The Freedom in Letting Go

January 3, 2010 § 7 Comments

I used to think it was about letting go.  That when people left us, we had to let them go. They were gone.  They were lost.  Maybe they died, maybe they simply fell out of our lives.  My biggest challenge used to be letting go.

Before I moved to Calgary and after my brother died, I lived in his condo for a year.  I was holding on.  I was holding on so tightly.  Had it not been for my mother’s somewhat more than gentle push to get out of Millet, I would’ve stayed.  I would’ve held on.  Because I thought that if I held on tightly enough, it would mean that I wouldn’t ever forget him.  It would mean that I’d never actually have to lose him. And then maybe I wouldn’t have to miss him as much.

A voice inside my head kept telling me that I had to let go.  I had to move on with my life.  In fact that’s what we tend to hear from others trying to offer support, trying to breath some life back into us.  And maybe it is about letting go, at least to an extent.  I couldn’t hold onto what life was.  It couldn’t be the same, no matter how tightly I grasped at what I could.  When I left Millet, I hadn’t let go yet.  My parents and I kept his condo for a good six months, I went back almost every weekend and hung on.

I can’t pinpoint the exact time I began to let go, but I do remember the first time I was able to look at his picture and feel him smiling at me and be able to smile back, not from a place of sorrow, but from a place of happy memory.  I felt like he was telling me that I was okay.  I was through the woods.  I was headed uphill back to what life used to be like.

Today, I picked up his pocket watch.  It stopped ticking a long time ago, and I’ve never bothered to replace the battery.  As I thumbed the texture on the casing, examined the still hands, I realized something.  It is not the ticking of the hands that made the pocket watch a pocket watch.  I’ve carried it with me on occasion even without the ticking hands.  And just as the pocket watch remains what it is, so to does Wayne.  My brother is still my brother.  And I can bring him with me whenever I need to.  It’s not about holding on anymore.  I had to learn to let him go to get to the place that I found he is still here, though he may not tick, he can still exist as whatever I need him to be.

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§ 7 Responses to The Freedom in Letting Go

  • Very poignant, Wendy, and especially thought-provoking to start the new year. How will we keep special people and loved ones close in our hearts and minds while moving forward?

    Tough question and it is likely different for every one of us. I can remember long after my dad passing on going to pick up the phone to call him for advice and then realizing he would not be on the other end of the phone.

    Sometimes it is not just people that we have to let go, it is events and situations. We have to keep them in their place and move forward.

  • Clint Cora says:

    Believe it or not, many of us can get the same type of letting go problems with our pets. My first two dogs were both with me for 15 years and as a single guy, they meant that much more to me. So when they were gone, I had to take five years off as a dog owner before I was ready to do it again.

  • Tonya says:

    Wonderful post. I lost my father, four years ago, the day after Thanksgiving. While he and I were never really “close”, I always thought we had time. When our time ran out, I began holding on, as well.

    I’ve come to realize that much of my holding on was because of the guilt I felt at not initiating the beginning of a better relationship with my father.

    I’ve also come to, not only forgive myself, but to also accept and appreciate the good memories that we were able to share. It took a few years, but I was finally able to let my father go. Like your brother’s watch, I wear one of my father’s rings – on those days when I want to take him with me.

    Thank you for sharing!

  • Beautiful post, David.

  • I also lost a brother, so totally understand. Even now, many years later, something will come to mind and a tear will well up as I remember. It’s okay though, I accept it and allow my emotions to feel that moment. In narrative therapy it is called re-membering. It’s about allowing them back into our lives in a different way. Beautiful, personal thoughts and thank you for sharing them Wendy.

    Jenni Wright

  • John Tyler says:

    Wendy, It is amazing how different objects can hold such precious memories- makes those objects priceless!! It’s a tough thing to go through, losing your brother, his memory will live forever through you!

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