*insert witty, heartfelt statement about life being a journey, not a destination*

“For all of your suffering
No one gives a good goddamn
It’s all about the money, son
We doubt you understand”  R. Bingham

A friend, a good and dear friend, came home the other day to be told her relationship was over. There was no opportunity for rebuttal, nor recourse, nor much of anything beyond “I’ll be back for the rest of my stuff this weekend.” My outgoing, ever-optimistic and smiling friend has been reduced to walking around in a zombie-state around the office. She bought her home with her significant other so the two of them could build a family, forging forward as a couple in an area of the country without the reputation of being so friendly to couples such as they are, or more aptly, were. She joins the ranks of those of us flying solo into the worst month for those flying solo, where declarations of love and Hallmark-inspired orgies of chocolate supposedly signify your affection for someone else. I hate this for her, because she is someone who warrants the receipt of all of that wonderful boundless energy she exudes like some sort of contagious affliction of hope.

I have been where she is and have caused such heartache as well. I don’t think any of us can get to this age in life without having damaged or been damaged by those we care about, unless you’re a casual sociopath. So we went to lunch. She held it together tight, until the whole “who’s gonna get the dogs?” question came up, and despite my lame attempts to infuse it with a smile (“don’t worry, it is me; I will let the dogs out”) that’s when her tears escaped like rogue convicts, spilling down her face and into an egg-salad sandwich, fittingly enough. She’s lost. That’s where we get lost, isn’t it? The shock of the loss becomes reality in the minute details, and suddenly, no one in our world looks familiar anymore and we’re in a figuratively new town without knowing how to get around. She’s new to this figurative town, but I’ve lived over here a while and let me tell you that, while strange and foreign and potentially lonely, there are people who WANT to be in your world, who want to see the light that shines from your smile, my friend. There are those of us with our hand out towards you, and here to pull you back up when you slip and fall into a hopeless tailspin.

“People they tell me
Just to give up and go on home
But to have no home to go to
Is something they’ll never know” R. Bingham

Sometimes we emerge on the other side with someone with whom we’re supposed to be with; I hope that’s the case with my ex-wife. She’s good people and a good mom, and why the hell shouldn’t she be happy? What I’m learning on my own trip is simply that the concept of expectation is an inherently flawed paradigm and one that has poisoned so much of my past. I feel meant to be here for the time I’ve spent, learning how to navigate the slippery trails of my own heart and mind on my own. No matter what we THINK we want, we get what’s meant to happen to us, and all that we can do from there is learn. And learning can be a real bitch at times, but we grow through that. We grow like you wouldn’t believe, with gray hairs and wrinkles and a little more humility on the other side. We learn to laugh again, maybe not as freely as before, but from the soul, and that is a good thing.

“Sometimes I feel
Like I ain’t getting nowhere
I’m walking down this road
With a burden I can’t bear” R. Bingham

And so lunch wrapped up with penciled-in plans to help with light carpentry, deep cleaning and a fresh coat of paint on her baseboards to help her approach this new chapter with a new perspective. She will rebuild her home with the help of those of us who’ve been here a while. She will smile again someday and it will be that contagious, infectious laugh that gets people in her world to laugh without thinking about it. We’ll navigate the dark chapters with the help of a well-crafted cocktail or a box of cheap wine and bold declarations that this isn’t over yet, dammit. Our people, our tribe will be there, even if it is in the background and quietly, while we host deathmatch-style brawls in our own minds and figure out just who we are and how we strike a balance between peace and contentment. To navigate such a path is a scary and wonderful journey, indeed.

THIS, I suppose, is the gift we have to give, beyond that of an egg-salad sandwich and a shoulder upon which to cry and rage and heal. Light the way down your own path, so that others who might stumble and fall may find their own journey a little less lonely. To smile again, weary and otherwise, is a gift in and of itself, and a beautiful one, indeed.

“I never let this world
Get too heavy on my shoulders
‘Cause my diamond always will
Pull the weight that I’m under” -R. Bingham


**Watch the Bingham video these lyrics came from HERE**