You learn as much about something in its absence as you do in its close proximity. Perspective flows into the space where the thing once was, like plaster filling a cast, leaving something whole, if wholly hollow, in the place of what was. In the emptiness left behind after a recent love there is confusion, self-doubt, nostalgia, and longing, but the shape of things I see is death. What I’ve learned from losing love, this time around, is how much my quest for love runs parallel to my quest for eternal life. In love there is something that never dies; it is an evergreen, stalwart as the world around it goes from spring green to autumn bursts to the brown of winter, and back again. In this aloneness I feel less connected to the eternal, a balloon that is joy in the hands of a child but fateless once it leaves her grasp.
The instinct to have children, which had crusted over in defiance of a tethered life, flickers like embers from beneath morning sand. Children are the thread that connects us to the beginning of humanity; they are our lottery ticket to earthly eternity; they are insurance bought against the prospect that our silly little lives will soon be forgotten. I don’t take my own instincts of procreation seriously because I know where they come from, and I know where they belong. In our boundless universe there is endless space to be filled with longing, space that no child, or children, could possibly fill. Neither can, even, the grandest love. Our deaths are final no matter how much love our lives manifest, an irreconcilable fact, a battle we cannot win but also cannot stop from fighting.
The saddest part of losing love once you’ve reached a ripe enough point of life is that you know, too well, from experience, that you will indeed love again. Gone is the post break-up play we act ourselves in where the self is the spinster, the wicked man shuffling down the street, a forgotten man left to decompose in a common burial ground with the other Eleanor Rigbies. I will love again. I will be loved. By someone new. Someone old, most recently or who knows. Even when love is gone in the present tense, it’s always there, the holy ghosts of our relationships leaving hints of the smell of cherry blossoms in places we least expect, and the places where we go to inhale most deeply to keep the ghosts alive.
Primarily, in this phase, the idea is to love myself, to jump the tracks and to, in myself, find the sensation of eternal life in the interconnectiveness of it all. In the empty spaces and in the people and relationships and things now whole. The forever I seek is in these empty spaces. It’s a love with the lights turned out. It’s the eternity in the space between our breaths; the impossible heights reached with our heads held high; the fire of God in the eyes of other seekers; the things in the dimensions past the horizon, in the place that is the absence of everything we have come to know.