Attachment and loss, attachment and loss —– this is the human story. We lose parts of ourselves as we adapt to the demands of the world. Those for whom we care are often lost through death, divorce, or dysfunction. Whether we absorb those losses into our system and soldier on or remain stuck at the level of the loss is the question. Living an Examined Life (Wisdom for the Second Half of the Journey), James Hollis, PhD
Mimi rarely talked about Rachel. As far as she was concerned, Rachel had died a long time ago. When she did make reference to those hellish days, all she’d say was: “It was a very difficult time for both of them. (Both my uncle and his then wife, Rachel). She accepted Rachel leaving the marriage but what took a long time to forgive was that she left her too without even a note, as if she’d been invisible, as if all the nights she’d listened with great compassion, all the times she had assured and reassured support of whatever decision Rachel made, all the money that had been spent, all the love…on that day, Mimi said a boulder collided with her heart shattering it into umpteen pieces.
For Rachel, Russian Orthodox Church, Spain
Both my grandparents recorded their dreams. But my grandmother kept a diary.
April 29, Sunday morning
Two months ago, I lost my treasured daughter in law. Not to cancer or a car accident or to suicide, simply that she left without a trace. No word, no forwarding address, no phone. She disappeared and left not a remnant, not a shred that she’d ever even existed. There is no grave site to visit, no memorial service to attend, and no ritual in which to participate; no ritual to help close this gap. Thus it is.
On the day Zachary was served with his divorce papers, I splurged and bought lilies and Mozart-kugel chocolates, each Rachel’s favourite. The lilies perfumed the corridor so sweetly but now they’re dead and the chocolate I gave to the visiting children. No trace of her is left. I put the angel she embroidered for me in a box. I don’t know if I shall ever open that box again. Perhaps whoever cleans out my personal effects on the day I die, will find this beautiful memento and claim it for themselves.
I have the great fortune, however, to immerse myself in The Third Noble Truth—–Samsara: It is in the emptiness of letting go that the seed of new life has room to grow.
I’m not your mother. You have a mother. But I was your mother in law and that is a very special relationship or at least can be. Furthermore, I understood your struggles and I cared for you in a way that a mother cannot as a mother is too close to give space during times of turmoil. Her natural reaction is to just protect, while a mother in law offers the option of distance, reflection.
To do no harm.
I am ashamed to say that I would like to disgrace and humiliate you because I am so angry. Digging deeper: Underneath my anger is great sadness. I have lost you and that breaks my heart. Still, I can’t bring myself to cause more harm because I am conscious of what I do and will have to live with those actions well beyond my own death. I don’t seek the revenge that many would expect an even score card to deliver. The fact of the matter is: pain is pain and no amount of harmful actions or disparaging remarks would bring you back again.
At the end of the day, your family, in their hatred of Zach, collectively punished all of us. And I know you are too weak and fragile to do anything other than meet their demands and live the life they decide for you to live, so to even wish for a note, a sentence, a whisper that you are on solid ground is beyond what they will allow you to do. And you have no choice in the matter. I knew this on February 28th, the last time I talked to you. I didn’t think it would be quite as severe but indeed it has turned out that way. I cannot predict nor can I even speculate your family karma so I would never make assumptions here. What I do hope is that you are able to find your way someday. Your own way.
I send you blessings and light and I pray for you, though less and less. It’s too painful at the moment because I can’t stop crying. I have cried a thousand rivers worrying about you, missing you, longing for you to come back into our lives but now I am approaching the finish line and the rainbow is in the sky and I no longer need you in my life to love you. I do look forward to the day, however, I wake up and get through the whole day without thinking about you.
I must get through these days as my mother in law did. Hanging laundry, sweeping floors, preparing beds; living in uncertain times. She lived in an atmosphere of loss. Apocalyptic loss. Everything was taken from her and yet she still found the compassion to forgive, to smile, and to remember God. In the most surprising ways, I am still learning from my mother in law who taught me how to love with wide open arms in spite of a suffering heart.
It may fall on deaf ears, but do try and remember your own heart. I accept that you need to be alone and accept that you need to sort your own life path and I wish you nothing but success on this journey.
If at all possible, don’t go the way of the materialists if you can help it. The money will not make you happy, not intrinsically at any rate though it will buy plenty of things and then more things but this is because you were not and are still not properly mothered that one would have this craving and I know this because we share these same beginnings.
The art students were here over the weekend. We hung their art work in the L’Orangerie. This weekend, I looked for you everywhere. At the crest of the hill, I looked for your smiling face, longed to hear your laughter. So wanted to share all of this beauty with you and actually, with Zach, foolishly thinking that if I could have just kidnapped both of you on that fateful day and brought you here and surrounded you in beauty and rest and poetry and art that you could have healed your hearts, in turn, your marriage.
Alas, this is not to be. I will always love you, my dearest of dears.
“If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the ploughs in the fields and sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a colour that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?” Karen Blixen
When you have to leave something behind…