"All the art of living lies in the fine mingling of letting go and holding on."
~ Havelock Ellis
~ Havelock Ellis
I have had this title and quote ready for about a week now, considering what I wanted to share about the process I've been going through as I let go of possessions I once thought so important. About how satisfying and mature it feels to let go - the shoes, the books, the incomplete projects, the attachments, the "just in case" stuff. Although I also was embarrassed at how many rulers, scissors, candles, index cards, post-its, etc. we still had after all my previous attempts to declutter. I also planned to include the names of a couple books that have been helpful in the process.
And, then, this week a lesson in letting go no book could adequately provide. This past Tuesday afternoon, a beautiful spring day in southern Utah, a large group of acquaintances gathered on the patio of a local restaurant to celebrate a successful event held earlier in the day. Drinks and appetizers added to the sense of conviviality. The festivities were well underway when she arrived, our eldest member. The sweet, charming, and cherished 90 year-old who has been a joy and inspiration to so many. She is interesting, curious, with a wonderful sense of humor. Always impeccably dressed, beautifully coiffed, her white hair surrounding a constant smile. In good health, intellectually, emotionally, and until very recently, physically.
She came on the arm of a good friend to say one final good-bye as recent health challenges have caused her to agree to move to an independent living facility near family in the mid-West. As we embraced, I could see the pain and sadness in her eyes. Trying to be of help, I said, "This must be so hard."
"Oh, it is, but it's for the best, I guess."
"I understand," I said.
"That's what everybody says. I understand."
And we hugged and exchanged kisses and promised to stay in touch. And I tried to tell her how much she has meant to me and how I will miss her.
But our conversation has niggled at me in the days and nights since. For I believe now that I missed her point. I don't understand. I don't know how many of us can. She is being asked to let go of her home, her friends, her independence, her sense of competency, the environment and weather and activities she has known for decades. And to do so gracefully. All within a couple months.
Why does this answer spring so easily? Because it is easier to say than to admit that we are afraid our time will come to have to let go of so much? So suddenly? I don't understand. Honestly, I hope I never have to. So I am going to call, and apologize and tell her that I don't understand. But I do care. And I will miss her. I will hold her in my heart and thoughts.