I have always believed that we are all connected – that every one of us on this earth, connects to each other in both tiny and ginormous ways – sometimes without even knowing it or realizing it. Some connections are obvious right away, others become more obvious with time, and still others are a puzzle to be figured out at a later date. Whatever the case, I strongly believe that people find other people that they were meant to find, and that they sometimes connect with those people in very unexpected or non-traditional ways.
Which brings me to what happened this morning. I woke up this morning going through some triggers. Nightmares and insomnia and anxiety – all part of the life of me – a survivor of both rape, and the sudden death of my husband. The two worst things to ever happen in my life, both happened in the middle of the night (or super early morning, technically), while I was asleep. One in 1996, the other in 2011. They both affect my life on a daily basis.
This morning, after getting through the triggers with the help of a friend, I couldn’t stop crying. I just felt so damaged. So broken. So torn apart by loss and grief and trauma, that I was sitting there wondering to myself, if anyone would every truly love me again in my lifetime. And I dont mean that they SAY they love me, but then turn out to be someone who lies to me and has zero respect for me as a human being and treats me like I’m stupid, but someone who actually, really, truly does love me. Will that exist again in my universe, or was my dead husband the only one?
So after this sob-fest of mine, I finally logged onto Facebook to get my daily dose of angry people yelling about politics and the like, and the first thing I see is a post by my husband Don’s sister, Cynthia. Now, in order for this story to mean anything to anyone reading this, I must tell you that Don and his sister Cynthia never got to meet each other in person. To make a very long story somewhat short, my husband Don was the product of an affair. Cynthia and Don shared the same father. Don’s father kept Don’s existence a secret from his family, so Cynthia had no idea that she had a brother, until her father died in 2006, the year that Don and I got married.
Don’s father never really had much of a relationship with Don as an adult, and this was hurtful to Don, because he just wanted to feel some love and acknowledgement from his dad. He never really got that. I had invited Don’s father to our wedding, and I sent him a letter telling him how much it would mean to his son if he was there on his wedding day. He never responded, and he never showed up to the wedding. Because he had died just weeks before it. But because nobody in his family knew Don existed, nobody told Don that his father was dead.
Two years later, in 2008, we received a letter in the mail from someone named Cynthia, who had the same last name as my husband. She informed Don that she was looking through her dad’s things, after his death, and she came across my letter. In it, I had included pictures of me and Don. Cynthia read the letter and saw that the man in the pictures looked just like her dad. She put two and two together, and wrote Don a letter saying: “I think we are half-siblings. Im so sorry to tell you that our father has died.”
Over the next couple of years, Don and Cynthia had some phone conversations, and stayed in touch on Facebook, trying to piece together the details of the affair between Don’s mother and their father. Her and I began talking as well. But because she and her husband lived in Alabama and we were in NY, Don and his new-found sister, never met. We were planning a trip to make that happen, but then Don’s sudden death happened instead.
In 2014, I made the trip alone to go and meet my sister-in-law. It was incredibly heart-wrenching, emotional, and amazing. Even though they never met each other and barely got to know each other, they had so many things in common. They were both musicians. They both played guitar. They have the same skin type, and the same eyes. When I hugged her, it felt like hugging him. They both are obsessed with “Christmas Vacation” and can quote all the lines. They use similar phrases. They both love animals, especially cats. They are both incredibly kind and funny, and don’t hold any bitterness in life, even though they both have reason to. Even though they never got to meet each other and didnt know the other existed most of their lives, they were connected. In some odd, unique, beautiful way. They were connected.
So, back to what Cynthia posted on her Facebook page. It was an image. It is one of those meme things, with an image and a quote. She posted it, and then wrote above it: “This just spoke to me today. I absolutely love this!” The picture is of a pretty bowl, with broken marks in it, which are then covered by a golden color. The quote says the following:
“In Japan, broken objects are often repaired with gold. The flaw is seen as a unique piece of the object’s history, which adds to it’s beauty. Consider this, when you feel broken.”
Now, not only was this the exact message I needed to hear today, while feeling more broken than ever, but it instantly sparked a memory for me inside my heart, which absolutely blew me away. My husband Don was an Air Force veteran, who spent about 10 years serving his country. About 3 of those years were spent in Japan, where he was stationed as a Flight Crew Chief for the F-17. While there, he picked up on and held a high regard for a lot of Japanese customs and traditions. When I read and saw what Cynthia had posted, my mind went back in time. Back to a morning, sometime around 2005. Don had just moved his entire life from Florida, up to New Jersey, to start a new life with me. We weren’t engaged just yet, but it was a cold morning, and it wasnt quite Christmas time. I strongly believe that the morning that came into my mind, was a morning in November, much like this morning in November, today. I had just woken up screaming, after having one of my flashbacks / nightmares about the rape. It was a nightmare I had often. I would wake up with the very real feeling that I was being choked. I would wake up screaming and gasping for air. On that particular November morning, my not-yet, but soon-to-be husband, held my head in his lap, stroked my hair, and kept whispering: “Everything is going to be okay, Bunny Boo. Im here. Im never leaving you. And you are safe forever. Nobody is going to harm you. You’re safe with me. ”
After I stopped crying enough to where I could say words again, I asked him sincerely: “Why do you love me? I’m so damaged and broken. I feel like it would be a huge chore for anyone to love me. I don’t feel like I’m lovable to someone.”
My soon-to-be, beautiful husband, held my face with two hands, wiped away my tears, and said to me these words:
“You know, in Japan, they have this belief about being broken. If there’s a bowl or a vase or a table or anything really, and it has broken pieces, they repair those broken pieces with pieces of gold. They don’t believe that flaws or broken pieces are negative things. They believe it’s those pieces that help make up a huge part of the object’s history, so that history makes them unique and beautiful and special. Without the broken parts, they wouldnt be as special. So, the repairs are done with love and with patience, and not done to ‘fix’ the item, but done to help bring out it’s shine again. Thats what the gold is for. You’re not a chore to me. You’re beautifully broken, and it’s an honor to be just a small part of the reason that you shine again. ”
That is the man I married. And that is the man that Cynthia never got to meet. But all these years later, on a cold November morning, much like the cold November morning back in 2005, Don’s sister was moved and touched by the exact same concept and idea, that her brother was moved by, years before that, back in Japan.
They may have never met, but they are forever connected.
By the way, my husband’s birthday is Sunday.
So, two days before that fateful day that he was conceived by product of an affair, thereby connecting him and his sister for the first time, 52 years ago – he and his sister connect again. And again, and again, and again.
We are all connected.
That is what Love does.