I’ve been carrying around a remnant of my chuppah (wedding canopy) in my bag since I left Seattle in late August. It’s a piece a green fabric that my friend Rainey embroidered. It reads “honey grace.”
I remember asking her what it meant when she gave it to me 10 years ago. She said, “You know… Honey. Grace.” I didn’t know.
I had wanted Lee and I to disassemble the chuppah together as a separation ritual when we divorced. He thought it was too painful. So on my last day in Seattle, I sat alone on my deck overlooking Bainbridge Island, holding a seam ripper and my chuppah, and I pulled off the panel reading “honey grace.” It tore at the edges. I thought it both symbolic and poetic. Like Jews ripping their clothing when a loved one has died.
This morning, as we were preparing to go the hospital, my biological Aunt Julie shared some of her fears and feelings with me in terms of having courageous conversations with her sister, my biological mother, who is dying. I told her something I had learned in church basements – to bring her G-d along with her in all her endeavors today. I added that when she does, her heart has no choice but to stay open, and she will experience grace. And I showed her my scrap of green embroidered fabric and told her its story.
Later today, I went to one of those church basements.
I was expecting to see S. today – the cute boy/man I met Friday night here in Charleston. We had talked and made out like teenagers until the wee hours of the morning in the parking lot of a frozen yogurt shop. The next day he drove two hours roundtrip to spend three hours with me, and asked if he could see me today. And then never texted or called.
He had seemed like honey in my time of sorrow. And he was.
Grace was me not waiting around on him. I went for a walk. Talked to some friends and heard myself say out loud I hadn’t done anything wrong. That this was “his stuff.” And that just because he wasn’t showing up today, didn’t mean that yesterday and the day before wasn’t real. That it wasn’t honey.
Grace was me going to that church basement — where and I saw his friend A. She had approached me when I first met her on Friday and told me how much she appreciated my story about staying sober through my divorce. About leaving my marriage with grace and dignity.
Since then, she had asked her boyfriend to move out. We spoke for a while and she told me she wanted what I talked about – to leave with grace. I pulled out my chuppah remnant again and told her its origins.
As I spoke, I yanked at its edges, trying to rip it in two. But I couldn’t. A. offered that she had a knife in her car, and we walked toward it. I folded the green fabric over the blade and started a tear. The fabric separated easily. I handed her “grace” and I kept “honey” for myself.
“Now you walk away with grace,” I said. “Literally.” And we put our arms around each other.
And I walked away with honey.