Holding​ On & Letting Go

My daughter has been doing a project for school that involves asking everyone in the family what their favorite song is; she also asked about my mom’s favorite. Songs I haven’t listened to for a long time have been swirling about my brain for weeks now. Vividly I remember perpetually carefully choosing the plastic protected cardboard covers, removing the shiny black record from between the white paper envelope inside, placing the vinyl disks gingerly on the turntable, and delicately lifting and placing the needle down on just the right spot.  I suppose that is why I couldn’t get Perhaps Love out of my head.

Some say love is holding on

and some say letting go

Holding on and letting go – it’s so hard to do both. Whether whit-knuckled strain or giving “it”up – both holding on and letting go tax much more than our muscles.

I am having a bad week. I spent the first few days resting for a meeting I thought would take one to three hours max. I left at 8:30 am and didn’t get home until after 5:30pm – so I’ve spent the last few days crashing as a result. It was too much for my brain to handle. I have been dizzy and unbalanced, heaving in the driveway after any short ride, and struggling with my words. I’ve slept…and slept…and slept some more, but I am still utterly exhausted.

On the day that pushed me too far, I didn’t even recognize him when I first walked in. The lights were bright. I was anxious. I sat down across the table from him without even processing who he was. Then – he looked up. I saw those eyes and everything came flooding back. For the rest of the day, I avoided his eyes. It was hard enough to focus without looking at him too. As the day wore on, I had more and more difficulty actually saying what I wanted to say, remembering what I wanted to say, and just spitting it out. I had to run my hands against the walls to steady myself when I went to the bathroom, stand up or go downstairs. It was a long, grueling day.

The struggle was monumental. The amount of mental energy it took was draining. Three days later, I’m still walking around my house like a blind person, eyes mostly closed, touching the walls. I’m sleeping most of the day and struggling to converse. I stop typing every few sentences to remember where I am, reread what I wrote, close my eyes for a few minutes, and ground myself. Even with all the lights off, the shades drawn and my sunglasses on – it’s too bright.

But that isn’t the end of the story – it’s actually just a very long intro. The point of the story was holding on and letting go. The whole time I sat there answering questions about the day the man sitting across from me decided to drive home drunk and change my life forever, I wasn’t angry. Sure I cried. It’s sad. It’s been hard. I’ve lost so much – but, I wasn’t mad. Astonishingly to me, I wasn’t furious with the wide-eyed man-child sitting at the table. I had thought that if I ever saw him again, I would be “seething with rage and indignation,” as Mom would say. But, I wasn’t. He was the man convicted of an aggravated felony, and I was his victim, but I wasn’t mad.

Realizing that I wasn’t mad, was such a relief. It was one less thing to hold on to as I try desperately to hold on to the pieces of me that are left. Somewhere along the way, in trying to hold on to what remained of the brain I once had, my life as I knew it, my family, as they’ve struggled with the loss of the wife and mother they knew, I had let go of being angry at the person and the circumstances that had changed me.

As we were finishing up, his lawyer pulled him aside and apologized for having him there all day without getting to question him. The man-child assured him that it was ok and then whispered that he was sorry too, but for a whole different reason. I’m not sure I’d be too happy spending the day looking at and listening to the physical manifestation of the consequences of my own poor choices. He will be dealing with the repercussions of what he did for a long time. But I, without even meaning to, had forgiven this young man, and it is a blessing.

Perhaps love is holding on – to those I love; and, letting go – of all unforgiveness.

Jeremiah 17:24

    Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed;
    save me and I will be saved,
    for you are the one I praise.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord


  1. What a powerful gift in forgiveness. Your heart indeed blooms, Heather. Sending prayers to both you and the driver. Your writing is exquisite.

  2. […] My mother used to say – Just come by! You don’t have to call. Then I don’t have to worry about dusting! She meant it. She loved surprise visits from people. I confessed to my husband the other day that one of the hardest things about losing my mom was the loss of our conversations. We didn’t usually sit for hours and talk. But, we did talk while we folded, washed, dusted, tidied, cleaned, sorted, walked, or drove. The conversation was a constant, lovely distraction from mindless work. I was feeling a bit sad because I was missing my daughter away at school and thinking about the loss of our chats. It’s so hard to let go.  […]

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