Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Burn.
The past few days have been some of the craziest of my life…to date. Someone’s established a telepathic connection with me. I can hear him, feel him, but I’m not sure he can hear me. Only time will tell. It’s strange and odd and wonderful and frightening.
But by far the scariest has been the future I’ve been shown. It’s full of joy and pain and wonder. It’s also paralyzing. Or could be.
On a walk with Shannon today, we compared dating among teens and dating among people over 30. Pardon my paraphrasing, but for teens, she alleged, you date someone you like just because you like them and not because they may be the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. You just enjoy them for the time you have with them.
For us, um, grown-ups, she alleges we think everybody we have a relationship with has to have some possibility of being the one we’ll be with for the rest of our lives. It can’t simply be for the moment or for the experience. We refuse to date someone who has a different religion or a different view of parenting or politics because we might get attached and the relationship might fail.
I try to tell her it’s a little more complicated once you’re out of college. Over 30, you do have to consider whether he’s been bankrupt or if his job will conflict with yours or how many addictions he has that will have an ill effect on your own kids. And I agree that I’m not inclined to waste my time on men who’ll give me nothing but grief about my beliefs and about who I am.
“If you could see into the future,” she asks, “and know that in one year, the relationship would be over but for that year, everything will be incredible, would you still go forward with the relationship?”
It’s an easy question to answer if you can’t see the future. But what if you can? What if you know without a doubt how incredible it will be and that it will last far longer than a year, but that there will be some moments of incredible pain? It’s easy to say yes, you’d pursue the relationship, when you see the joys.
But when you see the pain?
When you know that because you’ll love someone that deeply, you will know what it’s like to have your heart cut out at the loss of a child? Or that one day will be the first day of having to look across the breakfast table at an empty chair for the rest of your life? That the only thing that holds you together sometimes is the gravity of your love for each other?
What then? What happens when you can see not just the moments that make life worthwhile, but the moments that challenge whether you want a life at all? Do you decide to remove any chance of hurting, ever, by refusing the relationship before it ever happens? Refusing to know the kind of love that would render that depth of feeling and teach you intense pain? Better to feel nothing at all?
So that’s the question that’s more troubling for me. Not a what-if question you’d ask rhetorically but a real question you might ask of someone with psychic abilities. Let’s make it a question with real stakes, high stakes, stakes through the heart.
I can’t answer it simply. All I can think is that I hope I’m not sitting across the table one day from an empty chair and cursing myself for the days I wasted making up my mind.