Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Another Existential Analysis

Dear John,
 
I'm back. The animals were in bed but now they're up chasing each other around the house. I know I have more to say to you tonight. I'm not sure just what, so I guess we'll find out together.
 
I have the crock pot out to remind me to put some boneless pork ribs in tomorrow morning. And I looked at it a minute ago and wondered why I was bothering with it. I know I have to eat, and when I can do something healthy with what was on sale yesterday, that's even better. But what my head was trying to say is that care for nutrition implies that life is precious and has meaning and purpose, none of which I can say about mine, so why bother? I'm just taking up space until it's time for me to go. It sounds terrible to say that I'll spend my life waiting to die, but it's the truth. I'll do what good presents itself for me to do, try to do no harm, focus on repentance and humility, and take up space. My purpose was you - you were the reason I went to work, managed the house, cooked and cleaned, did laundry, decorated, canned, sewed and quilted, did home improvements, took care of myself, got up in the morning.
 
Now I am taking a step of faith when I get out of bed every day - that anybody will care that I'm up, that there will be opportunities for me to do good, that what I do will matter to anybody, that the necessities of life will somehow be provided for me, that if I die that day I will go to Heaven, that if I don't die that day there will be a reason for me to get out of bed the next day.
 
Remember those charity walks that were so popular in the 1970s? After a couple of those I discovered that walking is really a process of putting one foot out and falling on it. That's what all of my days feel like now. I get up and put one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, in faith that there will be meaning and purpose somewhere, and that there will be provision for my earthly needs there, too. Every step is pure faith, and every routine is an attempt to keep chaos at bay. I can look ahead and see no way that I can matter to anyone, and also see no way for me to get by financially. I try to refuse despair and hopelessness, and cling to faith. Every minute that I live without you is a leap of faith. I'm flying through the air using my Orthodox scarf as a parachute, living on a prayer - no moorings, no home, no support, no witnesses. I take my daily leap of faith and I'm as alone as a raptor in the sky.
 
When you have to live that way, you don't think about the future much. And you limit how much you think about the past because it was so good and you can't live with the contrast between it and the present. And things that were terribly important become meaningless. You know we worked so hard for our top-notch credit rating. Now that I'm widowed, I probably don't have a credit rating at all. So this is the perfect time to tell the two billing entities that are trying to cheat me that your estate is liable for payment, your estate had no assets, therefore was not probated - basically, here's the stone; good luck getting blood out of it. And that wretched timeshare my parents insisted on leaving me, after we'd begged them to sell it - I'm not paying over $1000 in fees any more years for. I'm defaulting on it. Or somebody is. No matter how much documentation we sent them after Daddy died, they refused to take it out of his name. And no matter how much we told them that I was the heir, they put it in your name instead of mine. So the two people they insist are the owners are both dead, and the latest one left no estate. I don't care a mite about my credit rating. I have no debt except the mortgage, pay my bills on time, and pay off my one credit card every month.
 
But none of it matters. There are people here that I care about, some that I love dearly. But it's not the kind of love where you give all you are and have to the other person - not like it was with you. I was indispensable to you, but I'm certainly not to anyone else. So I'm like a living ghost, an accidental being whose purpose is in the past, hanging around the edges of the group and barely visible, a relic of another time, and an unpleasant reminder of mortality. I am completely superfluous. So I take up space, and try to do so graciously, pleasantly, and as productively as possible, while leaving as little footprint as I can.
 
It is starkly clear to me that all I have is God - to care for me, to care about me, to provide for me. And the more clearly I see that God is all that I have, the more peaceful I am in knowing that God is all I need. I have no one else to look to for aid, support, love, comfort. and provision; and I need no one else because He is all-sufficient. I have no one else to cling to, and I'm realizing that I need no one else. He is the God of widows and orphans. I take great comfort in that.
 
So my life is at once both very rich and completely empty. I have dear friends and am absolutely alone. I have a handful of legal and financial crises going on and I don't care one whit. In my world there is love and there is faith. That's all. Everything else went to the wall over a year ago. Just love and faith. Only love and faith.
 
I love you for listening,
Joan.

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