I've been thinking a lot about loss lately. The past few years it seems like my family has been dealing with one loss after another. 5 years ago we lost my father in law to cancer. A long, and grueling battle, that would take the one grandparent in my children's lives who deeply worked on a connection with his grandkids, It seems so unfair and in our face always.
Within months came the loss of my grandparents. First Ruby Jean, my beloved Grandmother who was never afraid to talk about the hard stuff. She knew there never came healing from pretending there was never pain to begin with.
Over the next few years followed my grandfathers, almost exactly one year apart. Saying goodbye meant losing the role of granddaughter. It meant losing the one person who taught me the most about faith, loyalty, and the rare gift of being an expert in "the pause". My grandfather never spoke out of anger, hurt or jealousy. He was skilled in sitting with that feeling first. Praying with total trust, and making sure his response was intentional, loving, and well cared for like a fine gift.
Within the last couple of years we have also said goodbye to my parents who up until recently lived ten minutes away. They moved 1,085 miles away from their family and grandchildren. I wish I could say that the loss is felt because they used to spend quality time with my children or that they had this awesome grandparent relationship. That is not the case. Even when they lived ten minutes away, they were pretty much absent from my children's lives. They could attend birthday parties, an occasional sports event, and grandparents day at the elementary school once a year, but that was the extent of their relationships. Now 1,085 miles away they never call their grandchildren, they never check in, they don't seem to really care. Over the Christmas break my parents were here for two full weeks. They spent next to zero time with my children. Each and every one of my four children expressed wishing they had grandparents who actually wanted to spend time with them. I suggest we go see a movie, and my mom said " oh yes, I really want to see The Mule." A rated R movie about drug muling. I explained that the kids really shouldn't see something like that, and that I was thinking more of a family movie. They went to see The Mule by themselves. I suggested they come over to decorate Christmas cookies and go see the local Christmas light display with our family. They came over for 15 minutes, sat around like lumps on a log instead of making memories with their grandchildren. When I gathered everyone with coats and shoes to leave for the Christmas lights my parents said, "well, we're just going to go now" and headed back to their hotel to sit on Facebook. They filled their week with visits with friends, distant relatives, and never once thought we should make our grandchildren feel like we've missed them. For two weeks I heard my dad say how he couldn't wait to get home to his dogs and how he missed them terribly. Oh, my heart hurts. My kids are pretty dang fantastic, and I will need to stop killing myself trying to make them see that. The loss is technically theirs, but it ripples through my family taking us all down.
Another loss felt over the last couple of years has been our little church. We've consistently met together since my children were babies and it was a group that taught me more about love, family, Jesus and community than any other collected group ever has in my lifetime. Roughly around 10 families give or take over the years that worshiped together, served together, ate together, raised babies together, celebrated together and wept together. They were the people I could trust the most, and be brave and vulnerable with, and I knew....we all knew it was rare. As perfect as this little group felt, we were not perfect nor were we immune to loss. 2016-2017 brought on tough conversations about politics, race, questioning what side of the fence is good, and noble, and true. Feelings were hurt and the pain of it appeared unable to move forward. Some may argue there were other underlining issues, and I'll say there probably was, but to me it was clear. A line was drawn between us and them. So some went in one direction and others in another direction. Our once tight knit group worships in separate buildings, we saw less of one another, and once again the loss sunk in. This one felt like a ton of bricks. This is the group I've always stated felt more like family or the family we CHOSE, but once again there came that inevitable outcome...loss. It's not my friends job to make me feel less abandoned, more whole, you know whatever. It's an unfair role I've placed on people, maybe.
All I know is I know what my heart feels right now is real. Loss is hard. It's hard for us all and for the adoptee it comes at a whole new level. We spend our lives waiting for people to leave. We might even self sabotage. What might be easily brushed off by someone else, we hold onto, certain that there is something shamefully wrong with us. Who could ever love us?
I was watching my dog, Bella the other day. She is a Westie who is mostly adorable but also a lot of crazy. Here is one thing she does though that I need to take notes. Bella will search for the sunny spot in the house everyday. Without fail she finds it. It moves day to day. Some days it's on the stairs, some days in the bedroom, or the kitchen. She'll find that spot, lay down belly up with her heart towards the sun. I know this is true. When you want to feel loved look for ways to love others. When you need a friend, look for ways to be a great friend. When you feel lost or drowning in loss know you are probably not alone. Love to you all friends! If you are feeling the aftermath of loss and letting go- look to the sun and know you are not alone.