Solitude and the Grace of Friends

Feeling connected, even in solitude

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

I spent much of this past holiday season alone, intentionally. A time to reflect, to go inside, to simply be and to be in gratitude.

To feel gratitude for my life. Especially since having had a couple of recent reminders of how fragile life can be, how quickly it can all change the blink of an eye. These reminders are gifts. Gifts that help us to appreciate each precious moment that we still have, never knowing how many may be left.

A tree almost falling on my house, missing it by inches, because of two smaller trees catching and bearing the weight of the fallen tree and saving my roof, my house, maybe even me. I thank those trees every day. And I will do my best to save them and hope that they survive the damage that was done, the torn and split limbs. The trunks that still stand. 

Some medical tests are being run on me for possible asbestos exposure issues. Two of the tests done thus far came back negative. All ok so far. No guarantees, but so far so good. One breath at a time, I remind myself. 

Random other incidents and issues coming up in life, as they do. Dodging bullets until the one with my name comes for me.

 I am still here, still alive. Still here to write about it and tell the story.

And in this, my solitude, my quiet space of being, I realize that I am not really alone.

I visit the mausoleum where I remember the lives and gifts of my mother and father. I feel the spirits of all those there around me. I sit quietly with them, acknowledging their lives. Acknowledging the brevity of it all. Acknowledging what they may and may not have done, regrets, sadnesses, memories. Lives lived. Some stories told. Some not told because time ran out.

I go home and continue my quiet reverie. 

I hear from friends. 

A dear friend calls that I have not spoken to in decades. We have mailed cards or notes, or more recently a few texts, but not spoken to each other. Her voice sounds exactly as I remember it. It brings a smile. That memory was stored within me, the sound of her voice. 

I get another phone call from a friend that I used to work with. We may not have frequent contact, but when we do have contact, the depth and authenticity is there. It amazes me. And love is spoken with appreciation of each other still being in the world and having been part of each others’ lives.

 My neighbors, stop by for a few moments. We have all recently grown even closer together due to that fallen tree. We rallied around each other, supported each other, and became more of a family. 

 I get more holiday texts from other friends that I may not hear from often, but when I do hear from them, the connection is as kind and loving as ever. We remember our past connection, each other’s presence on this earth. We remember that our lives touched, making us forever connected. 

I get a phone call from an ex lover. The romantic relationship may be over, but the friendship continues. How lovely to be able to continue that thread and connection. The love may change forms, but remains there still. 

I am filled with so many emotions these days. So many feelings. Bitter and sweet, each important for their own value, message and lesson. The holidays can bring those up even more intensely. 

I feel very alone at times. I believe that there are certain things that we each must ultimately face alone. 

And yet, even in this aloneness, we are connected. We have touched each others’ lives and souls and somehow become part of each other. And especially during the holidays, I am grateful for this created family. This family is part of the thread of the story of my life. They are in me, in my memories, as I am in them. 

Connection doesn’t always need to be physical presence. It is felt deep within us. Even with those that have already left this earth.

That is my hope, as I continue on this journey of aging, that I have touched some lives and became part of those lives and spirits and stories. That I have been seen and heard. As I saw and heard them. That I mattered to some, made a difference in some lives, even if briefly. That my life was a spark, a light. A gift for others, as they have been to me. 

And so I sit here in sacred solitude combined with the grace of love, friendship and connection. 

And that is the best holiday gift of all. 

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