Blog BHAY, #9 in series of 14 about “Good to Go, Hard to Leave”: Letting Go to Take Hold

Sunset over the bayside of Long Beach Island, NJ

I’m moving in stages. I’ll be creating my new home carload by carload, and then in one big truck load. Today I’m making room for the first carload: the cats, their letterboxes, litter, food, and scratching post, plus my bedding, towels, some cleaning supplies, kitchen goods, just enough clothes to see me through my first week, plus my phone and laptop.

Without cable, wifi, or furniture the first night will be “interesting”. It might be peaceful solitude, it could be painful loneliness, or a mix of both. I’m not looking forward to finding out. The reality of the change will be unavoidable. I’ll need to make several trips back west to deal with my and will take advantage of those chances to see friends so I won’t be totally adrift. Eventually I’ll grow new roots and by God’s grace flourish as a transplant. But in the meantime, I’ll feel the change in my bones and heart. There’s a certain grief that comes with any transition, even when it’s a happy change like a much-anticipated new job. 

That first night, the grief will be present without the usual anesthesia of binge watching available, so I will probably notice it more. I may call friends and family, or get drive-thru fast food, or practice meditation. It’s hard to know, I will  deal with it when it comes up.

Today I experienced a wave of grief when my brother went home after he generously spent time helping me: he bought and installed a new smoke detector, got boxes for me, paid for the pizza at lunch, took things to the shed, and was just good to have around. Then he left. After all, he does have a life and a job five hours away. I immediately missed having him around, and is likely a hint of how I’ll feel that first night in my new home.

In response to the surprise wave of sadness: I videoed the cats, took a nap, ate leftover peach pie for dinner, recycled my plastic bags and bought my soda of choice. I’m fine. I still miss him, but I’m fine.

In their classic book, All Our Losses, All Our Griefs, the authors Kenneth Mitchell and Herbert Anderson name the reality that there is grief involved in most changes, even “happy” changes like a wedding or a new job. To grab onto something new, you have to let go of something familiar, and that letting go will involve some form of grief. If that grief goes unnoticed, it can show up in some sideways form.

The grief I experienced after Tom left for his home is a heads up that my first night, and perhaps more nights and days, will involve grief as I change my grip on my life, so I can take hold .of my life in its new form.

Because I’m actively anticipating some grief in this change, I hope not to be immobilized or blindsided by my feelings. As I say, “feelings are real, but feelings don’t always reflect reality.” I may feel raw and vulnerable when I move; the reality is that friends and family are only a phone call away, God’s got my back and holds my heart, and I have moved before and things turned out well. My feelings are like waves on the ocean, so I’m going to surf my first night feelings, not fight them, and wait for the next wave. With God’s help, I may enjoy the ride.

Today’s Prayer Poem: “Sea-Fever” by John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

Grace and peace,


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