Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tapestry of the Heart

Any human life situation
is like the momentary position of a kaleidoscope;
and the group of souls within that situation
are like the bits of brightly colored glass
which form an interesting pattern of relationship.
Then the kaleidoscope is shaken . . .
and with this flick of the wrist there comes into being
a new design, a new combination of elements.
And so on, again and again, time after time,
always different . . . always it is significant, and always
there is a dynamic and purposeful intention. ”
~Gina Cerminara, PhD, Many Lives, Many Loves

Tapestry of the Heart
New York, New York
I met Connor on a plane from New York City.  At the time, I was dating an aspiring young photographer whom I had met on the beach in Florida months before.  He had flown to New York to surprise me for Valentine’s Day.  I was surprised alright; especially when I learned over dinner that he hated children so much that he had taken medically necessary steps to make sure he didn’t father any. 

There I was, at yet another relationship crossroads trying to sort out the truth of my desires.  Did I even want to have children?  Did I see myself as a mother?  What was motivating my decision?

We had argued when I broke up with him.  The next day, he insisted that I accompany him to Ground Zero.  In an effort to appeal his case, he reminded me that the people who went to work there on September 11th fully expected to return home that night.  “Life is uncertain,” he said.  “How do you even know that you can have children?”  True, he had a point, and we really did have fun together.  But logic notwithstanding, a red flag waived in my mind’s eye.

The Meeting

So it was on my return flight to Florida that Connor introduced himself.  He was my age, single, ruggedly handsome, had never been married but wanted to be, and he adored children.  He couldn’t wait to have a family of his own, information he proudly volunteered over in-flight cocktails.  We talked non-stop, and by the time we arrived at the gate in Atlanta it was as if we were old friends.  He asked if he could call me sometime; he would look me up the next time he came to Florida.  I gave him my number and we parted ways.

Meanwhile, I was in a state of flux.  I knew I needed to call things off (again) with the photographer, but I was swayed by indecision and basically avoiding the inevitable.  Then Connor called.

It had been more than a month since we met.  I had thought of him often, remembering his passion for children and family and finding comfort in that.  So when he called to tell me that he would be in my area at the end of the month, I readily accepted his invitation for dinner and, that night, I ended things with the photographer.

But Connor and I never did have that dinner.  His trip was delayed.  I went to L.A.  We re-scheduled.  His flight was cancelled.  I went back to New York.  We rescheduled.  Through it all we continued to speak by phone almost every day for three months until, finally, we came up with a plan:  A double concert weekend with James Taylor in Atlanta and Elton John in Pensacola.  We planned every detail, excited to see each other again when I returned from New York.    

A Love Connection

Then one night about a week before our date, Connor and I were talking on the phone and the subject turned to love.  Have you ever been in love?” I asked.

Connor laughed, and then told me of his childhood sweetheart Karley.  They had grown up together, both from large Irish-Catholic families.  In the 4th grade, she had given him a homemade Valentine, and he kissed her.  They were inseparable after that, dating throughout high school and college.  The summer after graduate school, she gave him a Celtic friendship ring and proposed marriage.  He accepted.  A year later, Connor called the whole thing off.

“Why?”  I asked.

“She didn’t want to have children.”

“Is that the only reason you broke things off?” I pried.

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“What would make her not want to have children?” I furthered.

Well, she had just finished grad school and was about to start a new job . . .”

“How long has it been since you’ve seen her?” I coaxed.

At least four years, but I hear about her from time to time through mutual friends.”

What would you do if she came back to you and said, ‘Connor, I’ve changed my mind; I do want children’?” I posed.
“Honestly? I don’t know.  I’ve never considered that.  When she said ‘no children,’ all bets were off.  What about you?” he asked, changing the subject, “When was your last relationship?"

I told him about my recent break-up with the photographer for similar reasons, and we marveled at the parallel.  But I couldn’t ignore the small voice within warning me that Connor was not mine to love.

Calling All Angels

Two days before our long-anticipated first date Connor called, “I’ve got good news, and bad news,” he said.

“Okay, let me have it; good news first.” 

“Well, Monday, after we spoke, I couldn’t quit thinking about your questions. They stirred up a lot of painful memories for me.  I stayed up all night reading old letters and looking at pictures of Karley . . . of us . . . just thinking about things.  Then, yesterday, I called her.  We talked for six hours and guess what?  She’s sick of Manhattan; bored with the corporate world.  She wants to have children!  She’s ready to begin that part of her life! No joke.  We’re meeting in Hilton Head this weekend, can you believe it?”

“Oh my goodness, that’s . . . wonderful?”  I said, shocked yet fascinated!

“And so the bad news is, well, I’m canceling our date.  Are you mad?”

“Are you kidding?  How could I be mad?  The whole time you were talking about Karley, I knew she was your soul mate.  Just promise that you’ll keep me posted; let me know what happens.”  He promised that he would.

The following Tuesday Connor called with news of his engagement.  “We have you to thank,” he said.  “I told Karley that if it hadn’t been for your questions, I never would have called her.  You’re an angel; really, I think you’re an angel.” 

I was so happy for them, yet I could hardly believe it was true.  I had met this guy once on a plane and hadn’t seen him since.  Now here we were, more than 3 months later, sharing this incredible moment of transformation. I would never view my relationships the same again.

Giving Thanks

Today I am humbled as I reflect on my life, filled with gratitude for the brilliant threads linking past, present and future, and as I step confidently in the direction of my dreams, hand-in-hand with my beloved, I know that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be, comforted by the delicate intertwining of spirits, meaningful and purpose-driven.  

In the end I've learned it's true:  No matter the outcome, when we’re open and willing to look beyond our immediate needs, our connections with others will bring the most significant opportunities for self-discovery, expand our capacity for human understanding, and leave the greatest space for love.