One of the sad tragedies of growing up is growing apart.
Worse perhaps is that the growing happens in small increments, spreading like tiny spider cracks that crawl outward, outward, and outward until they reach the edges and fracture the friendship irreparably. There are moments that happen that crack that relationship more deeply, and some that patch areas but for some relationships there is nothing to do but hold close to your memories and wave goodbye as your ships sail in different directions.
There comes a point where you close your eyes and think of your past and all there is is a graveyard of people you once held dear, gone but not gone, their fingerprints still on you and your shared memories still smoldering. Not everyone has to die to be gone. And yes, it’s morbid to focus on the tragedy and not the adventure, to see not the warmth of the memories but the cold of the absence. It’s morbid, yes, but it is no less true than it is to focus solely on the good things, as if they are not really gone but on a life sabbatical and will return some day. Some people don’t come back. Some people are just gone. And that’s just how it is.
This is neither good, nor bad, it just is.
In growing up we are built on loose soil that hardens over time under a thousand suns. We are forged under the hammers of family, and friends, and society, and lovers, and employers, and more, more, more, and the best we can often hope for is to remain malleable enough to keep growing, changing, and evolving over time. As we change so too do those around us change and we all change in different ways, at different rates, and it’s luck and force of will that we are able to stay in one another’s lives for many years. To do that though takes work, more work than most of us are willing to put in, more work than we’re able to see. We don’t see the reward of growing with someone, changing with them, of experiencing the world with people that know us as much as we ever allow ourselves to be know. Instead we see the moments that lead forward and back. We see anger. Lust. Hate. Disagreement. We see the temporary tremors that shake all of us and sometimes shake us apart. We want people to be there as we refuse to be there for them.
Sometimes my heart feels like a graveyard and it hurts to walk among those rows. It hurts to relive the good, the bad, and the ugly. It hurts to know that these spirits still surround me and influence me. In saying that though there is comfort there. Comfort among the names and faces and moments that these people shared with you. The late night laughter. The secrets given and taken. The kisses. The hugs. The handshakes. The inside jokes. All of it part of our tapestry. Graveyards are places for mourning, yes, but they are also places of celebration as well, places where we can remember that we were not, we ARE not on this journey alone. People will come, people will go, but we were never alone. There are places we must tread by ourselves, that is true, but there were always people there for us, family, friends, and lovers. They may be gone but they don’t need to be forgotten.
But sometimes we let go too easily. We let the pettier parts of ourselves lead us and cut free of anyone that opposes us or upsets us. We rage like children against the things we don’t want to hear, see, and know. We don’t need them. We don’t need any of them.
And sometimes we can find our ways back to one another. Some rare instances allow us to realize how much we mean to one another and that we don’t have to cut one another out forever, just for now.
But sometimes leaving is the only way to move forward. Sometimes we have no choice. Life pushes, pulls, and drags us away and that’s just how it is. Some wounds won’t heal. Can’t heal. Are meant to live as scars so we remember who we were and why we are no longer that person anymore. And it doesn’t have to be hateful, or angry, just that we have to walk our paths or we will lose ourselves and in the end no one is worth more than we are because we are all we have. It isn’t a statement of ego so much as fact – if we are gone then anything and everything we can do, could do, did do is gone. We have to keep ourselves safe and free of harm first. We cannot truly save other people. We can offer them our hand, can offer them our shoulder, and can offer them our hearts but their life is theirs alone to lead and it isn’t for us to tell them how to lead it. As painful as that can be.
Eventually we will all be left behind. We are all going to be walked away from. Run away from. It isn’t something we have to like. It isn’t something we have to think is fair. It is something we have to come to terms with though. The longer we linger in our personal graveyards the less time there is to smell the flowers that are all around us, feel the warmth of the sunshine, and appreciate the perfection of a darkened room. It’s good to visit the graveyard, to raise a glass to those we have lost, to those that have walked away or who we walked away from, but to lay on that cold ground and try to sleep among those graves brings us only closer to death, not closer to them. The past can be a comforting refuge but there is no life there. Only death. The sun does not shine there, only the moon. And we cannot move forward if we are moving in reverse. Perhaps the wheel will bring us back to one another, perhaps it won’t. All you can do is live your life, walk your path, and wish those that you loved and lost, those that you cared about the very best. Whether they hurt you or not, whether they hate you or not, they were a part of your life, a part of your heart, and will forever be a part of your past. Nothing will change that. Better to come to terms with it and honor it than to regret and hate it and keep looking over your shoulder.
You deserve better than that.
And so do they.
We all deserve the next step, the next hug, the next laugh, the next kiss, and the next heartbreak. We all deserve the next adventure life has to offer and we all deserve to keep moving forward, wherever that path leads us.