If there was ever a phrase that suited me to-a-T, it would have to be when Kevin Mclasiter said to his mom, "This house is so full of people, it makes me sick! When I grow up and get married, I'm living alone!" Married but alone, huh? Interesting concept. At some point in life, we perhaps were all so fed-up with our family that we wished they would all disappear. But true to form, in an ironic twist of fate, those Wet Bandit's would be right there. Lurking through the windows of our souls, whispering ever so mischievously, "Merry Christmas, little fella. We know that you're in there and that you're all alone."
You see, it was all fun and games having the house to himself until young Kevin found that he was stuck between a rock and a hard place with seemingly no one to help him. The thing is, he would not have survived if it weren't for that one neighbour Old Man Marley who, in fact, he was afraid of because of some rumour. But ask yourself, are you disregarding people because of what you've heard or what you know to be true about them? Are you doing life alone by chance, or is it by choice—well, pride?
It's beginning to look a lot like ......
As the atmosphere shifts in preparation for the yuletide season, I did as I've done in years gone by and began reflecting on the previous 11 months. Spring was a blur, and Summer, well, was like sleeping with Fuller, who wet the bed. As such, I will probably never forget turning forty as long as I live. Forty came, and let me tell you, this was NOT it. It was a far cry from glamours and showy. You know, the turn-up I pictured in my mind. Eons ago, I imagined I'd have some lavish shindig with a cute invite sent to my closet's frenemies and dem. Outfitted with a fancy dinner in a swanky restaurant's private dining room, decorated to the 'Raquel's seal of perfection.' Cute swag bags for the ladies, a fitting keepsake for the gents, and somehow coming up with clever wordplay to add 'tea' to the number forty would have been the icing on the cake. Alas, it was all a dream (in my Biggie's voice), perhaps, maybe, surely—forty-one will be better.
Sufficit to say, at the end of the first month of this coveted milestone age (insert roll eye emoji), I was hit with an illness. One that made me all but sure Jesus had sent a memo requesting my presence in the heavenlies. What the fa-la-la-la is wrong with me now? While a large part of me thought, "OMG, I caught COVID!" another part of me refused to believe life would be this cruel. Still, none of that stopped the fear of sorts that gripped me because, let's face it, ain't like my immune system is Armor-All-strong. Shoot, with all this uncertainty looming, all I could think to do was make sure my insurance was up-to-date. Thankfully it wasn't the menacing "Rona," but it sure was her annoying distant cousin Buzz, better known as food poisoning.
Lonely lives where it resides
As I was wrapped in bed, weak and fatigued, I have to admit living alone was not so glamorous now. The little girl in me that become motherless at eight-years-old cried real tears for her mommy! It wasn't a low point of failure or loneliness, nor that I needed anything tangible. Still, it was a rare moment of immense vulnerability that I had not felt in an awfully long time. Like Kevin, while I am grown, I lied there wishing my mama could come home already. At that moment, I would have welcomed her unsolicited advice and interpretation in any one of my life's debacles. I was even ready to apologize to her for stuff that she had no idea I did. Being all by myself (in my Celine Dion voice) at that moment reminded me yet again why God told Adam it was not good for man to be alone.
There I was, conjuring-up a whole alternate life in my head—you know, like we do when we meet a new fella. I imagined what life would have been like if I had the opportunity to see our mother/daughter relationship go from guidance to friendship. The kind where I could, by the skin of my teeth, get away with calling her by her first name. "Mary, you won't believe the mess that happened today!" And when things went all the way left because I totally ignored her superb advice from the onset, I would have given anything to hear her say, "Child, will you ever learn?"
As I consistently rotated in my bed like a rotisserie chicken for all of 7 days, the evenings turned to morning, and one thing became more evident. People need people. Although there may be 7.5 billion people on the planet, statistics show the loneliest people aren't single. One never knows it's possible 'til it happens to you. At the beginning of the end in one of my past relationships, I can recall it being one of the loneliest periods of my life. It sounds crazy to talk to someone, see them, touch them, but still feel alone. Yet there was a time in that same relationship where if we never uttered a word but was just in the same room, I felt full and loved. So how does one get through these low moments of despair? How do you rally up after an emotional train wreck that has left you with a case of temporary paralysis?
I've gone through many seasons in my life, from the need to be the accepted teen to the unsure young adult. I went from the defiant adult who needed to be a part of the in-crowd to the quiet observer. I've gone from the pretender to the truth-teller (it's segmented though—can't tell you'll all my business) to toggling comfortably as an ambivert. I'm finally the introverted extrovert who knows when either side of her must show up. One thing I know for certain, you have to embrace every moment, in every season of your life. Become one with all of it. So, I made my peace with the silence, and I'm satisfied with my circle, that's a dot. I'm okay with the non-dates, followed by no good morning texts. So unlike most, I've not suffered from cabin fever, and quarantining has not been pure torture. For me, staying indoors for days on end with little to no human interaction has been productive.
I get that not everyone can do that. It's no secret that a whole lot of folks are having the heebie-jeebies because they can't socialize on a larger scale. While I appreciate going out or merely just having the option, many of my life's circumstances have conditioned me to be content in whatever state I find myself. (Philippians 4:11-12). Being alone does not make me any less alive than if it was 1980, and I had just bounced out of the womb.
As in nature, life comes in seasons. And as my prolific author friend Solomon penned it, "To everything, there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven." See, without the loss, I'd not know how to appreciate the wins. Without the lows, the highs would just be considered some stroke of good luck. Without the illness, health would be taken for granted, and I would easily forget that because of those issues, having a heart of gratitude is more valuable than the lesson itself. Without Kevin having to face all that he did in that short time, he would not appreciate that the very people who he'd found so annoying all made this thing call life work.
I'll be home for Christmas
It's not the living alone that causes loneliness; it's what's happening in your mind that determines the outcome. The difference is that "lonely" describes a feeling, and "alone" is a single person or object. Like I always say, feelings are fickle; they will betray you. Otherwise, how can a person be in a room full of people and yet think they are all by themselves? Simple, they let the emotion take over. I was feeling sick and wanted my mommy. But my reality was she wasn't there, and she wasn't there for a long time. Sad to say, she won't be ever again, and I would be a fool to stay in that funk—crying over something that no longer is. Unlike Kevin, his family was trying to move heaven and earth to get back to him. Alone is temporary, while loneliness can linger if you let it. Even Kevin was over it, his Christmas wish came down to one sincere request, "Will you please tell Santa that instead of presents this year, I just want my family back."
The best takeaway from the entire movie had to be Kevin's awareness of the importance of family. While he impulsively wished his family away, Kevin was the inspiration behind Old Man Marley reconnecting with his son and granddaughter during the holidays. While Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you, it is also written, 'Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.' Colossians 3:13 NLT Translation: if it's broken, you have time to make amends. Your 'alone' may not be like Kevin's, but you don't have to fight the Wet Bandits alone. There are people out there willing to have your back if only you'd let them. Nourish your existing relationships, and you'll be surprised to see how they'll bloom! You can go home for Christmas and it doesn't have to be only in your dreams.