It is fair to say that every human on the planet has lost something or someone. We have all had events or people in our lives that invited us to feel loss. For some it has been the actual loss of a person, or perhaps the loss of an opportunity, or even the loss of a dream.
For this past month or so I have circled back as I do so often every year around my daughter’s birthday. In my own process of evolving and working to be the best version of myself that I can be, I have given myself permission to feel anything and everything when it comes to her birthday. For years I stuffed the emotions that I thought some might see as an ungrateful and resentful mom. I have since learned that nobody’s opinion really matters when it comes to how I feel, as my feelings are valid and real, regardless of what they are. I am able to now openly share with myself and others that there is indeed a loss when it comes to her. She was born this little perfect sweet little baby girl but within a few years was identified with multiple developmental disabilities and the reality that my relationship with my only daughter was not going to be that of my friends you had a “typical” daughter. I was not going to have (easily) conversations and mother daughter outings. Instead, I would forever be her mode of transportation and decision maker. I would not be helping her to plan her dream wedding, but instead I would be planning where she would live when I am too old to care for her. I wouldn’t be celebrating her college degree and career path but instead finding appropriate day programs for her to feel some resemblance of purpose and meaning in her life.
That is a huge loss.
Through the process of my wakeup years ago, I realized that within the loss is a great lesson.
I am now able to see all that I have gained. I have taken the loss and created something amazing and powerful through the lesson of acceptance and grace. You can hear my whole story here on this awesome podcast. I chose to accept and do something with this amazing gift I was given, through her and as her.
The point is the lesson I have learned was that life doesn’t always give us what we may see as the ideal, but if we open our hearts to seeing the lesson, it may just rock your world.
When my children’s father died in 2014 I experienced another huge life changing lesson through the process of loss. I had already lost him in many ways as we divorced when things got too much for him related to our daughter and the vastness of what our life had become. To be completely honest, he wasn’t the greatest dad and he definitely was not able to show up for himself, or the kids, however I was willing to see the lesson in his unfortunate death. One of the greatest days in my life as a mom was witnessing my boys show up for him, regardless of his inability to show up for them. You can read about that pivotal day in my life here.
When he died, he was alone. He had made decisions in the last year of his life that prompted his last few days to be that where he was not surrounded by anyone as he transitioned. The painful reality of his last few years was just too much for my kids once they had said their beautiful goodbye days before, and he was estranged from his friends and family.
That was a big loss. Not just for him, but for my children, and in a way myself.
The lesson I learned from that loss has become a huge part of my life and service work. Within a few months of his death, I had a mystical and powerful yearning to volunteer in hospice. I woke one morning from a deep sleep knowing that I had to serve those dying and that nobody should die alone. I also had another deliberate truth that my service would be rubbing people’s feet while they were making their journey. I am not even a foot person! But, I knew it was what I had to do. So I did.
This week, one of my yoga students whom I have been spending time with every two weeks fell gravely ill and when I arrived at his group home I was told he was intubated and in the ICU. Due to his previous injures our yoga sessions are essential me rubbing his feet and moving his paralyzed limbs. When I heard about his his current condition, it didn’t not occur to me to NOT go. I jumped in my car and off I went with my magic hands and open heart.
The smells of an ICU and the sensory overload within the space can easily overtake you, if you allow it. Tubes. Alarms. Machines. So much to be distracted by.
I walked in and he was awake but obviously unable to speak. I grabbed is hand and watched as his eyes twinkled with recognition. I did my thing and when I went to say goodbye a single tear fell from his eye.
The lesson of acceptance and regardless-of-what-someone-did-or-didn’t-do-you-show-up came from those two losses in my life. I know with every fiber of my being that had my girl been born not as she was and had their father not been who he was and not died the way that he did, I would not have been there for my student, and the countless other strangers who I have had the honor to rub their feet.
I know that.
Loss? Yes, for sure.