Today is the third day of Hanukah, and last night we lit the third candle on our Menorah. We told the third part of the story of the Macabees and the Hanukah miracle. We ate our foil wrapped "Hanukah gelt" and cuddled together as a family to watch Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. After we tucked the children into their beds, I spent some time on my own contemplating the meditations from Rabbi Orenstein's essay.
She writes, "What are the miracles of joy, surprise, and delight in your life? Was there a time when you were you recovering from loss, and preparing to face the future, when you got a gift – a sudden surge of hope, of Light, a promise for the future?"
I spent yesterday thinking about this. The picture that immediately came to mind was Eric, my dear friend who died just four years ago. When I was a year separated from my "wusband" I met Eric online. I knew him then as Fenrir, and later as ErictheMad from LiveJournal and other online names. At first he was a confidant, then a friend, then a close friend, and eventually a virtual lover. He brought life back to my gray existance, and helped me see that my separation and immanent divorce were unimportant. I was free, pretty, and full of joy, and that's all that mattered.
Then he came to visit me. It changed the course of my life. He came, not knowing if we'd continue our "lover" arrangement in the flesh, and not caring one whit. He came to visit, and that's all he came expecting to do. The first night, he slept downstairs on the air mattress, because my daughter was there and I didn't think it right that she see me sleeping with anyone. The second night she was with her dad, and so Eric came to my room at bedtime.
He held me. Really, that's all he did. Eventually, over the course of his visit, we enjoyed more than that, but that first night he didn't push, didn't make comments, didn't even hit on me. He just sat on the floor of my room and held me, and let me cry and talk and shiver and get it all out. He healed me. I had not thought I'd ever find a male who could do that, put my needs ahead of his own, and here he was holding and embracing me, with nothing more in mind than to comfort me.
His unconditional love for me continued through several years. We broke up as lovers, but remained friends. We fell out of touch, then found each other again a couple of years before he died. I was going on a long drive to school twice a week, and I would put him on my earpiece, and we'd talk the whole journey. We spent countless hours discussing our school ventures, the twins (who weren't quite born at the time), etc.
Then one night he wasn't around when I called. Later that night, I got email from friends trying to find out his parents' phone numbers. Soon after that, I learned that he'd had a major brain aneurism and had died. They say he didn't suffer, and I hope that was true. I was devastated. The twins were born a few days later, and I felt guilty at the joy I felt holding them. I felt such grief as I'd never experienced before. The only thing that I could hold onto was the fact that I'd spent the night previous to his death talking to him, and I'd said repeatedly just how proud I was of him, and how much of a miracle he had been and was in my life. He went knowing he was loved.
So that's what I thought about yesterday. They're bittersweet memories, yes. I miss Eric still, though perhaps not every day anymore. Now it's more like once or twice a week that I think of him. But those memories are happy ones, proud ones, joyous ones.