OK, you get it. I’m depressed. Not clinically, but I do not really see many differences in the symptoms. When a long relationship in which you had invested everything is murdered suddenly, there is NO WAY to “just cherish the time [I] had with her, and let go” as a guy who is now (very) close to her told me pointedly yesterday in a post on FB about one of my blogs. Tell that to the core that has been shattered, sir! Tell that to the thousands of pieces life has been broken into, as I try to pick them up one by one and very very slowly glue them back together again. Tell that to the annihilated heart and soul, sir! And it has nothing to do with self-pity, and all to do with basic survival, because when your very soul has been ripped from your body, and your mind has been devastated, looking even remotely at the time with her (which was then the most magical time of my life) with any glee is beyond conceivable. That time in my life is a body with its head hacked off. And just as dead to me. The gentleman’s agenda is of course transparent, but his suggestion is so far from doable that it would be risible, where it not so absolutely tragic.
But this is not another blog in which I slowly and, hopefully, somewhat healingly, pick apart the darkness inside me. This one was instigated by the very opposite of that gentleman’s comment. It was inspired by an extremely sweet message sent to me by an ex-student, and a large part of this blog is actually that comment itself.
Let me begin by saying that zillions of friends and colleagues have been absolute troopers so far throughout this saga. Some with just a single, sympathetic line, others with long conversations, tears and hugs. And I was also incredibly touched by students, tentatively reaching out to their heartsick professor, with no agenda at all, but just because they can’t stand me being so incredibly sad.
I have picked a couple at random to give you an idea of the sort of simple, yet totally philosophical personal messages some of my students and ex-students sent me. Here is a very sweet one, for example, from a girl I taught a few years ago:
Hey Sir 😊 I have been thinking about messaging you since i saw your post and not sure if what I’m doing is ethical, since you were my lecturer, but I believe that everyone needs some motivational words sometimes. Life can be hard sometimes, but I have always seen you as a great, happy, cheerful, wise man! Don’t let anything stop you or change you! And keep your head up ‘cause you have a million reasons to do so! Hope you’re getting better and if there’s anything I can do to help you let me know. […] Kuraġġ! You are loved by many people 😊 Take care Sir!
And one more, from a girl that I taught much longer ago than the previous one:
I’m not going to ask how you’re doing because I know heartbreak is the absolute worst, especially when you love with all your heart. The healing process is tough, but you’re strong and you’ll get through it, even though it may not feel like it right now. I hope you find some solace in your art. It will not remove the cracks, but perhaps it can help you put pieces back together. Please don’t forget that you’re totally awesome and so many of us will always look up to you!
How heart-warmingly sweet are my students!
But the one that took the cake was one I got today from a student who left university not too long ago… a happy, smiley, talented girl whom I’ve never seen without a radiant smile on her face. What she wrote touched me on a day when the lows were beyond low, and a very deep ravine would have had a problem keeping up. Here is what she wrote to me, reproduced here with her permission:
Hi Ġorġ, I know this is going to be really random, but when I saw you today it reminded me to send you this message. I realise that you’ve been passing through a very difficult time recently and it always makes me sad when deeply emphatic people have to pass through a challenging period, because I know they feel things three times over. I just hope you understand what an impact you make on people’s lives, and as my lecturer you truly were inspiring with your love and passion for illustration and just creativity and expression in general. Life is hard, but there’s always beauty in everyday things, like the sun rising in the morning and the wonderful colours it paints the sky in, or the life that blossoms all around us, in the form of plants, trees, vegetation, insects… Don’t let hard times break your spirit or your soul, because people are external to you and you should always be your number one pride and joy. And you have so many things you should be proud of! All your experiences, the stories you can tell, your talents, the way you impact people’s lives — they’ve all made you into the person you are today. And maybe my inexperience in life fuels a sense of naivety within me, but I still believe the world is beautiful and I hope you find the strength within you to keep seeing the beauty in everyday things. I think the world has lost a sense of connectivity, but I hope you realise that even when you feel alone, you’re not alone, and you’ve made a difference in people’s lives more than you realise, and people do care. Take care, Ġorġ, and keep being you please! Keep inspiring others with your art and writing and keep hold of the light within the darkness 😊
I think you can all see why it hit me right where the hurt was most bitter. It was a gentle (even if, unfortunately, temporary) balm on my savagely slashed and profusely bleeding wound. And I realised that there are not just selfish people in the world, ready to tear your world apart at the drop of a hat… push you from the top of a high cliff and watch you spatter all over the hard ground below… that there are also sweet ones who see in me what I do not see in myself. And for her pointing that out to me, I am extremely grateful.
No, unfortunately, the beauty in everyday things has lost an enormous amount of its lustre to me right now, and I have not yet learnt to appreciate it alone… because (as my ironic last post on FB with her in it said) the best things in life are shared. And I had learned only to share and never to appreciate alone. So that is something new to me that I need to learn among the many pains and sorrows that overwhelm it. But I will, hopefully not too far in the future, until, at some point in my life, someone will teach me how to share again… and, yes, I will try to “keep hold of the light” until that happens.