Funny how different losses can create such different kinds of struggles for us. How different versions of loss can confuse us and blindside us in unexpected ways… even when we have dealt with loss before.
I feel like I came home from our recent trip to Texas changed. In a good way. I feel like there were a lot of things that were rearranged inside me while on that trip. I know it had a lot to do with seeing good friends, and Drew’s family, and being in my hometown and feeling that anchored feeling of the place I grew up.
Usually when we visit, I leave feeling like there just wasn’t enough time… to see everyone and do everything that mattered. This time though, it didn’t feel that way. I made it a priority to have greater amounts of time with the people I often barely get time to see – some of them, the most important people to me. So as we hit the road back to Ohio after 10 days in Texas, my heart felt so full and satisfied and peaceful. It was the first time a trip back home didn’t feel like “not enough”. And it was beautiful.
That trip has left a different sense of calm in me since being back in Ohio. I feel this stronger sense of connection to the people and places I love that are far away, and also to the person I was then. In a way, maybe it feels like I’ve brought her with me this time.
I’m also reminded that distance does not have to matter. A lesson I learned after Drew died. Even in distance and in death, I have a choice to hold what matters to me closely in my heart and allow it to be a part of my new life. I’ve learned it before, and I’m relearning it now. In moving to Ohio to begin a life with Mike, I think I unknowingly convinced myself that distance meant disconnect. I think that idea sort of ran amuk in my head and heart for quite some time now before I’m beginning to say, “Hey, wait a minute… maybe that’s NOT true and maybe I CAN feel differently about this”.
It’s surprising to think that I’ve woven my dead person into my new life so well, but have struggled so much to integrate my own sense of self and my roots into that same life. Maybe I just wasn’t prepared and had no idea how to bring my sense of self with me. Maybe moving somewhere new isn’t seen by most people as a loss… so I stayed very quiet about it for fear of them misunderstanding my pain as a disliking for where I now live. It’s complex in a way I didn’t expect I guess.
It feels as if this move – much like Drew’s death – created a rift inside me. With his death, that rift remains… a change in the landscape of me that grows with me. As it deepens, I discover new parts of myself and over time, I learn not to fear the new landscape being carved out but to love it and embrace it. I learn to understand it as his way of still being alive within me.
With the move to Ohio though, there is a very different relationship to that rift. Because it is still a place that exists on earth, with living people. So it is more of a longing to close the rift up. To close the distance. I think after a few years, that rift is becoming smaller inside me. Perhaps it has lessened just enough that I am gradually beginning to build bridges back to where I’m from and who I am… across that chasm, inside my heart, and feel connected to the person I was and all the people and places that shaped me throughout my life.
I’ve always liked the idea of relating me my own internal relationship to loss and grief to physical landscapes. It helps me to find words and language and symbols to make sense of it. It helps to be able to describe grief as being something as immense as the Grand Canyon… because there is something hopeful there. I mean, we travel from all over the world to see this giant wound in the earth. There is beauty in it, and no denying that.
I think you can find something beautiful anywhere in nature, even in the destruction. I think that’s why I cling to it as a way to relate to my own pain… nature is ever changing, ever losing, ever suffering, and still… in the midst of all of that, it is beautiful, and growing, and open, and receiving of life, and unrelentingly existing despite it all. I can’t think of a better metaphor for life.