My father died suddenly when I was seventeen. Protective and adoring but totally unspoiling, he was my first great love. I have an image in my mind of sitting alone in the funeral car, waiting for everyone to come out of the little country church and drive to the town’s dusty cemetery whose small number of inhabitants are mostly a list of relatives. Sitting there motionless, I had such a bottomless emptiness inside me that crying seemed irrelevant. Some things are too sad for tears.
I recall my cousin kindly coming to find me and trying in vain to think of something comforting. Not knowing what to do, she said nothing but just stared at me through the car window. The funeral car had a fancy, new electric window which I couldn’t open and so we just looked at each other through the closed window. Her eyes betrayed what mine must have been radiating. After a while, she looked away. The grief eventually healed but not without sending me into an intensified search for life’s meaning. Death has a way of doing that.
There is a small group of people who are our special ones: our partners, children, and other loved ones. They are our dearest ones. Somehow, they belong to us and we to them. We didn’t really choose them but nor did we not choose them. Our beloved children did not just randomly come to us. Long before their material arrival, they were a part of us, as we have always been a part of them. Partners and other dearly loved ones, likewise, did not just randomly appear in our life as if, just as easily, we could have missed them or replaced them with some other random. No, they are the ones that were marked in our heart already. We recognize them as belonging to us. This belonging gives love a certain stability, permanence, and resilience.
People are naturally drawn together – those who belong to each other. It’s a very instinctive thing. Such important decisions as who to let into our life and in what way we will let that person in are best made from a deep knowing in our heart. Many relationships seem irrational to other people. Sometimes, the depth of a relationship and what the people will do to remain together may seem incomprehensible. If we understand there is a certain belonging to each other then it helps to go with the flow of life. Sometimes, people come together for a short time as that is the design of that relationship. Sometimes, it’s a lifetime. Sometimes, it’s much longer than one life on Earth.
Belonging is also the great precursor to possessiveness, demandingness, neediness, and general painfulness. Once we have our dear ones, we become so attached to them and so afraid that something will take them from us that we try to make ourselves more secure by making sure they cannot depart. Of course, it is ridiculous. Apart from the problems of human relationships, there are many other factors which impinge on our carefully thought-out plan of attack. Life, itself, will always hold the upper hand in that battle. And so, one learns to have a more flowing approach to the movement of life. Seeking but not demanding. Hoping but not insisting.
This article is from Love’s Longing