Yesterday, mother, bless her dementia-ridden heart, wept about two lost friends. They weren’t really lost – they were there all along. In fact both of them had written her just days ago. But she couldn’t remember, and had hopelessly misplaced their letters.
The grief of the perception that they had abandoned her was all too real, perpetuating many rationalizations to try to make sense of these dear ones choosing to leave her life. They can’t handle the reality of my illness. Fair-weather friends. They must be busy with their better-than-mine life. Some people get scared and don’t know what to say.
Anything but looking inward and/or right in front of her nose…She had the answer all along, but it was just shy of her grasp.
Interestingly, she repeatedly rejected efforts to correct her perception; nothing could deter her from her determination to grieve about friendships lost that weren’t, really.
Perhaps she was aware at some level of her condition robbing her of her friendships and, still not wishing to embrace her demise, pawned it off on them instead so she could engage in this displaced grief – to grieve without having to own her part in not being able to maintain the friendships, as she gradually slips away.
So all I could do was validate her misguided reality and go along with it, agreeing that people can be cruel, mmm-hmming that a disability surely will expose who true friends are and aren’t, and reminding her that like children and their playmates, people change and grow and move on.
She concluded that while the pain of “losing” these friends was real, she took solace in knowing she now has some wonderfully interesting, new friends who enrich her life in different ways.
As such, our “play”-list necessarily evolves and changes.
Later this week a girl suffered the loss of the friendship of a-much older man after a telling letter was intercepted. Sometimes good therapy involves shaking up and opening Pandora’s Box, letting the chips explode all over the place and letting them fall, so they can be stacked up and organized in the light of day. So a white-knuckled, box-shaking, out-in-the-open meeting was held.
This meeting was followed that evening by a stormy call she prematurely ended with her angry father who was trying to explain to her why the relationship was inappropriate; he’d crossed a line, should have known better, blahbeddy-yakkedy-blahX3. Trying to reach out to her in a relative way, she would have to delete that song from her playlist, he’d said.
She told me yesterday that after sleeping on it, she had started to feel grateful that everything had come to a head. But the grief of losing her friend had left a big, dark, black hole in the center of her being. “He was the only one who really understood me, the only one I could ever talk to that openly,” she cried.
She didn’t feel ready to delete that song from her playlist…and yet it was made clear at the meeting, it would have to be. No, it already had. Though she’d searched the archives and knew the song had been there not long ago, it was no longer there to be played. He had been dropped from her play-list; she knew it was time to acknowledge the update and move on.
And then she incorporated her father’s wisdom regarding the relationship, arriving at the same conclusion: the loss is real, but real, too, is the future with new people and places, and the comfort and hopeful anticipation that brings.
Like good friends and good music, both people and playlists are fluid, ever-changing.
My birthday is coming up and each year one of my gifts is an iTunes gift card. I only keep songs on my iPod that propel me on my runs. Some of them wear thin after several months and give way to newer, must-have songs that spin me around. Yet I always keep a small handful of songs on there that allow me to pay homage to the unspoken depths of my heart. The key, I’ve found, is keeping it on “shuffle;” this way I can be assured that I will never spend too much time wallowing in those depths and can discover new energy in the latest additions.
God, thank You for updating and shuffling our play-lists as we go through our lives; for forcing us to play new songs and to carve out new depths in our hearts with new experiences as You move us on.