July is the month we say goodbye to writers who are retiring or moving on to new adventures, and this is Brad’s last post. He has been writing with us since the very beginning in July 2013.
Last night you wept, and inside, I did too. For a moment, the dining room floor dropped out from under us, and we transported back to those nights in 2013 or 2014. Those nights when I would lay on the ground and all hope seemed lost; when everything seemed to slip through my fingers like sand; when I wept, and inside, and outside, you did too.
Last night you said, “That was so hard for me,” and I knew that then and I know that now, but I refused to open myself up to help. Well, I didn’t refuse, but I didn’t know how. I would wake up in the morning, and the mesmeric dawn would shine in through the shades, and the disorienting fog of the night before would fade. So you bore the brunt of those obsidian nights (and days); they flashed volcanic, dark, and brittle.
And it occurred to me as the ground spun beneath us last night—as gravity gave out, as we time-traveled together (we know that time-travel has always been real)—that our union cannot ever be perfect. We are too human.
While traveling back to those nights, I realized (again) that I have hurt you even while doing my best to never hurt you, that in some inscrutable way we have collided and taken on every fragmented dimension of the collision. In the afterglow of our lives coming together, the pieces have collected around us, and we absorb them: there, a substantial shard of the most incredible joy, irreducible and everything we’ve ever dreamed of; but there, an unavoidable shard of deep pain.
Perfect, though, is an idyllic dream. We have always known that, haven’t we? Maybe not always, like the time when you said we’re bound to bump and bruise each other, and I got upset. You were right, of course, and that’s in part what I’m trying to communicate here: we are bound to bump and bruise each other on our travels. We have done it before and we will do it again. We are not perfect. To try and be so would be idol worship. We are not perfect.
But we are together, time-travelling through every piece and plane of existence. Last night, we sank into a darker place, but not to live there for long, not to make that place our dwelling. We travelled there to instead remember that we made it out, or to say it more honestly, that we made it through. Those nights are still with us now, but not to haunt us. No, I promise, never to haunt us.
Then, at some point in our spin last night, we caught our collective breath. And we were in the dining room again, in the present. We caught our breath. We laughed. You let the dog out one last time before we slept.
This one, the last one, is for you. Really, they are all for you.
Brad Zwiers (’12) graduated from Calvin College in 2012 and Western Theological Seminary in 2015. He will not be graduating from any more schools. He often stares at books he wishes he could read but knows he will not finish and goes for long walks with his wife, Gwyn. Sometimes he plays basketball and always he follows the greatest sporting club in the world, Liverpool F.C.