Holding On and Letting Go

I’m sitting in my friends’ shady patio, listening to a silence broken only by the birds and the light fall breeze. I’ve been in California for a month now, and like every time I’m down here in what was once my home, I dread leaving. Despite living in and loving Vancouver, the Bay Area wil always be a lifeline and a refuge for me. I can’t – no, I won’t let go.

It’s not unusual for people to hold on. How many times have we clung to family and friends at the airport or train station, cried at going-away parties and grieved at memorial services? We hold on to dreams, we hold on to hope. But sometimes, we hold on too long. We reach a point when we have to admit that it’s time to finally let go. I learned that with my late husband Dave as he suffered through a long battle with heart failure and finally died. And I’ve just gone through another painful process this wek.

For too long I’ve been storing many of my most treasured possessions from my time living and working in Silicon Valley. I’ve been paying too much keeping my previous life within the concrete walls of unit 3103, hoping against hope that some new job would come along, that at my age I’d still have the chance to obtain a work visa in the US, that everything would be the same again. But of course, nothing will ever be the same again. So I’m finally, painfully, letting go.

Two junk trucks have been and gone. Dear friends have taken some lovely and useful things. I’ll be shipping some treasured books, bells and old photos back to Vancouver. And there’s nothing left but an empty storage unit that will soon be filled again with the remnants of someone else’s life.

It’s been hard. Only Dave’s illness and death, and my mother’s declining health have been harder to bear. I’ve shed many tears sifting through box after box. So many reminders of so much… But it’s done, and it is not only necessary, but it will eventually be liberating once the ache in my heart goes away. I will soon cherish my memories without forever clinging to a life that won’t happen again. And I’ll also be strong enough to free myself to look forward and make new choices, follow new paths, and embrace new adventures. Lucky me:-)

But I’ll still cry every time I say goodbye.

What are you holding on to?

unit 3103

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Leaving My Lane

Watching Olympic track and field events probably did it. Suddenly, I found myself telling my good friend Lorraine about something that happened when I was around eight or nine – something I hadn’t thought about for a long time.

Because of my severe visual impairment, I wasn’t allowed in sports. It was assumed that too much contact could detach my already delicate retina and leave me totally blind. So, for the most part, I watched.

But then I discovered that I liked to run, and to my surprise, I was good at it. When it came time to participate in a small local track event, I was excited. And then, I was told that I wouldn’t be running. Despite the fact that I had been in races before, and had done very well, it was decided that I couldn’t compete because I “might not see the lines and stray out of my lane”. I was devastated, and watched as the girl they replaced me with finished dead last in the race I had been so ready for. I never ran again. And the experience stayed with me for many years. I was all too aware of my boundaries.

But now, at 58, I am learning to embrace the joy of veering out of my lane. My life experiences, both good and bad, have helped. And my photography has really set me free.

My creaky knees won’t let me run anymore. But watch me fly:-)