We lose some people along the way. Sometimes we lose them because we take our eyes off the ball for an instant and when we look back the person is gone, having slipped off in a different direction than ours. Other times, we lose people because it hurts too much to hold on to them, and so, reluctantly, we must release our grip and watch them float away.
Once lost, these people are rarely found again, and for the rest of our lives there will be a scabbed wound in our hearts, reminding us of them, the people we once knew and now no longer do. Squandered opportunities, we might sigh, thinking that perennial “what if?”.
All of us have such bitter-sweet losses: the best friend in kindergarten, the boy you kissed while dancing to “Stairway to Heaven” (and wasn’t it wonderful, just how loooong that song was?) the girl (what was her name again?) that lent you that beautiful blue silk dress when you were going to that dance back in 1985. And then there was X, the man you were meant for, who tore your heart into shreds, who begged for you to forgive – and you did, once, twice, thrice – before deciding to cut your losses and throw him out, even if it resulted in weeks sitting on your kitchen floor crying your eyes out.
At times it’s all quite random; in a rooftop bar in Paris you bump into a man, eyes meet, there’s a shadow of a smile and with a slight bow he moves over to his table, his group. A couple of seconds of connecting with this absolute stranger, and nothing more comes from it. But it could have been different; that little smile could have become words, a shared bottle of champagne at the bar, and two hours later you would have felt as if you’d known Henri for ever.
Sometimes the timing is off. That boy with the huge crush on you when you were sixteen would have made an ideal partner had you met him when you were twenty-two. Your best friend with whom you quarreled so bitterly over that stupid incident on the soccer field might have forgiven you had you both been a bit older, but as it was you were twelve and the days of cold silence that followed on that fateful match grew into a ten metre high wall of impenetrable ice.
Fortunately, just as we lose people we find them. I found one particular little gem ten years ago, a fantastic friendship that grew out of something as inane as realising we both preferred tea to coffee. My husband was a case of love at first sight – from my side, at least – during a university event. (It took me a couple of months to make him understand his own good and sort of open his eyes to just how well matched we were.)
We never know for how long we are allowed to keep the people that matter to us. Circumstances may tear us apart, stupid misunderstandings balloon into irreconcilable differences, geographic distance can be quite the death knell in some cases. And all of us will at some point experience the pain of losing someone dear to death.
We lose some, we find some. And some of the people we lose we will miss until our dying breath, but being a resilient species we square our shoulders and carry on, finding joy in the new friends we make. Over time, even the painful losses acquire something of a golden sheen to them. At a distance of several years we are capable of remembering the good times rather than the bad ones, with advancing years and wisdom (well, in theory at least) you come to understand that X never meant to hurt you, not really. And you can laugh a bit at yourself and stupid, stupid X, thereby finally healing that old wound you’ve been carrying around for years.
We lose some, we find some. That’s the way it is. But starting today, how about taking good care of the people you presently have? Tell them – at least once in a while – just how much they mean to you. Never, ever take them for granted (remember how much that hurts?) be there for them when they need it, and always treat them with respect.
We lose some we find some. But by extending an open hand to the people you meet on the way, you may find more than you lose!