I have always told my kids that relationship is the main thing, the main purpose that we are here. We are here to love each other. That’s the most important part of the deal here on Earth. We are here to build relationships with others. We don’t just build relationships within our family, but we seek out and build relationships with people all the time. Our job is to be loving and to see the gifts in others; sharing ourselves and our gifts will be the most important work we do. It will also be the most difficult work we do. Building relationships is not easy. Looking for people’s strengths, nurturing their gifts, and realizing the gifts they may bring forth in us is tough, arduous work. When we do this though, life will be its most rewarding. When we risk ourselves and put ourselves out there for people to really know, it is bittersweet. Some people will love us, some will not. Even those who love us immensely will not always love everything about us. Every relationship we build will have challenges along with the blessings. Disappointment, sorrow, and pain are all a part of loving. The good news is that joy, happiness, good health and well-being are all benefits of loving too.
I try to live this. I must admit though since losing my husband, I have been hesitant to build new relationships. I’ve met people. I’m kind and friendly, but not invested. The sorrow, the pain, and the feelings of abandonment that I have experienced since Dave died have left me wary and hesitant to reinvest in my heart. I truly think that even with those closest to me I have not continued to build, but have hidden my heart trying to protect it from the pain that comes with losing a primary relationship and fear of losing another. I try to not let my heart harden, but am not sure that it was something I could stop.
I worked hard in my relationship with my husband. I loved him, that’s a given. With every relationship there are challenges and I think the thing I miss most was that we loved each other in spite of the challenges. I knew he loved me even in my worst moments, as I did him. Did I agree with him always? Did I approve of all his behavior? No, not always. Did he of me? I don’t think so, but we always came back together. We came back to the moments of knowing what we had and what we’d miss if we didn’t have each other. We continued to build the relationship. We continued to change and grow. Hopefully, we continued to bring out the best of who we each were becoming. That’s the purpose for me. That’s why I’m here. I think that’s why you’re here.
By knowing each other, by loving each other, are we better people? Are we realizing our own potential through the relationships we build? Are we a loving presence to those around us?
My next journey is that of realizing that I can reinvest and build relationships again. I can open my heart and I won’t always be crippled by the pain of loss. Many people will walk for many years with me. I am fortunate to have already built long-term relationships throughout my life. I have friends that remember my youth with me and friends that have only known me as an adult … the mix is good. I have confidants and those who share their deepest thoughts and feelings with me. For this I am so grateful. Even with a semi-hardened heart, I was able to rely on these relationships I had built when I lost Dave. It was in those moments of letting myself be loved that I realized the gifts I was given: those I loved. I think that has been one of the lessons of relationship building that I have learned through loss … I don’t think I would have gotten this lesson yet without it. It is not only through loving or giving love that we build, but even more importantly, it’s by letting ourselves be loved that we are laying the strongest foundation. I find that receiving love is much more difficult than giving it. Giving love and me doing my part in the building is easy. Me letting someone else do the building and loving me isn’t so easy. I think that’s part of why loss is so hard … because if you’ve let someone love you, surrendered to their love. It is so immense an experience that you think it can never happen again. At least that is how if feels to me most days. Being loved is vulnerable, being loved for who you are in all your moments—the crappy ones, the joyful ones, the failure and success—is when we experience that love we were born to have. Being open to receive it, especially after losing it in another part of our lives, rebuilding and laying new foundations and nurturing the ones that still remain in our lives is the hard work my heart continues to crave. Although I know the price of risking to love, my heart, my soul, my being still crave it. That is how I continue to know that if I build it, if I risk it, I will have it. My purpose … as I tell my kids … will continue to be to love and to be loved.