I haven't lost anyone, permanent loss, in my life in a very long time.
We have made some big changes in our lives and done them with planning, trepidation and forethought. Those changes involved grieving as well. Moving away from close loved ones. Loved ones moving away from us. All of those involve loss. It changes the way our worlds turn from day to day. The faces and hearts that are closest to our own. Today's world is a different place for sure. We have access to the internet, cell phones, face to face speaking even if it is routed through satellites the world around. But, it isn't a visit shared over a cup of coffee. It isn't the Saturday evenings spent together over joys and over sorrows. Even though emojis abound, it is difficult to share a hug through Verizon.
Prior to these big changes in our life, we have separated ourselves from those we are leaving. It is interesting that it is done in a subconscious way. We certainly haven't consciously done this, rather as a mode of self preservation and protection our minds have done it for us. We didn't even realize it ourselves until it was brought to our attention. And yet, it made perfect sense to me when I realized what we had done.
Does this happen when a person faces the loss of a loved family member? I haven't done that. I am so thankful that I haven't yet been given that cross to bear. And yet the finality of that parting must be so final. Like the curtain being drawn and there is no light anymore until one's eyes adjust to the new level of light. It isn't as bright anymore, but there is still a level of light. The longer the time, the more the adjustment. It is no longer the same, nor will it ever be.
This past fall brought a different kind of loss to my world. While it wasn't a choice that I made, and I fully respect the right of any person to make their own choices, it wasn't any easy one for me. We live in a very close knit community of shared faith. Yes, there are people who think we are simple and led like lambs to slaughter with no minds of our own. They are also free to think that ... I don't need to surround myself with the likes. Inside that community of shared faith, we share the same foundation of our lives. They are built upon the bedrock of a living faith in God and His congregation. When one chooses, or makes choices that inevitably separates one from that congregation, to leave this way of life it severs that thread that knits us together. We still share many things. So many of things haven't changed, but the very basis of our belief systems have changed. The very thing upon which my entire life is based is something we no longer have in common.
We have children who are not of the same faith as we are. At some points in their lives, they have chosen to walk a different path than us. I love them to bits. I love them bunches. I love them unconditionally.
Those changes didn't come easily. They came with a near loss of sanity on my part, they came with self preservation skills to keep me out of what I was sure was a break with reality. They came with overwhelming grief.
If you aren't of my faith and are reading this you're wondering what the big deal is. You may be thinking I don't have a right to make a choice for someone else. You probably have all kinds of thoughts about what I am allowed to feel or how difficult it was for my children, and others, to leave the safety of all that they knew. I get that. It isn't my choice, it is yours and theirs. You make the choices and you live with their consequences. I live with the aftermath of your choices.
So I learn to love you in a different way. It is as if you drew the blackout curtain and walked away. You left me trying to figure out how to stumble in the dark room without you walking beside me, holding my hand and listening to my heart. You didn't tell me you were having problems in the bright light. You didn't tell me you wanted help making your way. You forged a different path as is and was your right. You found other people to walk with you and hold your hand and heart.
Perhaps I didn't see look close enough to see that you needed me. Perhaps you hid from me so I couldn't see.
The room went dark when you left it. I stumbled around looking for the piece of me that had just left and it was gone. I fumbled around the obstacles that are my own thoughts and fears. I held on to the ones who were still here to hold my heart and listen to it weep. And slowly, ever so slowly, the light filtered back into the room. It took time. It took prayer. It took patience. Slowly, just as river smooths a stone, the sharp edges of the broken heart have softened.
As someone who is facing death wrote not long ago:
"I also want to say though that each person should feel free to feel how you feel in the midst of your struggles. Even if someone else seems to have something "more serious" going on OR someone else seems to have an easier time with the same kind of trial you're having, you don't need to compare or somehow put the expectation on yourself that your struggle isn't real or justified. Each of us is unique and each of us have been given life - with it's unique joys and sorrows".
So, yes, that sorrow was mine. It was deep and cutting.
Someday it will again be joy. .