It doesn't feel like winter until I awake in the crisp air of the Bay Area where I grew up. Enveloped in fog with the cool moisture all around, it feels like early morning all day long, until darkness arrives without warning. It slows everything down. There is no time. It is a season that brings on reflection, whether I welcome it or not. Every emotion sits with me more succinctly. The joys of being an uncle to my niece and nephew are more touching. The warmth of family more comforting. Laughter is richer. And sadness deeper.
Christmas Day was surreal. There was happiness in gift giving and playing with the kids, but every time I was by myself in the car or in the yard, I found myself unable to keep from crying; tears down my cheeks like I can't remember having in a long time. I am in mourning. I hiked in Muir Woods today, and could not escape for one minute a thought of the girl and her daughter that I loved so much. In what little sleep I have had, my dreams have been tortured with visions of another man making love to the one that I loved. Her deceit and coldness have cut me to my knees, and I'm so ashamed that my emotions are so debilitating. I am a strong man, and could stand up to almost any test save this one. But we do not get to choose the ways in which we are tested, nor the condition we are in when the test comes. But we are responsible for meeting the challenge with the strength we have. My self criticism and shame over being so affected by this situation is hurting my ability to grow and recover. Today, I lived in my pain without trying to distract or numb myself. I surrounded myself with redwoods and creeks, but allowed myself to be in mourning over my loss, without the guilt usually associated with that pain. I allowed myself to feel the pain of rejection and regret. The realizations of the last few weeks are still new to me, and it is right for me to feel this pain and loss.
To choose to love is to take a risk. I never had thought of it like that. I guess I thought that if you loved, good would eventually come of it. But love is so powerful, partly because it is a risk. I would be foolish to sign up for a relationship like this one again, and had I been healthy, it would not have lasted a month, but I am not ashamed of the way I loved. I am proud of it, actually, but I risked the loss and pain that I feel now. I made myself very vulnerable to my insecurities by sharing so much of myself. This is the consequence. I will find ways to love and to serve, but out of health and strength and led by God instead of my own weaknesses. The more I allow myself to feel and experience the dark of this night, as painful as it is, the sooner morning will come.