I said goodbye today to my very special and dear friend Bethany. There has been much ambivalence about her leaving. I am excited about the adventure she is starting with her family in Michigan, and I feel sadness at losing someone who knows and loves me like she does.
It's felt like a loss because it is a loss. I know in my heart our friendship isn't going anywhere. But the distance will change it, and there has been much to grieve there. I've been grateful for the places she has allowed me to vocalize how I feel.
These last few days though, I've been reflecting on how much loss I've experienced in my lifetime.
The loss of a brother. The loss of having a "normal" family. The loss of my parent's marriage. The loss of memories that never got to be made because of the divorce. The loss of my mother to alcohol. The loss of my mother in death. The loss of my dreams of singing and "making it big" in the opera world. The loss of my boyfriend to a violent murder. The loss of much money and pride to a man who quite literally robbed me and was never to be found again. The loss of heartbreak and rejection by the man I thought was supposed to be my husband. The loss of a church. The loss of relationships.
Those things feel like the "highlights" so-to-speak.
Those losses felt big because they are big. Yet I never really entered in to those things and let myself feel what was going on. Partially because I didn't know how, and partially because I just didn't want to. I've lived my life just trying to survive my losses instead of entering in to them, feeling them and grieving. And I've dealt with loss by medicating with addictions and just checking out.
Maybe it's my age or the work I've put in to therapy and counseling, or maybe it's just the grace of God. But as I've navigated through this newest loss in life and saying goodbye to a woman who is probably one of the best friends I've ever had, I've chosen to really enter in. As hard as it's been, I've pushed through and allowed myself to cry the moments that needed tears. I've voiced the times when it's hurt. I've remained present in this loss. I've fought the urges to medicate or check out.
As a result, it's felt like a light bulb has gone off for me. All of the things that were ever lost for me - I didn't do this. I never allowed myself to enter in to loss and acknowledge everything I was feeling and just get in it. It makes sense why I am where I am today - I am just now, only in the last few years, allowing myself to feel all that was lost for me. I'm crying tears that I didn't cry when I was 14, and 17, and 21 and 24.
It feels both beautiful and redeeming for this loss to be the one that I first truly entered in to as it was happening. In doing so, it allowed me to love and be present for her in a way that she needed.
Before she left, Bethany gave me an old wreath that she thought I might be able to breathe some new life into.
After we said goodbye today, I went to Hobby Lobby and bought some felt and came home to do just that. Breathe some new life into an old wreath that my friend gave to me.
New life seems to be waiting on the other side of loss. How about that...