This is not a post related to Berlin. Although, in some ways it is. I will be gone for 11 weeks this summer, and Jonathan is patiently taking care of the cats at home. He knew this kind of thing would happen – we had only been dating for 5 months and living together for 3.5 weeks when I packed up and left him the cats to go dig with my dad and brother in Israel. That was for 5 weeks. The second summer, it was for 6.5. The summer after we got married I stayed home and this summer it is for 11. I hope to do a Fulbright, and if Jonathan cannot find a way to work overseas, next year I will be gone for 10 months. Lots of couples do it, my sister has done it, that doesn’t make it easy at all, but it’s what happens.
But here is the point, brought on by something else I have been thinking. In early April, the 4th or 5th, of the first year we were dating, so only about 3 full months after we had been dating, I received a crushing call. (Background: In Florida I had been a youth minister for a while, and, therefore, had a ton of kids that I loved and who loved me and whom I thought of constantly). One of my kids had been beaten with a bat. Crushed the back of his skull. He was in a coma at the hospital and it was likely he would not survive. I immediately burst into tears and the next few weeks/months, were me obsessing about brain damage, looking things up on the internet, calling my parents, sending emails. Jonathan? Right there the whole time. I mean, I got obsessive, and it made me swear off having kids (if it was this tough when one wasn’t even my own…) I talked about it all the time. Side note: said person is doing quite well. The brain damage is still a little unknown, but he is in college, working and a functioning member of society. It is one thing to say you love someone, it is another thing to know someone for 3.5 months and be drawn into this kind of drama.
About a year after that, well, a little more, we were engaged and a good friend/mentor was brutally murdered. Jonathan? Right there through every nightmare I would have (and I would have them nightly for over a year). Right there when I would see something and it would trigger a cascade of tears. Right there through every bit of the trial info I fed him. Right here. (That trail ended a few days ago and the man who murdered my friend switched his plea to guilty and received life with no chance of parole and no appeals). That happened in July of 2010, a few days after my birthday.
In October of that same year a friend of our family’s died, a good friend. She actually managed to take her own life after a long battle with cancer and after St. Vincent’s closed and she no longer had access to easy healthcare in NYC. After someone lost her chart that said she couldn’t have Percocet, it made her actually crazy, and after the hospital gave it to her again, because they didn’t have all her records – because St. Vincent’s closed down. I went to her apartment with her brother and spent, no joke, every day for a week cleaning it out. I cleaned out someone else’s apartment. Someone not related to me. I found her divorce papers, her personal statements – it was…emotionally breaking. I came home every day exhausted and angry that her brother wasn’t doing much to help. I then got most of her personal artwork and was tasked with distributing it to her friends, I suppose because I was the youngest person there. I also gave the eulogy at her memorial, because her brother hadn’t planned anything, not really. I found out I was doing that about 10 minutes beforehand. And Jonathan? Sitting next to me in the front row. Driving the car with her stuff in it. Coming down to her place after work. Understanding that between wedding planning and various deaths I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown – which I finally had.
This isn’t how I knew Jonathan was “The One” because a) that implies predestination and b) it implies not much work has to be put in and c) it implies our fate is not ours to make – see A. But Jonathan is the dude who can put up with more tragedy in my life than most others probably can. These things profoundly affect how I am at home, what I can and cannot do. It started early on, and it probably won’t end (I grew up in a big church so I know a lot of people), but he is always here. Never short on hugs and kisses. Always quick to fold me in an embrace. Doing his own research to help me understand (that was the first one – the possible brain damage or death, we weren’t sure at first). Anyway, don’t know what prompted this: probably because I have been sick here in Berlin and, Jonathan, as usual is doing what he can from afar.