Make a sacred offering to the gods of infinitesimal details.

“The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Ah love, I’ve been looking for you. I thought I’d find you here.

Open your weary eyes and look at me. This is the holding-on space. I remember well the constant echo of your questioning soul. The way your resignation lives firmly encased within your remaining hope. The tenuous grip you have on what is, and your hesitant reaching for an uncertain future

Soon the day will come for your leave-taking. Perhaps that day is now. Perhaps you wonder if it will ever come. Maybe you wait anxiously, biding your time until the pieces fall into alignment. You may have no idea until the moment arrives and it is necessary to be gone.

One day soon, love, it will be necessary to be gone.

That day is coming, and faster than you realize. There is much of the upcoming journey for which you can never be prepared. Wisdom that will not integrate until life has worked its way through you. But I will tell you this now, while you are still able to listen.

Take the time, love, to notice the specifics of your leaving. Pay exquisite attention to the details of what this life has been.

The way his eyes crinkle at the corners and his lips tilt when he smiles. The exact color of light that shines in your bedroom window at dawn and how he looks illuminated like that. The cadence of sigh and shift and breath as you move through your ordinary days together. That ancient olive tree in the center of your backyard. How it’s gnarly texture imprints your back when he presses you against it under the burning midday sun.

Notice the well-rehearsed dance of your bodies as you both navigate your cramped kitchen while preparing your meal. Pay close attention to the woven texture of the faded blue dishcloth as it swishes through the water while you clean up from your last together dinner. Your fingers briefly touch when you hand him the wet plate. It has happened thousands of times before. It will never happen again.

Walk through your life and touch gently all these things that formed the framework of your love. Note them in your heart with invisible ink. Bless them with grateful prayer. Take stock and catalog. Write litany and list. Make a sacred offering to the gods of infinitesimal details. These are the pieces of a life that will never be again.

They are mostly tiny things. Background things. They go unnoticed on normal days. They will not be enough to keep you here. Even the love – as tender and true and deep as it is – will not be enough to keep you here. But as tiny and background and unnoticed as they may be – they are the stuff on which a life was built.

And someday you will miss them. They will twist unbidden through your mind, the once concrete made intangible and mysterious with the intermingling of memory and time. This missing may come on waves of sweet nostalgia or with the deep undertow of regret or with the desperate longing for a reversal that will not come. It may be from the solidity of knowing what was best and with gratitude for the release to bliss that it brought. It may simply arrive with the bittersweet awareness of inevitability. But you will miss them; these things that rarely warranted your attention when this was the life your soul called home.

You will miss them because this was not a false love. Because the details of this life were real, and they formed a piece of your story – the one that delivered you to the place you are now. Because in forming a piece of your story they have – inescapably and eternally – become a piece of you. Because the details of what was deserve reverence, even if they do not sing your siren song right now.

Listen now, love. Even if it is difficult to hear. Even if you think I may be wrong. Listen when I tell you that someday this house will not be yours. This life will not be yours. And even within the brilliance of all that you will have and hold and know in your new life, you will still hold an ache for it, somewhere in your unfathomable depths.

You will one day be asked to ring the doorbell of your former life and wait to be granted entrance. You will ask the person who has taken your place where to find silverware for your daughter’s birthday cake. When she hands you the flatware you carefully selected for your wedding registry,  your heart will open – rough slice through tender center – right there in the familiar-unfamiliar space where love once lived. Yes, you will be immersed in the beauty of your current reality. Still, this will steal breath from lungs as you remember all that has been done and broken and ended in the name of your leaving.

heartbreak quote by jeanette leblancThis is where reality lives. In the epicenter of the paradox. Right at the meeting point of love and loss and life and leaving and beginnings and grief and joy. In the sweet, sticky spill of that rough slice and in the invisible moments when heart is stitched together again. Right in the center of that tiny cramped kitchen. Where the faded blue of the dishcloth and the gnarled bark of the olive tree and the illumination of daybreak remain the same, even though all else has changed.

I tell you this now not so you will dwell on pain yet to come. I know you are in the swell of seismic shifts. I know how you long for steady ground. And it will come, love, it will come.

I tell you this to give you a window to peek through. To a time when you have left the holding-on space far behind.  To urge you to honor the totality of your current life before rushing headlong into another. To allow yourself the fullness of your grief and your leaving and your missing so that you can one day embrace the fullness of your joy.

So in that one day time, when you are standing in that cramped kitchen where you once danced through a life that is no longer yours, you will remember the silent reverence you offered to your no longer life. And you can smile and know that the missing and the ache are as true as the love once was.

And that all of it is good. So very, very good.

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