Losses and Gifts

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We experience so many losses in our life, and so many gifts.

It’s Christmas time, and I had been planning to get the heck out of town to avoid the pain of not having Jason here, opening gifts together. This morning I pulled up the courage to pull out his Christmas stocking and I let the tears flow. I had embroidered “JASON” on the stocking when he was a baby. Opening the stocking Christmas morning was one of two holiday rituals Jason was still into as a teen. In the past few years that stocking has held so many mints (his favorite candy), gag gifts, I.O.U’s for massage, music and photography equipment, and other treats, and money (of course). My stocking may not have been as overstuffed as his, but it was overflowing with laughter and love from Jason’s creative gifts (and special ones from Kule, too). Jason jumped out of bed Christmas morning to open stockings in front of the Christmas fire with hot chocolate. It’s the only day of the year I can say he did that; the rest of the year, unless we were catching a plane, it was like pulling teeth to get him out of bed!

The second of the two holiday rituals he enjoyed was playing with the Christmas village, some ceramic houses with lights that we used to decorate with small plastic fish and frogs and lizards and various other random things. It’s such a comical scene and an opportunity for creative theatrics, that Jason always looked forward to with me and his friends. I almost gave the village away last year because he thought he grew out of it, but we set it up one last time and had a ball with all the memories of what this village has survived. I will set the houses out and get his little animals out of his treasure chest to play with Jason once again. I’m guessing it will be fun, as always.

Losing Jason has been a tremendous loss; I still cry daily in acknowledgment of this. This loss has also given me the opportunity to feel the greatest love and gratitude for what I have had and continue to have in my life. I would not have chosen this, but I am able to see the gifts I am receiving.

I’ve observed that when I focus on loss, then I feel the downward spiral into depression and despair. The other day when I was thinking about how I lost Jason, I started questioning why I’ve had to experience this and so many other losses in my life – a divorce and other failed relationships, my father’s Alzheimer’s and death, a late miscarriage, my mother’s cancer and depression (now both fine, thankfully), my dear aunt’s brain surgery and move to relatives far away, two dear friends who didn’t survive bone marrow transplants, my band Bluegate that moved away, etc, etc. I felt so sorry for myself and started asking why I had to have these losses. Why does anyone have to suffer these kind of losses? I felt confusion and despair.

Then I was reminded of how I grew and became alive with each loss. Each time, I reflected on what I gained from each loss, the gifts I received from each person or situation. I’m also being called to share my experiences with others; it may assist them with their healing.

When we focus on the suffering, that’s what we experience. When we focus on the gifts, then we feel uplifted. I believe sadness about a loss can be a gift, because it reminds us of how much we received from that dear person in our lives, how they contributed to our aliveness in some or many ways. I feel that gratitude daily, along with the tears.

I’m not afraid to die, and now, for the first time in my life, I’m not afraid to lose others. I used to worry that something would happen to me and Jason wouldn’t have a mother. Now I see how all that energy was wasted. Of course, it never occurred to me he would go first! So many parents have told me how hard it was for them to hear about my losing my son, because they couldn’t imagine losing their own children. Some have deep fears about this. I do believe every soul has its own time, and it’s important to accept the soul’s path or choice, no matter how hard it feels. All we can do is live each moment as if it could be our last, without thinking of it as our last moment. It’s a new beginning every moment, and an opportunity to receive so many gifts and create wonderful memories. My awesome memories of Jason keep him alive in a way I never would have imagined. Kule and I strive to live each moment fully and trust that we will always be together in spirit.

I believe that we can live life more fully if we are not afraid of death.

I know that with each loss I will also gain. It may not be apparent immediately, but I trust that I am continuing to evolve going forward. I am presented with opportunities to grow. Every time I lost a romantic relationship, I expressed gratitude to that dear man of how much I learned and grew with him. Every time I lost a close friend or relative to death, I gained a relationship with their spirit that influences me in a way that it feels they are part of me. I have taken on some of the things Jason taught me in a bigger way, such as patience and being in the moment. I know I laugh and appreciate beauty everywhere and in everyone so much more easily having had him in my life. These are such precious gifts.

I now like the idea of hanging Jason’s stocking. I always liked his stocking more than mine, so he’s given me permission to share his. I’ll embroider Michelle on the other side of the stocking, to remind me that we are one, and that every gift I ever gave him was a gift to myself.