Last Sunday marked the three-year anniversary of my Mom’s death. As with many milestones in my life, the anticipation was much more intense than the actual day. This year I found myself focused on doing two seemingly contradictory things: focusing on staying the course (with everything – my plans for the year, career priorities, excercise schedule, whatever) and also letting go (of the past, of the grief, of the irrational hope that she would come back, to name a few things).
But when I think about what it means to stay the course and to let go, two words come to mind that merge these otherwise very different concepts:
And it’s the right time of year for that, too. The end of summer (I can’t be the only mom/parent embarassingly delighted that her kids are back in school, right??), start of the academic year, business retreats, conventions, and the like – all fill my fall calendar. Moving on.
I also take the opportunity at this time of year to clean out closets, move furniture around, re-arrange our household processes, and generally improve anything that can be improved. Moving on.
There is power in this annual routine for me. (It’s like spring cleaning, only later.) It is the power to embrace and leverage the engergy surrounding change in my life. Change means many things – for me, though, it consistently brings a boost of activity, focus and productivity.
So how do I apply that benefit to my grief? How can I allow the power of change to help transform me, even as I recognition of the years that are passing by -adding ticks to the lapse in time “after Mom died.” (I am very aware that one day, we will mark certain family events based on the years it’s been since she left us. I don’t do it yet – I can’t – but it’s coming.) I am not sure, but I think it is by moving on. Choosing to live. To let go; to acnowledge that it is ok that the time is passing, it is ok to let some things go. Whether those things are belongings or stages of grief, it is ok and even healthy to release them– when the time is right and not before.
I have new friends that I’ve met since she died. My son learned to ride a bike; my daughter started preschool. Mom’s not here for any of those watershed moments. But we are moving on – living in the moment – letting go of the past and setting our sights on tomorrow. I know that she would want it that way.