Our Toastmasters meeting theme the day I write this post is Letting Go and the Language of Letting Go. There’s multiple meanings to that phrase "letting go", whether it’s allowing children to grow up and live their own lives, someone in our circle of friends who has moved away who seems to have broken ties, or a loved one who has died and for whom we must say goodbye.
I once read a poem comparing children to kites. The kite flyer, the parent, lets out a little string at a time, such as the day a child goes to school for the first time. The kite, being the child, may fail to rise, get caught in a tree, or rip and tear in the process. A child learns what worked or didn’t work and, with guidance from a loving parent, is willing to try again, until the day when the kite rises and flies freely, that is, a child leaves home.
As each child leaves, the home feels a little emptier, and parents hope that they have taught the necessary skills. I remember having to refocus when our last child was about to leave home. I wrote a poem entitled, Letting Go (pub. 2007, Tower Poetry).
with tear-filled eyes that mirror my own
that I neglect my preparation
for the day of release
when the kite flies free
the mist clears and I see again
the young woman before me
be brave my heart!
you will fly as you were meant to
free and strong
and by letting go
I will have all that matters:
There are exceptions to that rule, such as the child who needs support for a longer time, maybe indefinitely. I also think of a young woman who lives in a group home for intellectually challenged adults. She works at tasks in the community that are appropriate to her challenges. She has been involved in Special Olympics, with her parents’ blessing and support, even before leaving home. She has won many medals in those events and is about to go off to Nationals to compete in a winter sport. Hard as it was to let her go, her parents allowed her to move on. She shines.
On the second aspect, I think of a friend who moved away and after a short interval of communication, even a trip to visit her there, has made no attempt to stay in touch. I admit that this one has been hard, one that I’m still not over. She was one who encouraged me to write, brought me the first brochure for God Uses Ink conference that I attended in 2001.
Thirdly, letting go of a loved one who has died, but not forgetting. I miss those who have been dear to me and who have invested in my life: an aunt, special uncle, a friend, a neighbour, or a grandmother. I have not lost a child, a different heart-wrenching grief that I have witnessed among friends and family. We hurt deep on our losses, like flesh cut from flesh. We feel the comforting arms of friends, the kindness of friends and neighbours. We’ve let the person go, because that life would no longer be a healthy life. We commend that person to God and try to go on. In time, we begin to live again, exchange memories and even to laugh again.
It will be interesting to hear the responses to this theme. I, for one, have learned who my real friends are, the ones who are there to comfort me when I need it most, who understands how it feels to have a child leave the nest, or someone has moved away and dropped connections, or my grief when I have lost one I loved.
What does “letting go” mean for you today?
Author of Once Upon a Sandbox.
Storyteller at Steckle Heritage Homestead Farm, 811 Bleams Road, Kitchener,
Book signing, March 10 at Waterloo Chapters store, Waterloo ON, 1-3pm