Things end. Some endings bring relief. Some leave us lost.
I feel relief at endings like time in the dentist’s chair, a successful surgery for my sister, or a flight taking me home to Omaha.
I feel lost when relationships with those I love end because so much of who I am is connected to the people with whom I work and play. People like Fred who died last Friday.
Fred the drama queen poet and next door neighbor who watched my children go from Montessori to college. Fred the matchmaker who brought John and me together and then officiated our wedding 19 years ago this week. Fred the romantic who commissioned an exquisite choral composition for Gary to celebrate their 40th anniversary.
If I had a greater capacity to accept the reality that things end—-like relationships with people I love—-I would suffer less. But this wisdom eludes me still. Despite dying being the most certain human ending, there is a struggle to accept. Fred’s passing came as no surprise. He didn’t die young and his health was horrible. Despite the apparent inevitability of his death, its arrival leaves me disoriented.
I replay the images of his gossiping disguised in great story telling and the scenes of him being “right” and Gary being “always right” and it leaves me feeling lost.
When the connection to those I love is severed I feel adrift. My love of their beautiful spirits and their endearing imperfections is no longer my anchor. When those I love or once loved are no longer with me, I have to search anew for that connection of loving. It is loving that brings me back to center.
I may no longer be able to experience loving Fred or my husband, but I can love anew. I can love the spring radishes at next Saturday’s farmer’s market. I can love my barista who smiles largest on my hardest days. Whether to a cause, a critter or a kid on my block, loving again brings me back home to myself.
The end of your marriage may bring relief or leave you lost. If you are relieved, let out a big sigh and carry on. But if you are lost, remember that it is a temporary condition that lasts only until you find yourself again through loving and connecting. Einstein declared that energy cannot be destroyed but that it can only be changed from one form to another.
What never ends is love.