I have recently discovered the wonders of Facebook, and gotten back in touch with some old friends some of whom date as far back as my childhood. So my mind has been in the past just a bit lately, such that when this song came up on my CD player on the way home from work one day recently, it struck a deep chord as I was flooded with memories of endings. I have been in love exactly 3 times in my 40 years of life, and 2 of the 3 times have ended with loss.
That got me pondering two things that seem to go hand in hand…love and loss. How many times have you, dear reader, genuinely been in love? Is 3 a lot, about average, a little? I wonder what the average is for most people across a lifetime? At 40 and happily married, I hazard to guess 3 will be my final number.
What is it that determines who we fall in love with? Why do we fall in love with this person we come in contact with, but not that person who is equally suitable? Is it proximity, chemistry, common interests, pheromones, fate, or something else? I don’t have the answers to these questions. I’m just wondering. I know that the one that stuck for me is the one that incorporated ALL the things I just mentioned.
Then there is the phenomenon of loss. I think everyone reading this post can identify with the feelings portrayed in the Sugarland song, “Keep You.” Don’t we all know what it feels like to be so stuck in grief the whole world is grey? Can’t we all remember a time when the loss of someone important to us was so profound that we could feel almost nothing at all, could neither laugh nor cry? In the end, in my 2 out of 3 love losses, there was absolutely nothing I could do to “keep you from doing this to me.”
The amazing thing is that we all seem to have this built in mechanism to recover. We survive what seems unsurvivable and unbearable at the time… the loss of a beloved relationship, divorce, children growing up, moving out and building their own lives, the death of parents. Some of us take longer to do it than others, but ultimately we get on with life. I tend to be one of those who takes her time getting over loss, milking every ounce of misery from it, until I finally decide I have had enough of pain and decide to let go.
I think the answer to why we all have the ability to do this is simple…survival. The alternative is to allow the wound to eventually rob us of the very will to live. We have to allow ourselves to heal and get on with life if we want to continue living at all. I saw my grandfather lose his will to live, and pass away just 6 short weeks after the death of my grandmother. I think at some point in our later years, we just don’t have the strength to recover any longer, the pay off is no longer worth the tremendous effort required.
I have found however, that even though my wound is well healed with a tough layer of scar tissue protecting it, there is still a hole left in my heart by the space that person used to fill. This is true of romantic relationships as well as dear friends that have wandered out of my life for one reason or another. Some leave a bigger hole than others, but all it takes is a small reminder of them, and I am caught up in that old familiar longing and fingering the hole in my chest. Although the pain mercifully fades with time, the love from which it sprang never does.
These are the thoughts rolling around in my head, and my heart today.