In perverse honor of Valentine's Day, I am thinking about people who bail, who run, who seemingly abandon the people they love right at the very moments those people need them most. You know the idea that in times of crisis you learn who your real friends are? It is completely flawed. People run. People shut their eyes and their hearts and run as fast as they can from your pain. And this is precisely because that person who runs as fast as she possibly can run loves you and cannot bear your pain any more than you can. Our ideas about loyalty and responsibility and sticking by those we love are largely bullshit.
It takes a certain kind of relationship or a certain kind of person to stay. I stay by my father's side during his illness because he is my father and because my very being--whatever that being is, emotions or bones--breaks at the idea of him being in pain and alone. The person who sticks by my side through this, though, can only be a person (I truly believe) who has been through this and who furthermore knows what to do. The person who loves me and who witnesses this kind of pain in me and has no experience with seeing a very close loved one suffering and dying, maybe that person runs for her life. To survive. To breathe. To laugh. To live. To stave off this kind of knowledge. Who can understand human suffering? Who can try to understand it and not go insane?
I am no longer trying to understand my father's suffering. I am just trying to be there to witness it. To be with him so that he is not alone in it. And I am also beginning to understand why someone would bail out on being a witness to my witnessing. The idea that she would stay if she loved me? It's bullshit. I am angry and hurt and I feel alone, but I believe in the beauty of bailing and the love that may or may not be behind it. I do. Run and breathe and laugh and love and live. Bail.