There is no word in the English language for the opposite of loneliness.
The reason for this is because most people have not experienced it, and don’t know it exists. But I do.
Half my life ago I lost the person who had been by my side my whole life (because he had been born four minutes before me), and I learned what loneliness meant.
It meant I had to be Brave every day.
Like all of us, I run out of Brave sometimes. Chiefly around Thanksgiving, when Brave hurts and Brave is just too hard. It is much easier to put my head on my desk and let the tears come (because I am in the back and in the corner and no one can really see me, especially when everyone is gone for the Holiday). But having Brave is also letting the tears come and letting the Boy I Live With see the tears, even though it is hard for him to have Brave right now, too. Brave is finally admitting that for two weeks every November, I run all out of Brave. Every day.
This year, the year he will be dead just as long as he was alive, I have no Brave at all. This year, I have anger, and fear, and distrust and yes, even some hatred.
But no Brave.
This year it is worse than it was the year after The Worst Year when I fought to have Brave. I have given up fighting to have Brave.
And that might just BE having Brave.
When I finally realized that Brave is not a tightrope and that even if I fell, I could get back up, it was when I realized I wanted to talk about why I have to have Brave. I began to take a step towards it by thinking about his hands.
Long fingered and strong, they told a story about the man he would never become. They could fix cars, light switches and my broken hearts. They caught balls at first base and threw them to me at third. They danced in front of his face as told a story, and flashed like silver dragonflies through the water as he swam. Mostly, they held my hand, or shoulder and made me feel safe as if no matter what, he had me.
They were wrong, those hands.
It is funny the things you remember about a person.
I take another step by letting myself curl up on the bed and wail when no one else is home. Another by leaving work, even though I have a lot of projects to get through. Another by going to the gym and hitting it so hard all I can do when I get home is go to sleep. Another by texting my priest to tell him I am hurting. Another by seeing my mentor who tells me that I have a tendency to seek the negative, and create myself as a victim sometimes. Well, shit. I hate that so much. Twin would have knocked on my forehead and told me to find some Brave.
So I do.
I take another step. And another. Soon, I will be walking towards it.
I will walk towards Brave, not with the breathless breakneck speed of the abandoned and scared (even though I am sometimes). I will walk with the purposeful stride of trying just a little bit more, of doing it Now, of knowing I have to suck.
Walking towards the Brave means taking the path towards the opportunities I thought I couldn’t realize. I now work for a company that wants me to travel, so I am able to get to the places I thought we would go together. It means turning myself back to the girl he loved by being a Badass. It means allowing for the small moments of Joy and Grace. It means creating the relationships with men that I haven’t allowed myself because they were not Him. (It’s stupid. I know. Feelings are not always smart.)
I walk knowing that the journey to Brave is just as important as getting to the person, or relationship, or ambition.
It isn’t brave to settle anymore. It never was. It is brave to show up and suck. And then suck a little less the next day. I know that it is okay to fall off sometimes and that I will not hit Bottom. Because, Bottom? Bottom was where I started.
And I’m not finished.