The Gifts of Loss
One of my dearest friends from California is moving to St. Louis, and I'm sad. We discovered each other via mutual connections, both of us children's book authors and both working from home. Of course I scoped out her website before our meeting, feeling nervous but deciding yes, she looked friendly. Our connection was immediate. We walked the five-mile QuickSilver trails together, 3-4 times a week, sharing our lives and covering every topic from kids and spirituality to aging, money, book ideas, dreams, parents, fears and insecurities. Though I've been here just two years, she's become an epic friend, comfort and blessing.
“What will I do without you?” I ask her, sitting in my driveway on Friday night, tears spilling. She drove me the one-block home from her going away party because I didn't want to walk in my fancy shoes. I understand the circumstances that have prompted their move, but I'm focused on how it affects me.
“You'll always have me,” she says through her own tears. “I'm a text or phone call away.” I know this is true. But I also know how time and distance change things.
Just two years ago, I sat in Lisa’s office (my therapist) for help in dealing with my own move to California after 25 years in Minneapolis.
“What if I never have this again?” I lamented from her couch, referring to the dear friendships and familiarity I was leaving.
She looked at me from “the wisdom throne,” as I affectionately called her simple hardback chair across from me.
“But you’ve had it,” she replied. “And that is the gift.”
It took a bit for this to truly sink in and cull its truth: Loss in life is inevitable. But what we know and receive and are changed by is always with us, precious souvenirs on the heart's journey.
By leaving friends in Minneapolis and now being the one left behind, I have known the ache of separating from people and places dear. And I have received in abundance the gifts of knowing I mattered. I have been blessed by love and friendship, conversation, truth-telling, laughter, and support. And deeply hope I have bestowed the same on others with whom I've traveled life.
As Lisa told me in her own way and Poet Alfred Lord Tennyson reminds us, 'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
As I think about Ali moving today to her new life in St. Louis, I am struck by a couple things. First that yes, I did find it again — friendship and connection. And yes, I'm feeling loss again just two years later. But my heart has infinitely expanded through the gifts of each.
How have you received the gifts of loss in your own life?
The Heart of the Matter: Loss and beauty are traveling companions.