Have you ever mourned someone who was still alive?
It's an odd predicament to be in.
People usually talk about mourning someone who has already passed.
But this person (a close family member of mine) is still fully alive and well. It's just that I can't seem to have a healthy relationship with him. I'm not even sure how much I'm willing to open myself up for an active relationship with him nowadays, to be honest.
We tried to make it work so many times. At some point, you just have to take a step back and stop engaging in the same old pattern of abuse.
I find myself grieving over my lost familial relationship.
I see his brilliant potential. I recall the beautiful times we shared together. I love him so, so much. But it seems like it's often better for us both if we have minimal or no contact with each other.
When I was younger, this family member was a HUGE part of my life! Although we were separated by 3,000 miles for much of my childhood, we talked on the phone extremely frequently. Sometimes for multiple hours at a time, and most days each week.
I always had a sense of when to call, and we'd joke that I had a sixth sense of knowing exactly when he was walking in the door! He would joyfully rush over to the phone (oh my gosh, it was a landline phone -- remember those???), knowing that I was waiting to chat.
We talked about all sorts of things. Baseball, Jazz, The Beatles, movies, nature, backpacking, our dreams of adventures together . . .
Sometimes we would watch baseball games on TV "together" -- I would sit on the couch with my mit in hand and we'd stay on the phone together for the duration of the game.
I always looked forward to the few precious weeks each year when I could be with him in person.
He took such care to make my visits with him so extraordinary. We'd go on adventures in nature, make special sundaes (we figured out that the best combination was a warm waffle + ice cream + chocolate sauce + strawberry sauce + whipped cream), watch movies, cook elaborate meals.
He gave me knowledge of the WORLD! He taught me to cook, how to camp and backpack, how to have a thoughtful discussion. He taught me about The Beatles and Bob Dylan. He showed me countless classic movies from the 1930s to present day.
As I got older, our relationship changed. He moved to be geographically closer to me and I was understanding how to be a more independent young adult.
He made some major missteps and we were both deeply hurt. I'm not abdicating responsibility. I hurt him, too.
Making the decision to fully remove myself from his life was one of the hardest things I've ever done.
I didn't do this quickly, either. It was more of the "pull-the-band-aid-off-really-slowly" type method. It was excruciating -- esp. because I continued to care for this person SO DEEPLY.
I'm not going to delve into the details, but our relationship had been extremely toxic for years and I made the decision that I no longer wanted to subject myself to such emotional trauma. I was very ill with a chronic illness. I was limping through my senior year of college. I didn't want to worry about when he would next contact me, which was always a deeply emotionally triggering event for me. So I set a boundary. I asked him to stop contacting me and I told him that I would always, always love him and that I wished him well.
My relationship with this family member has featured a long process of grieving.
When I was a young child, I grieved over the physical distance that separated us. I used to cry for hours because I missed him so much. I remember wailing in my bed after saying goodbye to him at the airport.
When I was a young adult, (middle school through high school), I grieved when our emotional connection was slowly replaced with emotional tension.
When I was a college student, I grieved when I visited him in person for what might be the final time. I grieved over my loss of this person in my life. The profound companionship we'd shared was gone. Even a simple email exchange was wrought with tension.
I continue to grieve.
Sometimes I cry during movies with similar plotlines (I remember the last movie we watched together: The Philadelphia Story).
But most of the time, I grieve quietly, rather invisibly.
It's odd to grieve over someone who still lives.
I mean, yeah, I could pick up the phone and talk to him. But would it cause more good or more harm? After all, I don't want him to feel a sense of false hope. I don't want to let him down. I'm not willing to commit to an involved relationship with him at this point.
So I'm grieving.
He crosses my mind fairly frequently and I wonder how he's doing, what he's doing, what beautiful intellectual conversations we might have.
I see his absolute brilliant potential. I see how caring and thoughtful he was toward me on countless occasions, I see how he truly wished to do his absolute best. I feel his deep love.
As I've healed some deep wounds in myself, he's initiated a sprinkling of communication with me lately. He contacted me for the first time in years the day after I had a profound healing session. It's no coincidence -- we are deeply energetically connected and I'm sure he's felt my energetic shifts on some level.
I don't wish to speak ill of him because I genuinely do not feel any ill will toward him at all. I have so much love in my heart for him. I hesitated even writing and posting the article because I don't want to speak ill of him.
On a spiritual level, I'm really thankful for all of our experiences together. He taught me so much about boundaries, self-worth, and independence. Sure, I learned the lessons in a difficult way. But he helped me learn.
I believe that we as souls choose so many of the details of our lives before we even incarnate.
One of the biggest choices we make as a soul is choosing which family to incarnate into. I chose my family. I chose him. I chose to learn from him and he taught me. I'm endlessly thankful for this exchange between us.
As my life progressed, I chose to distance myself from him. I chose to heal. I now choose to see him with love.
I choose to leave the door of possibility open. I have no idea what the future will hold for us (though I would be surprised if there were major changes in our current relationship setup). I release myself from expectation.
Today, I choose to grieve. I choose to acknowledge the deep sadness in my heart, while also holding space for the infinite love that is ever-present within me, around me, between us.
I choose to love him endlessly, from afar. I choose to love myself endlessly, too.
I choose to share my story with you, Dear Reader, in case it brings you peace in knowing that if you, too, are grieving a lost relationship, you are not alone.
I'm here, listening to John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" (my family member associated this album with me before I was even born). Pull up a chair, Dear Reader. Let our hearts connect and dispell our illusion of separation.
Love and light to you <3