When I was a child, my grandmother too often called me "sangana", which is probably not a legitimate Spanish word, but in Puerto Rico, my native land, it means fool, dope, nitwit - at least that's my interpretation of it. Her esteem demolishing pet names usually were instigated by my extreme sensitivities. In contrast to grandmother's strong, confident personality, I was soft, thin skinned, and above all I was (am) very emotional. Separations were especially difficult. (I will refrain from self-analysis here, but needless to say, my childhood was marred by episodes of abandonment.) I have yet to outgrow my impulse to cry at the slightest provocation, but when a "good-bye" is called for there is no stopping the teary flood gates. Freud would consider my resistance to separations an ultimate fear of death. I concur. I suppose each farewell carries with it a sliver, a reminder of our finite state.
So, before I die and undergo the ultimate test, I must confront my fear of separation, which is founded upon my ego's insistence on maintaining attachments. For a long time, I deceived myself into thinking that I had already conquered the malady and things meant nothing to me. But I suspect that if my house burned down, and my bank account (puny as it is) dried up, and my car got stolen - I would indeed suffer the pain of separation. I would discover the depth of my attachment to things. (I hope God's not reading this. I don't want to implant the idea for one of those unbearable learning opportunities in life God is so fond of imposing on me.)
Though I recognise my need to work more to overcome my attachment to things, it is my attachment to people that I feel is more significantly blocking my spiritual progress.
My musings on this topic arose from reading a short magazine article as I waited in a doctor's office. The author, a brand new grandmother, wrote about her interactions with her son and daughter-in-law after the birth of their daughter. The grandmother attached to the baby immediately like cling wrap. She yearned to hold her, care for her, nurture and cuddle her. Being a new grandmother myself, the story enticed me and I related profoundly to the writer. She went on to expound her fears - that the parent couple were unhappy, that they resented her well intended interference, that maybe they needed to move away. As I read on my heart sank. Indeed, the little family moved away, leaving grandmother in grief. (Of course, I almost cried.) The woman found solace in friends and in her faith but I remained with the question - "Where/how will I find comfort if such a thing happens to me?"
Memories rushed into my mind - of parting from my young husband as he left for military duty, of leaving my daughter in a strange city alone so she could pursue her studies, of separating from friends when life pushed me to relocate across the country. I remembered how my heart ached, how sadness filled my moments. Yet, I know I will survive separations. I always have. From now on though, I hope I detach with grace, with peace, with wisdom.
My strength and comfort will come from the awareness that it is love that must overcome attachment. It is love that will transcend my own need for the company of my loved ones, in favor of their own well being. You know that sappy saying, "If you love something, let it go,"? Well, it's true, not easy but true and like it or not, we will all have to let go eventually - of our kids, our spouses, our friends and our things. (Not to sound morbid, but yes, we're all bound to die.) All in this world is temporary - except love.
I need to stop. I know better. If I wanted to, I could hop in the car now and see my little grandson, my daughter, her husband. I can pick up the phone and speak to them. How lucky I am. And since all in this world is temporary - so is this moment. I mustn't waste it on ruminations about future loses. Now all is well. Thank God for Now. May we all enjoy it.