Today I miss her. I miss her smile. I miss her sarcasm and how she would sit outside on Summer evenings and savor a glass of sweet wine. I miss her love of spicy food and trying new things and pushing the limits of her physical capabilities. I even miss her naivete. Sometimes I especially miss her naivete.
Of course, I’m referring to Stef BC (before cancer).
Buddhism teaches us that attachment is the root of suffering, and that’s absolutely true. If we aren’t attached to anything we don’t suffer. However, unless we’ve reached total enlightenment, we’re still going to experience the painful lessons in life. And I’m far from enlightened. I’m always working on becoming better, but far from perfect.
I guess we could also loosely compare it to The Phoenix, dying and being reborn. Does the phoenix ever mourn the old self? Probably not, or it wouldn’t be able to keep transforming. But maybe, on occasion, at least right in the beginning of it’s new life, it looks back at the ashes and mourns.
Transformation occurs when we can let go of the past. As the adage goes, you can’t drive forward while looking backward. And I think an important part of letting go of the past is allowing ourselves to mourn for a period of time, to get to a point where we can accept that it’s gone, and to find the courage to accept whatever is happening in the present.
I don’t think I’ve properly mourned Stef BC. Most of diagnosis and treatment was spent in disbelief and almost detached from reality. I knew what was happening, I felt it all, but it didn’t seem real. It still doesn’t seem real when I tell my story. It feels like I’ve completely removed myself as the main character, probably my brain’s attempt at protecting me from the trauma I endured. I effectively compartmentalized and dealt with everything without ever really stopping to feel the loss of my self. Well, except for that one time when I first got home from the hospital and punched the mirror. I skipped straight from point A to C and now missing out on B is coming back to haunt me.
If I want to keep growing and becoming a better version of myself, I need to let go of my attachment to the past. Memories are fantastic, and I want to be at a place where I can look at photos of Stef BC and not feel depressed, but rather proud of who she was and how she got me here.
So today (and however long it lasts) I allow myself to mourn. Today I allow myself to feel the negative and accept that it’s normal and healthy to do so. I allow myself to cry for Stef BC, to acknowledge that losing oneself is a valid loss, and to accept that I have to let her go. I’m going to thank her for her sacrifice in allowing Stef 2.0 to emerge. Today I’ll send her out on a beautiful raft and draw and fire the flaming arrow to light her pyre.
Tomorrow, I’ll rise.