I had a random blast from the past come up last week and it put me back in the mindset of where I was over 10 years ago compared to where I am now. It was exciting, and fun, and sad, and just so many emotions that I never even knew I had inside of me. A very good friend of mine once told me how hard it was for people to leave his life. Not necessarily through death, but when old friends or girlfriends or boyfriends who you were once so close to, decide to never talk to you again kind of “leave.” The ones who choose to leave that you wouldn’t necessarily choose to leave if you had it your way. And no McDonalds’s, we can’t always have it our way, all of the time. Though that sounds fabulous to me.
At the time in my life he told me that, I really didn’t understand because I didn’t feel that same sense of grief when someone had moved on. I had tried to tell him what I thought I truly believed and that sometimes people just come into our lives at the right time for us, make great memories, and then when it is time for them or us to move on, it is ok. A sort of “ashes to ashes dust to dust.” But when this blast from the past came out of nowhere last week, completely unexpected, I finally realized what he meant.
I am almost 37 years old, and I have lost a lot of very close people in my life to death. Death is something that is uncomfortable for people to talk about, and it was very uncomfortable for me when it was happening to some of the very closest people in my world. It was one of those things that you don’t know how you will handle and you can’t prepare for, until it happens. And while I’d like to say I am the same person I am before my mom died compared to after, it is just not true.
Death has a way of making us really analyze our lives. For me, it makes me appreciate the people I have and the beautiful moments that happen every day. But death also has a way of slapping me in the face and saying “wake up, relax, and live!” When my son says “-ake up” to me at 6 am, it’s pretty much the sweetest thing I hear all day. But when a death occurs, this wake up is bitter sweet at best. Emotions can fly from “I’m so thankful they aren’t suffering anymore” to “they have taught me so much” and “I just want one more day with them.” All of these emotions that come up are valid and confusing, and usually help us slow down a little bit, spend more time with those we love, argue less, and be more grateful. But the truth is, we cannot bring our loved ones back. We have no choice but to eventually accept it. This is the difference between someone leaving your life by choice, or your lives drifting apart, and someone dying. It is can be harder to accept.
Easter is always such a refreshing time of year. It is Spring by the time it arrives (even though the weather can tell you otherwise), and new things are blossoming and growing, and (for those of us who are Christian) it is the time of rebirth. So today I am writing to remind myself and my followers that there is no matter time than now to think about those people who may not be in our daily lives any more, but whom we still love just so much and are still here for us to tell them. No matter why you drifted apart, for better or for worse, a simple email, text, phone call, or private message from the heart to say “I’m thinking of you and I hope you are well” can never hurt.
I still believe my past advice, to embrace those in your life in the present, be grateful for the moments you have with them, and accept when your lives drift apart. But maybe I also believe the deeper impact it has on us. It makes us change. Having someone you loved, whether friend, family or partner, leave your life is going to change you. It tends to build resiliency, but also fear. It makes us act differently in future relationships and perhaps second guess our decisions more than we would have previously. Sometimes it can be a major perspective shift and our mindsets become completely different than what they were before. And then a smell, a song, or a podcast brings us right back to a moment we shared with someone we "lost." All the emotions come back. All the feelings and memories and it’s like your mind and body start to feel just like you did when it first happened.
This blast from the past in my life did all of that. I laughed, I cried, and I did a lot of reminiscing. It reminded me of a time when my mom was alive and I thought the world was filled with rainbows and butterflies. And maybe even unicorns. It reminded me of who I was before I lost my mom, became a mom, and my days were simple and easy. It reminded me to take a deep breath and realize that while I have changed because my life has changed, I do not have to lose sight of the younger version of me who trusted everything happened for a reason and everything would have a happily ever after ending.
Change is inevitable. We can’t expect our partners to be the same person they were the day we married them. Or that we will be the same person either. Yet I do believe that the younger we are, the more we are able to stay true to who we are at the core. Looking back at who I was just 10 years ago was a wonderful reminder that while I’ve “grown up” in a few good ways, that I can still take time to breathe and see that while I have lost many people I love in various ways over the years, the world still has many rainbows and butterflies if I just choose to wear my rose tinted glasses a bit more. It just maybe does not have unicorns...yet.
-Kathryn Kraft, MPT
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