Yesterday I threw out a hole-y, faded old pair of jeans.
Last week in Dallas I visited B., a dear friend of my mom’s, who has recently been moved into assisted-living.
Years ago I watched F., my friend, suddenly lose her husband.
I’ve been thinking about all the ways and times we have to let go of some thing, or some place, or some one, and how hard it is . . . at least for me . . . to let go.
B. is an artist, but because of deforming arthritis, she had to give up her paints and sunny studio a while back, and now she left her family home, living alone in one small room.
Gradual, difficult loss.
F.’s husband tragically died in a bus accident.
Sudden, difficult loss.
I remember that dry, winter day we gathered at our mission guest house in Bolivia; a somber, sorrowful group, sitting there — disbelieving — with F. and her three young children, facing the cold coffin under the windows that looked out into the garden.
Then suddenly: bright orange flames – FIRE! – burst through the tall hedge wall.
Everyone jumped up.
Someone found the hoses.
Someone organized a bucket brigade from the kitchen sinks.
Men carried the coffin out while women led the children out the gate.
Flames spread. Sparks flew high. Smoke filled the air.
I kept thinking, What? Are You going to let our guest house burn down, God?
The complete block of hedge-pine was consumed, the burning on the roof was quenched, and we reorganized and finished the funeral at the cemetery.
That next week Jake and I were asked to move out of our home so it could be a boarding house for F.’s three children.
From the time we are toddlers (“It’s mine!”) up to old age (losing loved ones, health, independence), we must learn to let go.
Sometimes it is piddly, under our control, like throwing out old jeans, or moving out of a house.
But many times letting go is tough; having no control over what is happening is distressing, even frightening.
Dear F. What she suffered! Losing her husband and having to let her children go to another city for their educational needs.
I cannot imagine living through that.
And dear B. I found her cheery and spunky, yet honest, about how hard it is to live with her health challenges and to navigate this transition.
Afterward I was troubled, hoping I never have to face all that.
“Those who live life with a sense of gift and grace,
tend to do so to the very end.” *
That explains B.’s amazing, trusting spirit.
Her twisted, arthritic hands are — symbolically — open to God, gratefully receiving what He gives, faith-fully letting go what He takes away.
Sigh . . . I wish I were more like that.
I need God to help me live open-handedly in my inner soul and to the very end, knowing this: all of life is gift and grace.
*from a booklet called “Hard Choices for Loving People” by Hank Dunn
It had been only two weeks and I was grateful I could see her in her new place. I was wondering how she was accepting the loss upon loss.