Love is this double-edged sword. It heals and inspires us and yet wounds and frightens us. Grief is love’s antonym. When we love, we risk loss. For the longest while after my sister died, I felt like I was the poster child for grief, for loving too much and needing to let go too soon. That year I lost 13 people in 13 months and had odd events happen. Job and I could have well had interesting conversations.
Since my sister’s death, I have had to say goodbye to many people. I have sat at bedsides waiting. I have had the privilege of praying and singing around the body of a dear friend as his soul floated free. I have witnessed the liberation that comes when one knows one is soon heading Home. I have held the sorrow, fear and anger as one of those left in the void. I am not an expert in grief but I have had a generous helping of it.
Thus, without saying, being on the potential side of leaving creates great stress for me. I want to throw on my superhero cape and protect everyone from any possible pain. Suzanne to the rescue! These past few months have been an interior journey of healing, of letting go of control, of letting people in, and of drawing boundaries differently. I have played the role of rescuer all my life and it was time to stop. This has not come easily to this loving heart of mine but as the retreat leader reminded us this past weekend, the commandment is to love your neighbour as yourself–to love others as much as you love yourself. One of the tasks on retreat was to write a letter to Jesus about a struggle. Mine dealt with this superhuman desire to stamp out fear and hurt in those supporting me. It is an exhausting superpower.
My letter went something like this:
I have been struggling with protecting people regarding my illness. I want to find the balance of being honest and being discreet, of talking too much about this sickness and living beyond it, of saying no to other people’s needs and yes to mine, of knowing that I could possibly be dying and still dearly loving my amazing life, and of hoping to stay and wanting to go. So many contradictions are out of my control. My kryptonite, as Brene Brown talks about, is this beautiful heart of love and compassion. All of our strengths taken too far or used for the wrong purposes can work against us, says Brown. Will you please show me how to do this better?
The next activity was to write a response:
My dear Suzanne,
I.have.this. I have you. I have them. Let me work miracles through this, through you, through them. Wait. Breathe. I know you are tired and worried. Give the journey to me. You are still my servant. Put down your superhero cape and let me wrap my cloak of protection around you. You are yoked to me. Your beautiful heart needs to rest and to receive. My angels will minister to you and to them. I have placed my mantle of peace over you. Accept it with joy. I love you. You are mine and so are they. Be at peace.
The cape is still in sight–within arm’s reach many days–even if I have taken it off. Old patterns are not easy to break. I must now do the work of living under the cloak instead of the cape. Surgery is being slated and now the hardest work of trusting begins. Let’s do this together under the mantle of the Master.