe there’s a reason for it that hasn’t yet revealed itself to me. I’m trying to be still and remind myself how things often work out the way they need to. In the stillness perhaps I’ll find peace with this situation.