Do you realize that we spend the majority of our lives existing and experiencing everything that the world has to offer us through cycles? Some are blatantly obvious. Birth ultimately becomes death. School eventually transforms into a career. The sun beautifully sets and the moon majestically illuminates the night sky. Cycles are seemingly endless.
But what if the most significant cycles are less obvious? What if they begin without most of us even recognizing their existence? And what happens when we actually acknowledge their importance in our lives? Magical things.
For any cycle to begin, there has to be a catalyst – something has to set it off. Once this occurs, there is no turning back. I had always heard that losing someone you love changes you. But, I had never given that statement much thought. Why would I? As a 21 year old, you never expect to lose your best friend.
Sometimes you meet a person and you just click – you’re comfortable with them and you don’t have to pretend to be anyone or anything. Two days after Christmas, I lost my person. I was was blind-sided. The next six months were hell and the struggle continues, because no one can teach you how to grieve. You have to work through it completely on your own.
This was a huge problem for me because I like rules. I like to have a set of guidelines for how to accomplish a task so that I can do that and move onto the next thing. But grief doesn’t work like that. One day you are on top of the world, and you feel as though nothing can bring you down. You feel like maybe, just maybe you’re moving on with your life. And then, out of nowhere, you find yourself sobbing uncontrollably at 2am in your car, on the school bus, or in the back of a movie theater. The fire in your chest almost suffocates you. It holds you hostage until you finally stop resisting. The loneliness, sadness, anger, confusion, bitterness, and emptiness pass through you, and before you know it, you’re on the other side. You know this won’t be the last time that you will feel smothered by your emotions, unable to breathe. But you’ve survived, and instead of running away from the pain, you stood there and you took it. And guess what? The next time the sadness overwhelms you, you’ll make it through again. You will be okay, I promise.
Grief is a cycle. Eight months ago, I didn’t understand that. I thought the sadness would eventually stop. It has taken months to realize the importance of allowing myself to cry whenever and wherever I need to (even if that means i’m practically heaving in the back of movie theaters). I’ve learned how to truly express all of my emotions, not just the happy, cheerful ones. I’ve learned that taking care of myself, and learning how to love and accept myself is more important than always trying to make other people happy. But, the most important thing that I’ve realized is that the minute you stop trying so hard to impress other people or seek their approval is when your perspective and appreciation for life changes.
For the past several months, I’ve been trying to write about the influence Melissa’s death has had on my life, and how it has changed me. But, honestly, her death hasn’t changed me. I’ve always ended phone calls with “I love you’s” instead of “goodbyes.” I’ve always tried to let my loved ones know how important they are to me, and how grateful I am for their influence on my life. So no, Melissa’s death didn’t change me. It did open my eyes to the realization that she wasn’t, isn’t and won’t be the only person with whom my soul connects.
From the second we started talking, we both unconsciously decided to be completely ourselves. That was the catalyst that set off the new cycle of our friendship. It should have taken effort on both of our parts, because being vulnerable is scary. Yet it was so effortless, that neither one of us noticed. Had she not passed away, causing me to mourn the loss of that relationship, I doubt I would have ever realized that I already share this effortless connection with the other special people in my life.
Once you notice and realize that the most special cycles begin effortlessly and when you least expect it, how can you not wake up every morning smiling? Because for me, simply knowing that today could be an opportunity for my soul to potentially fall in love with someone else’s is reason enough to smile.