Carved in Stone.

As this year winds down and we list all of those things that we are thankful for, I have to also reflect on those things that I have learned over the past year. My biggest lesson: loss.

This lesson has been running marathons in my head since Friday evening when I took the time to take part in one of my favorite pastimes, going to the movies. I went to see The Best Man Holiday. Although the movie trailer presented it as a cheeky sequel to a movie that I already love, I was left in deep contemplation of why the main story line affected me so profoundly. Yes, on the surface (spoiler alert), it would seem to be just another film about losing a loved one of cancer and how the surrounding friends and family are able to carry on; but through the tears that I shed at the theater, I realized that it wasn’t my familiarity with the despicable disease and how it can completely change your life’s course that moved me so. It was something else.

I sat in the darkened theater trying to decide if I was crying over the fact that I lost one of the most influential people in my life to cancer, or because I was able to watch another vital family member fight through it. And then it hit me, most of the things I do, and have done, hinge on the fact that I held on to these things versus fighting through them myself.

It occurred to me that I don’t write for people to read because I have written at least four eulogies in my short lifetime, and I hate that the outlet that I love so much has been tainted with trying to describe the richness of one’s life and final memories of those lost. It is the hardest thing to accurately depict the emotions and impact someone has on your soul, especially for the last time. It’s heart wrenching just thinking about it now, sitting in my room.

Still, while sitting in that theater, I was then lead to see how writing these eulogies also enabled me to stay in that space for long periods of time. I was writing for others, trying to show how those special people were a gift to all of us, not only to myself. I then never acknowledged how they were a blessing to my life because I had to freeze whatever emotions I was feeling in order to find words and some elegant narrative of my loved one. At that time, I didn’t want to pressure myself into being a “writer,” I wanted to be “griever.” Nevertheless, for the “greater good,” I sat down with a pen and a paper (yes, that is still how I like to write-OLD SCHOOL), and tried to pretend I was okay enough to complete the task I was asked to perform. This did me no favors, because I already struggle with loss in general, and now I was being pressured into repressing those feelings for a while longer, and then forever (or so it would seem).

Who knew that two hours in a theater, watching a cheesy follow-up to an already cheesy movie, would remind me of the life lessons that I have been experiencing these last ten months?

I won’t bore you with the details of all that God placed in front of me in order to push me forward in 2013, but I will say that I was able to face this loss head-on (I say this with great pride). For example, I was able to visit my Boo Boo’s (that is my paternal grandfather, and you can laugh if you want, but it is what we knew him as and loved him as) grave for the very first time. After seven years of pretending like he was still sitting at my Big Mama’s house (please don’t think of the movie character here, unless you are thinking Soul Food. That is a far more accurate description of my Big Mama), I had to see his name carved in that stone for it to register that he really isn’t here on this earth any longer. And guess what? I felt relief. I felt a lightening of the load that I was carrying that I never even knew was there. Perhaps it was guilt, maybe something else, but whatever it was, I felt a lot better. I started to do this with other things, and slowly but surely I began to understand that we are not separated at all. Those spirits, that love, cannot be altered by distance or death. Like any scientist will tell you, energy has no beginning or end, and it cannot be destroyed, it simply becomes something else. That something else, although not everyone can see it, can be felt for as long as we allow ourselves to feel it.

So that is my biggest, most grandiose lesson this year. That thing that looked like loss was really my inability to see that we are all connected from now until eternity. That allowing myself to feel and be open would allow me to still have all of those that I love in my life no matter what it’s wrapped in: death, distance, beginning, or end. Love is the most powerful thing on earth, and what my movie experience reminded me of is that we may miss those people who are no longer there in our daily lives, but we will never be that far from them.

There are no words to say how thankful I am for that, but trust me when I say that I am.

Love yourself and love others.

MNW

“At the temple is a poem called “Loss” carved into the stone. It has three words, but the poet has scratched them out. You cannot read loss, only feel it.”

~Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha

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