Remembrance Day was Wednesday, November 11. I felt compelled to compose a post, but I didn’t know which direction to go and found myself going in circles. And then a serendipitous series of events occurred that ignited my passion and fueled my muse.
I re-read my Letting Go blog from 2016 as part of an editing process for my new author website. I felt grateful as I read about my struggles and realized how far I’ve come. I still have so much to learn, but I’m walking the path.
When Mister got home from work, I asked him to proofread my first draft. By his body language it was clear, I wasn’t hitting the ball out of the park. Not even close. But he reminded me, I’m the captain of my own ship. How fortunate, that I can choose to revise my goals and deadlines, as I’m the one who created them in the first place. I relaxed into this knowing. There was no need to rush. I bundled up my anxious thoughts and set them aside to sleep on it.
In the morning, I woke up to a message from a friend who had to cancel our FaceTime due to a client crisis. That spurred a conversation between Mister and I about the challenge of balancing “I’m here for you” and “I’m here for me.” We recalled times when we’d reacted to crisis emotionally, dropping everything to help, support and advise, only to have it blow up in our face. We agreed, it is a fine balance that shifts and changes with time and each situation.
After Mister left for work, I opened Face Book for my daily five-minute morning scroll. There was a notification from Not Your Average Operator for their next episode on Loss and Remembrance. I read through the blurb and at the bottom was a quote from a reading by the Reverend Kenneth Semon at Mike’s grandmother’s funeral that blew me away.
“To let go does not mean to stop caring; it means I can’t do it for someone else. To let go is not to cut myself off; it is a realisation I can’t control another. To let go is not to enable, but to allow learning from natural consequences. To let go is not to fix, but to be supportive. To let go is not to be in the middle arranging the outcomes, but to allow others to affect their destinies. To let go is not to be protective, it’s to permit another to face reality. To let go is not to criticize and regulate anybody, but to try and become what I dream I can be. To let go is not to regret the past, but to grow and live for the future. To let go is to fear less and love more.”
-taken from NYAO
I set down my phone. I closed my eyes and let that sink in. My soul did a little jig. I was back in the flow and I knew what I wanted to say.
I haven’t served my country, nor do I have close family who did. I grew up in small Canadian prairie towns, privileged and oblivious to the ravages of war. I participated in school assemblies and wore poppies. My awareness of the sacrifices of war came from watching movies based on real life war horrors; idealized, romanticized or sensationalized by Hollywood.
Even though I don’t really get it, every Remembrance Day, I feel a crazy mixture of heavy emotion mixed with gratitude and appreciation for what men and women all over the world have given in the name of freedom. Their lives.
Last Saturday, a group of people on our compound here in Riyadh put together a memorial service to honour the fallen. Paul McFadden, whom I know well, was one of the speakers, and his wife, Cherie, sang an adapted version of Hallelujah. As I watched the video, sipping my hot coffee in the comfort of our villa, tears began to form. In a flash, all the scenes of violence, pain and combat that I’ve watched on film collided. Real-life images of soldiers maimed in battle flooded over me. When Paul spoke of sacrifice, I felt it. My heart constricted as I sat in silence, connected in awareness to what strangers sacrificed in the pursuit of peace and justice. And I cried.
I remembered a conversation I had with Paul earlier this year. He spoke of how sacrifice is the means by which we can transform suffering. It occurred to me that men and women transform the suffering of war through their willing sacrifice of their lives towards something bigger than any one person, towards a higher purpose, a calling to serve humanity.
I’m not a soldier. I’m a lover, an author, an emotional creature. I don’t know about war and I don’t understand that kind of sacrifice, but I’ve loved and lost and I know what it means to let go of my own dreams to serve others.
Today, I give thanks to the millions of people who have felt called to defend. I give thanks to the families left to mourn. I’m present to the sacrifices we all make, and to the love that gives us the strength to make them.
So yeah, I’m feeling love and loss as I remember the fallen and my own letting go journey.
-Musings is moving to my new author website, launching January 30, 2021-