Last week, my dear mentor told me that she was hopping back home. She's decided to go back to school and pursue new challenges. While I'm thrilled to death for her, part of me is deeply saddened. I already feel her loss, even though she's not leaving for a few months. I didn't know what to do with my sorrow; how to deal with the pain I was feeling...and, OK, maybe even a little anger, so I waited for the wise Dharma Frog to appear for my Wednesday lesson. I was sure he would know just what to do.
Soon he appeared on my lily pad, right on schedule. As I greeted him and poured our tea, I told him about the deep feelings of loss I was experiencing. "Dharma, can you help me with this? I feel just awful. Part of me is sad because my friend is leaving. Part of me is happy for her, and part of me feels like I'm being abandoned. I'm all mixed up and I don't know what to do!"
Dharma thought for a moment then replied, "I understand Tadpole. Loss, whether it's from death or someone simply moves away like your teacher, can cause us great pain and discomfort. It's never easy to feel left behind. It is very painful, I know. But you can, and will, get through this. And on the other side you'll feel happier, and you'll realize what a gift she has given you; not only in being your friend and teacher, but also by her leaving. It's hard to believe now, but it will be so. We can learn a great deal from our pain, Irwin, even more than we can from our joy. I will be here to help you all I can." And with that, my wise teacher began my lesson in accepting and dealing with loss.
He told me that it's easy for us to replay old messages; that we can't count on anyone...that everyone leaves us. And while that may, or may not, be true in the past we must learn to live in the present and to recognize each situation for what it is. We can't, and shouldn't, judge it based solely on our past experiences.
"Remember, little one, that you may experience feelings of insignificance, as well. If they cared, how could they just up and leave? But that's not true. They do care. Learning to be okay with the fact that we'll probably never see or hear from them again isn't easy. Finding someone who truly 'gets us' is a rare and wonderful experience. We need to be grateful for their friendship, even when it's time for them to go." I sponded in a flash, "But, Dharma, it HURTS to let go!"
"I know, Irwin. I know."
He explained that talking about my feelings, telling my friend Kim what she has meant to me, will help with the healing process. Talking openly and honestly about the feelings of loss and separation can help to ease endings, and opens the door to new beginnings. Professional and personal relationships only work when everyone is truthful. Honesty is part and parcel of trust. And trust is what true relationships build and grow on. Kim has always been honest with me, so I had to ask myself if I was ready to be honest with her...to tell her what she means to me; and I think I am.
"Irwin, only when you learn to accept loss as part of life can you truly appreciate your relationships. That is why, my young student, we must always have gratitude for what we have, here and now. A frog's true friend is his best possession. But nothing lasts forever. Life is transient. Everything is in transition...always. Water moves. Air moves. Frogs move. Nothing flourshes with stagnation." And, of course, I knew he was right. I can always count on Dharma to help me see things more clearly. He paused for quite awhile then finally said, "When you see Kim as the gift she is and are ready to share that gift with the world then, Tadpole, you'll be able to say goodbye and know with complete certainty that she won't truly be gone. Her lessons, her love, and her friendship will forever be a part of you. She'll be right here, in your heart, whenever you need her. Be happy for her, my boy. She's going out into the world and trying new things. You could learn from that, Irwin. Maybe it's time you, too, went out into the world and experienced new things and new places...expanding your own horizons might be the best thing for you. You won't know if you don't try."
As my wise teacher hopped away, I wiped a tear from my eye. Losing someone we love and value is one of life's toughest lessons. It's one most of us would rather not learn. But it happens to each and every one of, frogs and humans alike.
I thought about what Dharma had said. I know that my friend Kim won't forget me. I know that I'll always be a part of her, just as she will always be a part of me. We may never again cross paths, but the lessons she's taught me will last forever. I am happy for her. I know she'll be awesome at whatever she does. Somewhere out there, there's another frog just like me who'll need and benefit her wisdom, too. She'll come along at the perfect time for them, just as she did for me.
It makes feel good to know that she'll be teaching and helping others for many years to come. And when you have something wonderful, it's always great to be able to share it. And that's how I'm looking at this. I'm not really losing Kim. I'm simply sharing her awesomeness with others. And awesomeness is definitely a gift to share!