Friday, May 26, 2017

Grief and Gratitude

I've only experienced this feeling, this enormous grief, one other time in my life.  I was in college and had broken up with my boyfriend of 2 1/2 years. It was my choice.  I loved him deeply, but we weren't right for one another.  I knew that.  He was slower to know it. He begged and pleaded. Surprisingly, I had the courage to say no.

The thing about grief is that it swells and takes you under at unexpected moments. The checkout lane at the grocery store, when you're tucking your kids into bed, on the drive home from work...  And your whole body aches with it, is wracked by it.

This sounds dramatic, I know. But anyone who knows me knows that I don't do anything just a little bit.  I'm all in. Plunging. With abandon. And I've been all in for the last 12 years. I have given hours and tears and laughter and sweat and hope and forgiveness and love.  I've built a foundation. I've built friendships and community.  More than that.  I've built family.  And more than that, too. I've built an identity.  I came into myself there.  Roosevelt has been home.  And I'm leaving.

It's all becoming terribly real. The room is bare. Colleagues, teary eyed, pop in to say goodbye. I'm an emotional person and even I have been caught off guard by the depth of this sadness.  I'm not sure I've grieved to my core since Jon. It sounds silly to chalk up a break-up at 21 and a transfer to a new school as elements of grief -- deep soul-wrenching grief -- but they are, as much as anything. Because both are about a sense of self and identity.  With both, I'd built a future. I tethered myself. Cutting that cord is healthy, I know, but terrifying.  In doing so, I accept the free fall.  I relinquish control and safety and the familiar. And all I can do is hope. I hope I made the right decision.  I hope this isn't a colossal mistake. I hope people will like me. I hope I don't suck at my job. I hope I will build relationships as powerful as those I've built at Roosevelt. I hope it feels like family there too. I hope I don't regret it. I hope that what I've built isn't made of sand.

I have so much gratitude for Roosevelt. It's taught me the value of community.  It's taught me how to use my voice and how to shut up. It's taught me perspective and love. It's taught me compassion. It's taught me confidence and humility. It's taught me heartache. It's taught me strength and perseverance. It's taught me pride. It's taught me hope.

I mourned the end of my relationship with Jon for a long time. The decision for a different future didn't erase the past we shared, it didn't wipe away the love and attachment I had for the future we'd hoped to build together.  It was the right decision. I know this is the same. There will be joy and excitement. There will be laughter and friendship.  Home is where you make it.  I know, realistically, I'll be just fine.  But for now, there's grief.  There's loss. I'm untethering, free falling. I'm trusting, between seismic sobs, that this is right. I know it is.

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