“You taught me how to love; you taught me how to live; you taught me how to laugh; you taught me how to cry, but when you left, you forgot to teach me how to forget you.” ~ Hendie
Not too long ago, my mother was telling me about a friend of hers, Anita, who recently lost her husband after a long battle with cancer. Anita and her husband were married for almost fifty years, and were only a few weeks shy of celebrating their anniversary. Theirs was a symbiotic relationship—their roles were defined and perfectly aligned, and worked together with the precision of a Swiss clock.
When her husband passed away, Anita was lost. Not only did she have to rely on her sons to take care of mundane matters—she told my mother—but also had to forgive herself for still being alive.
When someone we love suddenly leaves our lives, letting go of them feels like a betrayal. We hang on to pain as an invisible rope that keeps us connected to their essence, and feel that if we let go of the pain we will lose them completely. If we move on, and begin to live again, we feel guilty of leaving them behind, or, if they have chosen to leave willingly, we feel that by forgetting the pain we are condoning their acts.
Truth be told, what connects us to loved ones who are no longer with us is not pain, but the memories we have created over time. As long as we hold our loved ones in our hearts and minds, they will never be gone.
Regardless of how we have lost that person, through physical death or choice of a different path, we need to allow ourselves time to heal. In some Native American traditions, when someone leaves, a specific ritual is performed to “cut the ties that bind.” We establish energetic ties with all who cross our path and become important to us; when something happens to upset the connection the ties become a stranglehold, and stop both from moving forward. Cutting the emotional ties does in no way separate us from the beautiful moments that connected us to them, but only severs the need to hold on to pain.
Those of us who have any kind of spiritual affiliation know that all things happen for a reason. Maybe we had a soul agreement with that person to be in our lives only for a short while and teach us something about ourselves, or we may have something more we need to accomplish before we go while the other person had already fulfilled their life contract. We could drive ourselves mad searching for reasons that may not be for us to know. What counts is that the person we loved came into our lives and left something with us before they departed. Their gift to us may be one we might not readily see or understand, but it undoubtedly touched our lives and changed us in some way.
There is a season to seed and one to blossom; there is a season to ripen and one to harvest. There is a time to hope, to laugh and cry, but most of all, there is a time to be grateful for every chance we have to experience love.