By Sharka Waite
“Where the lips are silent the heart has a thousand tongues.” – Rumi
One word too many, one word that offends, one gift not well received, one letter too late, one hurtful action, one missed act of kindness, one missed opportunity to see life as is. Sometimes it takes only one of anything for an end to enter our lives. There is so much to explain and yet so little to say at times. When a relationship, friendship, mentorship, spirit-ship, partnership, suddenly dissolves into nothingness without much explanation we are often left alone with deep void. We drown in our sorrow, in the lake of questions without answers. The key for learning to swim to the safe shore is to acknowledge when it’s us and when it’s them. Sometimes we put too much blame on ourselves when perhaps the other should carry that blame. And sometimes we blame others for our misfortune when, in fact, we are the ones who messed up. It’s a fine line to be objective as a friendship or any sort of close relationship is mostly based on feelings, emotions, common interests that bind us, and the acts of our heart. Nevertheless, it’s still a loss, or at least an unwelcome change, that needs to be processed deeply and grieved appropriately.
When I attended a grammar school in the Czech Republic, in order to learn the Russian language in a more organic way, we were encouraged to correspond with students from the then Soviet Union. Each student was given a photograph of a foreign student of the same or similar age, with a name and address. We were encouraged to share our day to day experiences, send photographs or draw a picture, and connect. I loved this exercise. Not only did it improve my Russian language conversational skills, I also learned a lot about the Russian culture from the perspective of a child. My pen-pal’s name was Marina and I remember being mesmerized by her beautiful long wavy hair tied in braids most of the time, so typical for russian school girls. We shared our lives, we learned about our hobbies, our families, surrounding and the differences in the school system and government, home environment and variety of other common things. We used to send each other chocolates, bubble gums, pictures and occasional small gifts. At times, to our disappointment, we learned the harsh realities of the Russian censorship as some gifts never got delivered. But overall, our penmanship was a positive and educational experience. However, one day our correspondence ended. No explanation, no word, no warning. It was all over. I was waiting for my next letter for about two months until I realized there were no more letters coming. Needless to say I was crushed. The anticipation and excitement of receiving a letter every three weeks or so became an important part of my young life, and I had difficulty accepting its abrupt end without an explanation. I was questioning my last words; did I say something wrong? Did I miss to compliment her drawing? Did I send the wrong gift? Did I hurt her feelings? Only about a year later did I learn the sad fate of the many students in her region when it was bombed and many of its residents perished or were moved to a different community.
I’ve since lost a few dear friends for no apparent reason, although I’m sure there was some. Yet again I recently experienced coldness, distance, void, a loss of sorts, which I still struggle to define. At times the end of friendship is to our advantage when our kindness is taken for granted. Other times it’s for different reasons and lessons altogether. Often we don’t have the immediate capacity to understand and interpret everything that happens in our lives and perhaps that’s the mystery of it all, keeping us on our toes. As it is said, where one door closes, a window opens with the winds of change propelling us into the heights of discovery, wonder and awe. Some people come to our lives suddenly and then they depart just as fast, but their impact, the lessons, knowledge, compassion or learned understanding remain for a lifetime.
Instead of dwelling on the “why the loss”, after a period of grieving try to accept it, even embrace it, and feel fortunate for having had the opportunity to taste the sweetness of a friendship and its wisdom. No matter how long it lasted, for “Friendship is one soul in two bodies” according to Aristotle and, once planted, the infinite roots of its seed will forever grow in our hearts.
Peace & Joy