“Goodbye always makes my throat hurt.” – Charlie Brown

We sure can make up a lot of stories when we aren’t together, especially if we spent a long time together before we had to part ways. I guess it’s just human nature to try to make things make sense that we don’t understand. We fill in the gaps with “what this must mean” and then we suffer, and we make each other suffer over things that were never true to begin with.

Sometimes people who love each other have to part ways, and hope with everything in them that they will get to meet up again somewhere down the road. But still we make up stories about the “separating part” until we can’t even remember the “together part.” We stop remembering that love transcends time and space and even parting.

It’s often like that when relationships go through the transitions that happen as a result of life’s turmoils. We seem to be wired to go on a hunting expedition whenever something hurts, to look for who is the one doing the hurting. When sometimes, it’s just LIFE that did the hurting, not a choice that someone made to hurt someone else. It’s the fallout of a bunch of people on their own path, trying to stay next to each other as much as they can — while life has all sorts of twists, turns and holes on up ahead that we can’t always see. Sometimes in order to stay on the path that’s meant for your life, you have to go a different direction than the person next to you, who also has to stay on their own path. When you’ve been lucky enough to have your paths next to each other for a really long time, that’s when it’s hardest, that’s when we start to make up painful stories about “what it must mean.”

I don’t know why we do it. Maybe it makes us feel better to have something solved, to accept a circumstance that we never would have chosen for ourselves. We would always choose to be with the ones we love, every single day if we could! Our hearts and our brains fight over trying to make it make sense, and I get that. But goodness gracious we can make up stories that hurt.

I love the quote by Dr. Seuss that says “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

And…the one by A.A. Milne from Winnie-the-Pooh,
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

And goodbye is the hardest word there is to say. If you and I have ever been together in person for any length of time, you know that I do not say “the G word.”

I hate goodbyes. When I started writing this chapter, I sat here for longer than I’d like to admit trying to figure out why I hate goodbyes so so much. I dislike them so much, in fact, that I have been known to slip out the door before something is over just so that I can avoid saying goodbye.

So I made up a phrase 10 or so years ago that has sort of become a traditional farewell for the people in my life. We just say . . . “see you at lunch!”

That way, we can pretend that it’s only going to be a few more hours til we are together again, and we can high five, or fist bump or even share a little hug. But definitely not the kind of hug that means goodbye. I guess it goes back to Road #2 where I talked about how much I don’t want beautiful things to come to an end.

We left Idaho without a farewell party or any kind of gathering, aside from the black bag bonanza. The friends and neighbors who so mercifully came to help us pack, or to take some of our old stuff off our hands were pretty much the only ones we said “see ya at lunch” to. We hoped to be able to see everyone we loved before we left, but it just didn’t happen. The last few weeks before we left were tense and difficult. Marq’s health was declining fast and the #1 focus was to just get out of there.

So there were lots of loose ends that never got tied up. There were lots of messy endings that left lots of questions. And I started to make up stories about what that must mean, that some of the people we loved most didn’t even come over and say goodbye. When in all honesty, they may not have even known we were leaving. I made it mean that we were not important to them, that we were not loved. That we did not belong. When meanwhile, they were wondering why we would ever leave without saying goodbye. We all suffered. We all made up stories that weren’t true.

What really happened is just the thing that happens. It’s the thing we are hardly ever ready to have happen. Our Soul Roads curved in the opposite direction. Sometimes we have to go away to heal, or to grieve, or to lick our wounds and forgive, or to process, or to learn something critical. Sometimes we have to go away to become someone entirely new! We don’t really ever know where that curve is going to take us, but it’s always somewhere that we need to be for some reason.

I remember the first time I watched Charlotte’s Web and she sat and nurtured her baby eggs for so long and then one day they all hatched and almost immediately, they left. I cried when I watched that scene and it still makes me cry just to think about it. Why can’t we all just be together all the time?

Why do we have to part ways?

Just a few months ago, this painful part of life finally started to make sense to me. I’d spent the better part the month helping my soul sister and medicine-woman Kami, to build a new labyrinth on her property. Her old one had been dismantled by the horses and so I had the honor of helping her move the rocks to the other side of the ranch. I always thought her labyrinth was so beautiful, but I did not understand the most paramount meaning of it until this new one was done and I got to walk it with her. And, I wish that experience for everyone alive, to walk the labyrinth with medicine-woman Kami.

If you don’t know what a labyrinth is . . . it’s a special path contained in a circle. Some people think it is a maze, but it’s not. You don’t have to try to find your way out. You just have to take one step at a time. One foot in front of the other.

Labyrinth of Chartres with wrong ways and exit

From the labyrinthsociety.org :

“What is a Labyrinth? A labyrinth is a meandering path, often unicursal, with a singular path leading to a center. Labyrinths are an ancient archetype dating back 4,000 years or more, used symbolically, as a walking meditation, choreographed dance, or site of rituals and ceremony, among other things.”

Kami utilizes her labyrinth as a powerful healing tool. She shares it with whomever might have the great honor of being on her ranch. I’ve also seen her in the labyrinth all by herself. She walks her talk and partakes of her own medicine.

The first time I walked this labyrinth was with Marq, West, Kami and 3 wonderful humans from California who came to the ranch for a week of horse and human training with West. When their week with West was over, we all walked the labyrinth together. There’s a really special and meaningful way that Kami does her labyrinth meditation where you let things go on the way in, and you call things into your life on the way out, so as we started, I was ALL IN.

We started walking the labyrinth one person at a time, and as you can see in this photo (I would love it if you stopped for a moment and traced your finger around the labyrinth path til you get to the middle so you can understand this process) anyway, as you can see from this photo, it does a jiggly spiral where you end up in almost the same place lots of times before you get to your final destination in the middle. It’s kind of tricky because you get SO CLOSE to the middle and then you get pulled back outward to loop around again . . . and again.

Something else that happens is that very often, when there are several people in the labyrinth together, you find yourself walking right beside each other. The first time this happened, I was walking right next to one of the women from California who I had grown to love and adore over those days together. We were walking right next to each other on the labyrinth and it felt so good. Both of us on our own paths, but next to each other. Then suddenly, our roads turned and we were walking opposite directions. And before I knew it, we were on opposite sides of the labyrinth.

Labyrinth of Chartres with wrong ways and exit

This hit me with such emotional force that I started to cry. I didn’t want her to be across the labyrinth from me. I wanted to keep walking next to her. I cried as I kept walking and by the time I got to the middle of the labyrinth, I was sobbing. Then I looked up, and there she was, standing next to me in the middle. There we all were, in the middle of the labyrinth, having walked the same path that took us close to each other and then far away from each other. And then back together. And then I understood.

I believe we are all trying to get to the same place. I really do. I think there are so many things in life that we just aren’t going to understand until we get to that place.

On The Road Where We Part Ways, we have some big choices to make. If there was a lot of love, it’s probably always going to hurt. Heck, even if there was a lot of like it’s going to hurt! We ache for connection and belonging and family and togetherness, it’s how we were made. So when we get those delicious spans of time where we rest in each other’s presence and absorb the salve of connection and togetherness into our parched souls, it’s really really really hard when it’s over.

The choice we have to make is what we will do with the pain. There isn’t always someone to blame for the pain we feel. Sometimes pain is just a by-product of the loss we all experience as we transition to the next Soul Road we are supposed to take. It’s grief more than anything.

I think we, as a human family would do well to examine our need to find fault for the pain we feel. We hunt and hunt for the one or the ones who did something to us, the ones who left us, when the truth is that they probably didn’t want it to end either.

And, we miss out on the crystal clarity of the love that will always remain. We cover it up with stories until it’s muddied and colorless. And before long, it’s a very unnecessary and unneeded fracture between us.

Because the truth is, there will almost always come a time when we are able to meet each other again on that winding path we are each on. Like the labyrinth, it’s all the same route! It just tricks us into thinking it’s a different one. We get to cross paths lots of times. It might last minutes, it might last years, but what happens when that collision takes place will be largely determined by how we handle the last time our paths parted ways.

I really thought at this time in my life, I would be somewhere very different from where I am right now. It takes a lot of emotional discipline to keep reminding myself that where I am is where I need to be right now. AND, where others are is exactly where they need to be right now. It doesn’t mean anything about each of us, about our relationship or about the love we got to share for a while. It just means that life holds a lot of surprises and all of them will end up bringing us back together with the ones we love most if we don’t submit to stories of division and false narratives. We can love each other AND be headed in the opposite direction.

Sometimes our paths just have to part ways for a while.

Let’s love each other. Let’s be good to each other. Let’s wish each other well. Let’s each stay on our own path and support others in staying on theirs. And for heaven’s sake, let’s dance when we get to be together and not waste a moment of time putting guilt trips on each other.

So, dear lifewalker,
What stories have you told yourself about the time you had to part ways with someone before you were ready?
How do you want it to be when you’re beside each other once again?

I love you.
See ya at lunch,
melody ross