Parting is such sweet sorrow for me every time someone I’m close to heads home after a visit. The fact is, I don’t do well with goodbyes at all and haven’t for quite some time.
I’m sure it has a lot to do with some abandonment issues that stem from my parent’s early deaths. I’m also convinced it’s tied to the reality that I have very few people in my life I consider myself extremely close to. And, it most likely can be attributed as well to the emptiness and loneliness I continue to face in life due to the limitations I have from my ongoing health issues.
I clearly remember when this feeling first began, as it was right after my father had committed suicide and my mother had come for a visit. I can still see her passing through the inspection area at the airport on her way home, turning around and waving, wondering if this might be the last time I ever see her again, tears falling from my eyes in the process. When she died tragically a number of years later, still relatively young, that feeling only intensified each time someone parted ways with me after spending an extended amount of time together.
Once both of my parents were gone, I stopped allowing people to get close to me. Truth be told, I pretty much kept everyone at arm’s length at that point other than three people: my best friend Cedric, my sister Laura, and the person I was in a committed relationship with. Over the years though, I’ve worked through much of those abandonment issues and started opening up a little more. For a while, things definitely changed for the better and I noticed I wasn’t as sad when people close to me left after a visit. Unfortunately, when the chronic pain issues of my life kicked in, I started to withdraw again and have been ever since.
My pain has caused me to isolate, not so much by choice, but by the reality of my current state of life where it’s hard to be doing much of anything, especially with people who aren’t hurting and don’t understand what I’m going through.
That’s why it was so difficult for me yesterday when my best friend left in the early afternoon, after his week-long vacation to my home here in Toledo, as he understands what I’m going through more than most. My tears began to fall during our last hug and didn’t stop falling for a good hour after he had actually driven away.
Yet, as I sit here and type these words, still feeling sad, I don’t think it’s all about my best friend’s departure. Rather, I’m beginning to believe it’s more about where I’m at in my life presently and how far away it feels like God is to me right now. And that has nothing to do with any of my own actions, as I do a ton of spiritual work every day hoping it may help me draw closer to God, except my pain often seems to block that from happening.
But somehow, when Cedric or Laura come for a visit, some of those blockages feel like they fall away, and it’s then I experience a little bit of God’s light back within me. This is probably why their parting becomes so sorrowful for me once their gone because not only am I missing them, I’m also missing that little bit of God I felt for the brief moments I did.
Nevertheless, that emptiness that’s generally created with their departure is something I used to immediately fill with addictions in my past. I usually did whatever I could to numb myself from this sadness and loneliness, almost immediately after they left. But this time, I’m choosing to do things differently. I’m choosing to just sit with it uncomfortably, and ask for God to fill that void instead with Him. Because ultimately, I know that when I’m filled with God’s presence, I tend to feel joy, even when those close to me in heart are now far away.
So, although parting really is such sweet sorrow for me at the present time, especially with my best friend now back at home some 700 miles away, I remain grateful for the joyful memories we created this past week. But even more importantly, I’m also grateful for the fact that I’m looking to God now to help me through this emptiness, and not some other person, place, or thing, as looking outside of myself to fill this void will only ever lead to the very thing I’m looking for God’s presence to take away…
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson