Leaving Home

Moving away from home means leaving behind drama and some trauma from an unpleasant childhood. It also means you find out painful things too late and all at once. It’s a malevolent trade off.
Some things hit hard and sting before your ready. Gut reaction may often be right, but it’s also sometimes painful. After the death of a family friend who I’d grown up calling “Uncle,” I searched a hometown newspaper for the online obituary. There I found a lengthy list of memories, punctuated with expiration dates.
So many names that sparked tender and painful thoughts. These people were important to me once. I am grateful for having them in my life. Some I had stayed close to. But so many had been lost to my distance – physical and emotional – from that little town.  My Sunday School teacher who let me ask more than my share of questions; a neighbor who never shoed me away when I was a bothersome little girl; my piano instructor who taught music to the entire elementary school all day and still had patience left for me and my fumbling fingers at the end of the day. Page after page I found more of my heart weeping on the list of names. They each had a hand in making me who I am.
Maybe it’s the Tuesday’s with Morrie syndrome, or what I assume is….I’ve never read the book nor seen the movie (I really aught to do that). It seems unfair to have people who mattered so much when we are too young to understand the impact and too selfish to find the words to tell them. Then, when we finally begin to understand ourselves, and the lessons all those patient people were trying to teach us start to make sense….then….we reach out to say “thank you!”
and we find emptiness.
Age and wisdom come too late sometimes.
Each death that touches us deeply sends us reaching out into the world grasping to build new relationships to fill in the gaps.
My best friend just died – please go hug your friends.
My grandmother passed away, ask your grandparents to share their story now before you don’t get a chance.
Go call your mother – I can’t make that call anymore.
As we struggle to find solace in the midst of our grief, we fight to create connections everywhere around us. As if to say, “if I can’t have this person who was special to me, then you have to hold tighter to yours” and somehow that evens out the universe and makes things right again. It doesn’t work that way, sadly. But, perhaps, somewhere in that twisted logic is the path of healing through community.
When I tell my story and share the love I received from someone special, I am honoring that relationship. I am passing on their love, out into the world to continue doing good. I am keeping a part of that relationship alive. I’m cheating death, in my own way. And if this gift that I keep pushing back into the universe stirs you to heal or bolster or create a new relationship of your own – continuing to share that love – well, then I’d say death has taken a holiday.
I don’t like losing people I love. I don’t like finding out that I waited too long to tell someone ‘thank you.’ I don’t like watching as the arms that built me fall limp in my wake. But I know they are still with me. I have never felt like my own person. The impact and influence of every person who has touched my life has always been very apparent to me. I feel them. I hear them. I am a conglomerate of all of them, and this brings me joy.
Leaving home is sometimes hard, sometimes necessary. But finding ‘home’ is an inside job.

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