Eleven days have passed since Aaron proposed. In that period of time, I have booked/bought the following:
- Reception Venue
- Wedding Planner
- String Quartet
- Wedding Dress
These are things I have not done in the last 11 days:
- Unpacked my apartment, which I moved into over a month ago
- Made copies of the key to my apartment, which my dad asked me to do over a month ago because he knows I’m irresponsible out of town a lot
- Cleaned out a single piece of trash that is accumulating in my car
- Scheduled a dentist appointment
- Scheduled a doctor’s appointment
- Consumed a vegetable, unless you count the carrot sticks I dipped in hummus as my entire dinner last Monday
- Saved money
The good news is that it looks like our wedding will go off without a hitch with only four months to plan (unless you call exceeding my budget a hitch…). The bad news is that I will continue to wear the same seven outfits for the next month until my boxes are unpacked, and I cannot take passengers in my car as of right now. Not that concerned about it.
Since Aaron is in Scotland and is also the energizer bunny’s cousin, he and I have been FaceTiming every night before bed. Honestly, the time difference kind of works out perfectly because we both get to go to bed at our preferred time: Me at 10:00 p.m. and him at 3:00 a.m. My favorite quote so far came out of his mouth last night after he had consumed most of the scotch in Scotland. While pointing at his screen– and occasionally trying to reach through it– he said the following, verbatim:
“Nobody can love through electrons the way I love you through these electrons.”
I’m going to go ahead and assume we should replace “electrons” with “electronic device,” but I’m really taking artistic liberty with that interpretation.
As you might be able to tell by my wedding-only schedule and Facetime stories, I miss my fiancé. The feeling is akin to how I feel about oversized sweaters in August, or thinking about the laundry mat in Manhattan, where I’d drop off my clothes once a week and come back to find them perfectly clean and folded, all for $11. Or $19 if I hadn’t done laundry in weeks. So usually $19. Anyway, missing Aaron is like missing those things, except about 80,000 times worse.
As the first few days he was gone turned into a week, and one week has reached almost two, I’ve seen my emotional reaction to missing him shift. I think the best way to describe the stages of separation is to think of it as a new workout routine. For the first few days, you’re mentally prepared and feel like you’ve got this. By one week in, you’ve lost a little steam, but remind yourself that it’s important to stay strong. Out of nowhere, around day 10, you’re suddenly angry. The world is out to get you and the elliptical is the devil and also shouldn’t someone love me for what’s on the inside? Pass the French onion dip. On day 12, you feel pretty fat and like a whiney kid at a baseball game who throws a fit just because he missed one fly ball, so you force yourself to go back to the gym to adult (v.). Two weeks pass, and all of a sudden it’s not so bad. The routine becomes a habit. You’ll probably get angsty about the gym every once in a while after that, but generally, you’ve adjusted to the new lifestyle.
Yesterday was day 10 since Aaron left for Scotland. I ate a LOT of French onion dip.
I think we can all agree that missing someone stinks. I, however, used to have an extreme fear of missing people. In seventh grade, I went on an Alaskan cruise with my aunt, uncle, and cousin. After our return, I spent two full months researching upcoming courses of the ship I’d been on because I needed to go back and see the crew. I missed my waiters and waitresses so much that I really thought I’d combust from sadness if I didn’t see them again.
I have issues.
In my twenties, my fear of not being around someone I love manifested in relationships and friendships, making it both my biggest strength and most debilitating weakness. We’ll start with the weakness side of the coin. I held onto relationships long past the point of “happy” because I was so scared of having to miss the person. The healthiness of my relationships fell somewhere on the spectrum between a chili dog and a Double Whopper With Cheese– kind of appealing at the time, but mostly horrible to think about in retrospect. In contrast, the I’ll-Miss-You-Too-Much Complex was (and is) a strength in friendships, because I became really great at staying connected. I took trips to see people, began planning an annual retreat for my a cappella girls, and basically did everything possible to create the dilemma I’m in today: How to cut down a wedding guest list. Gulp.
As you might imagine, when my mom got sick, my fear of losing her was the ultimate nightmare– as it would be for most people, but particularly for someone with such fear of missing people. Death is the ultimate form of saying goodbye, because you know you can never, ever see that person again. No amount of travel, money, or technology can reunite you (at least on earth). When my mom passed, and in the days, weeks, months, and years following, one of the many lessons I learned was that when missing someone is out of your control, you have no option but to live each day. The tears will happen, and that’s fine. The longing to see them and sadness will come in waves, but there’s literally nothing you can do except wake up each day and live.
One day, I hope to see my mom in Heaven. I want to see her now, but that’s not really an option (unless God decides to take me as I sit in this deck chair, in which case, bye—love all of you, please be kind to people, and someone please clean up my apartment before my dad sees it). Since it’s not an option, I’ve woken up every day for the past 2 years and 11 months and gone about laughing with friends, struggling with work, continuing my love-hate relationship with carbs, and reading teen novels. I think about her every day, I cry occasionally, and I still avoid certain places so potent with her memory that I’m not ready to visit. But generally, I’ve adjusted. I haven’t had a choice—and I’ve reached the point that I’m okay with that fact.
As missing Aaron this week has shifted from fine to sad to angry to annoyed with myself to now “kind of okay” (though not yet reached the final adjustment stage), I almost find comfort in knowing that there’s nothing I can do about it. All I can do is enjoy the weekend at the beach with family, read For the Right Reasons by The Bachelor Sean Lowe without the plastic cover so that no one can see what I’m reading, and get ready for another day of work tomorrow. Eventually, Aaron’s return on Wednesday will come. Just like, eventually, Heaven will come.
Missing people is a beautiful thing when you boil it down. It means you’ve loved. I’ve come a long way in the learning process of how to handle it– with still a long way to go– but I keep telling myself that it’s better for me to be learning about this process than learning how to fully love someone. I’d rather love abundantly and let the sadness of separation be a symptom of that love, rather than struggle with finding depth in relationships.
From a practical standpoint, this is good practice for when Aaron gets on a ship (reminder: Coast Guard) and is out to sea for months at a time! Practice makes perfect…right? 🙂 My personal situation aside, though, I hope we can all remember to find beauty in missing people, joy in our days without them, surrender in our helplessness, wisdom in the learning process, and strength in our Creator.
Now I’m off to hit the sand and enjoy this gorgeous day, even if it is still three days shy of Wednesday!