Love and loss are the great unifiers. Later in life the family seems to only get together for weddings and funerals. The most interesting part of my grief is how separated and alone I felt even though I was surrounded by love and support. I was kept separate from the rest of life by the grief gaps.
A major aspect of being widowed is my fear. Since Clayton passed away, saying “I love you” to anyone was scary for me because the next thought I’d have was that someday they would be gone. What do I do when everyone I love has left? We all quietly know that the tradeoff to love will eventually be loss. They come as a pair but we ignore the pending outcome. I certainly did until Clayton passed away. That flipped my view and the fear of loss overshadowed the joy of love. “Love lost” became my focus verses “love gained”. So I just kept telling myself that I loved me and we would be ok.
Last week I lost and old friend. I haven’t shared about it because the family wants their privacy. What I can tell you is that Clayton showed up in a way I never expected. This older lady had started to look different to me. There was something familiar in her eyes. In just days, I noticed subtle changes and I knew before she did that her time was quickly coming to an end. I shared my thoughts with her family and doctor. Further testing showed I was right. She was going through the end stages just like Clayton. For the whole week I shared with the family what would happen in the upcoming hours and days. They would hear names of medicines that hadn’t been said yet and time was short. It hurt to relive Clayton’s death. However, as much as I hate to admit it, because of my grief I was able to give that old lady and her family a gift – enough time to say their goodbyes. That sweet lady passed away shortly after. The loss weighed heavy on my heart and I looked for the lesson.
The timing was too well designed for it to be a coincidence. I have reached a point in my healing that I truly felt I could fall in love with someone again and I have. We were brought together because he had seen a video I made about Clayton. He reached out to me in friendship, which has grown from there. We planned a weekend together just days before that sweet lady started to feel off. After a week of reliving Clayton’s last days, he arrived and I felt something I hadn’t thought was possible. I can grieve for Clayton and fall in love at the same time. I can honor both relationships equally without having to choose. I can be my true authentic widowed self because I have gaps from grief that I have worked to fill. So, as far as I can see it, Clayton helped orchestrate this beautiful new loss and love.
It’s taken me a long time to understand that contrasting emotions can share the same space at the same time. These grief gaps have changed from dusty drop-offs to fertile riverbeds. I realize that if I consistently say “I love you” to myself, there is a never-ending flow that I can share with others. Where I once saw a great divide, I now see a way to cross. With great love comes great loss but with great loss comes great love. As long as I remember that they show up as a set, I no longer have to fear the future. Perspective can plant possibilities. So just remember that roses may wither but rose-colored glasses have no thorns…