Lebanese poet philosopher Kahlil Gibran beautifully sums up the essence of relationships with the lines:
“Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”
Over the years I’ve witnessed the passing away of several near and dear ones and some really close friends. I have also observed good and close friends drift apart, often for frivolous reasons and the consequent hurt that lingers, often through life. Parting of a loved one is always painful, especially when that person just moves away or moves on suddenly and without any warning. What consolation can one offer to the shell-shocked and agonized family and friends of the girl who died in the blaze at the restaurant on her birthday? Where can one find the balm that will bring comfort to the inconsolable and shattered hearts of those who die daily in war-torn or terror zones of this world? How can one help fill the vacuum that is left behind in so many broken or shattered hearts across the world?
Call it grief or call it mourning; the implication is the same – being bereft. A person you have known intensely, trusted and loved just goes away, just moves on – never to return. There is deep discomfort and a loneliness which cannot be shared. And, when it is unexpected and sudden, there is first a stunned numbness, followed by intense searing agony. It is like having a huge stone heavily weighing down on the chest. It cannot be removed, nor can the burden be shared. One has to bear it alone.
Often tragedy strikes with such lethal stealth that there is no time to even say goodbye!
At times like these Tagore’s verse from the
Gitanjali come to mind:
I have got my leave
Bid me farewell!
I bow to you all and take my departure.
Here I give back the keys of my door and
I give up all claims to my house.
I only ask for last kind words from you.
We were neighbours for long
But I received more than I could give.
Now the day has dawned
And the lamp that lit my dark corner is out.
A summons has come
And I am ready for my journey!
Those who suddenly lose a loved one through death or disagreement go through many heart-rending emotions and phases before they are able to finally accept the tragedy that has befallen them. Time, they say, is a great healer. One gradually learns to live without the love and physical presence of the loved one. In a sense, one reconciles with the harsh realities of life and learns to ‘Love, Live and Let Leave’. A dull pain will always linger or resurface from time to time, but, human beings usually manage to see a rainbow through their tears. It is the law of nature! In the words of poet Jalaludin Rumi, “the wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
Destiny is written on the day of our birth. Between birth and death there is a bridge of time. We need to cross it someday and go to our rightful place. When the sun seems to set in one part of the hemisphere it rises in another. Life and loss is like that. We all come into this world for a reason, but some come into this world and indeed our lives, only for a season. Nothing lasts forever. Everyone and everything that we hold on to so tightly and dearly, comes with an expiry date. Even love and happiness comes with an expiry date.
Valentine’s Day is a reminder that relationships are special and extremely fragile and we must all learn to respect, value, honour, treasure and celebrate them while we still have them. People, like roses, may simply wilt away before time. Only God’s love remains with us eternally. The others – family and friends – God only lends us to love.