We are all drawn to each other for different reasons. Chemistry. Attraction. Special interests. Intuition. Past Lives. Fortifying the troops... Who knows...
When I met my Chaverim... it was an instant knowing and it was also a Darwinian process of Natural Selection, although through selective choosing. “Not you, YOU.” “NOT YOU, YOU!” We were like that with each other at every workshop. We were cordial towards others, but would not trust our bodies with them. Only with each other. One American. One Russian. One Israeli. Loving. Giving. Generous. Kind. Devoted. Unyieldingly reliable. We were stalwart and mighty. Vigorous and tenacious. Unwaveringly compassionate.
It was always this way.
When we came together, the environments were dramatic. We were the calm and steady ones.
No one knew the circumstances we would each eventually face.
That is what must have called us toward each other.
The look in our eyes. The knowing.
We were never the kind to question “why me?” But to ask “what now?”
Never would we wish our circumstances on another. Never would we even dream of burdening another with the content. Just figure out how to manage them and keep going.
We would each scoff at the word “brave.” It never occurred to us that we were “being” brave. It was simply what there was to do. You just put one foot in front of the other and deal with what is before you.
What is courage? It’s being afraid, but doing it anyway.
What if this happens? What if that happens? What if this happens? What if that happens?
None of those things have even happened yet.
My grandmother used to say... “What if the sun comes out?!!”
When all was said and done, what was going to matter in the end?
What others didn’t know? Or how they felt?
Love. Just love.
It will always come down to love.
Before my grandmother took her last breaths, she held my hand and pursed her lips to blow a kiss to me. She was saying goodbye. I knew it and she knew it in spite of her severe brain injury. She called herself back for those few moments to say goodbye in that tender and intimate way because nothing could break the love between us, not even death.
It took my father’s terminal illness for us to heal our relationship. But we did heal and painful but beautiful and magnificent truths were revealed to one another as a result. And as he was dying, a love began which had finally grown steady and strong and at last, had a chance to live.
“Death ends a life but it does not end a relationship.” (Robert Anderson)
With every loss we shed a part of ourselves we cannot anticipate. It either tears us apart or wakes us up to what is deeply alive and meant to be known about ourselves and our relationship to this lifetime. I have shed many a skin.
In the film, Out of Africa, Karen says the following words about her beloved Denys:
“Now take back the soul of Denys George Finch Hatton, whom You have shared with us. He brought us joy... we loved him well. He was not ours. He was not mine.”
It is such a potent and significant moment. That recognition. Losing what we love the most and recognizing that it never belonged to us. How to hold both truths when our hearts move toward love and grasping rather than neutrality. Neutrality and emptiness is something we work to foster with our minds, but the natural movement of the heart has a compass of its own which moves in its own direction and occurs on a calendar of its own. One which is real and needs tending to in order for us to keep waking up to this full relationship of movement and shedding.
What is there for us to fear, really? Death? Loss of a loved one through death? If not that, what else? Pain, disfigurement, paralysis, blindness, ALS, cancer, loss of motor control. I could come up with a list which could create terror. But why? Anything could happen or it may not. It’s a crap shoot.
What is there to fear, really? Loss. Rejection.
But the truth, once learned, can be healed as long as you have a real desire to heal. It’s a decision.
My father left when I was two years-old and I barely saw him while I was growing up. It colored my life in a deep and significant way. Which was why when he became terminal, I became vigilant that we heal our relationship. It was a very important decision because I had tried for years to heal the fractures between us but did not have his participation in that endeavor, which subsequently, caused further and deeper fractures.
Had he left the earth in that way, I would have had a different kind of healing to do. So for last 5.5 years of his life when he was ill, when I pushed and ultimately helped him feel less afraid to die, we were both healed.
What is there to fear, really?
That those we love will not love us back? Well, it happens and it has happened to me more times than I can count from the people who are supposedly “contracted” to love us. But I believe that ultimately, unless you face what you fear, you cannot know what it means to really be free. The fear will keep showing itself to you again and again and hold you back.
I have learned things which have hurt me so much I didn’t think I would be able to survive knowing them. But the truth cannot kill us. It hurts. That’s all that it does. And then we get to decide what kind of life we want to live knowing what we know.
That’s how, for some of us, we can look around at others and see things in their eyes which tell us stories few could ever recognize in just one glance. How one may have survived something unspeakable. How another may have a strength in her that you would be lucky to be in the same room with or to ever be touched by.
I have learned things which have split me open. But I have always been grateful for every morsel of information. Because knowledge leads to choice and ultimately, healing.
I think of my Chaverim. We have endured much. But we fear little. And when we do, we know that what needs to be done is to step in and face whatever lies ahead. It’s all temporary except for the love which remains which when felt, is a strength which will endure.
For my Chaverim... and all who wish to step in and bless it ALL.