This had a very strong effect on me.
When one of my closest friends transitioned out of this life several years ago the experience became one of the most important soul lessons of my life.
The hospital room was overflowing with women, each with a significant and sacred place in my friend’s story. There was a lifetime of heart connections present, witnessing and holding the space for her exit.
As the sun was setting on the day, a man entered the room. There was a collective pulling of breath because everyone present understood the significance of this moment.
He was “the” man—the one who had resided prominently within my friend’s heart—for too many years to try to count, for as long as I had known her. There had been a time when he was the one she had mindlessly reached for, she had known that their souls were meant to be on this planet together, evolving and expanding and becoming.
They were soul mates. But he had not been able to fully show up.
He tried in his ways, but he simply could not or would not step in to the work that a soul mate connection offers to two Beings. He was never ready to be completely in. He had wanted her to be there, heart-connected and available, as an option for that future day when he would be ready, though the future never arrived.
She went forward with her own life, and he with his. There were sometimes years with little to no contact, and times when they easefully reconnected again as old, true friends. I don’t believe that she was waiting on him in a romantic sense—she closed the door of their romance long ago, though I do believe that there was always a wish within her soul that he would someday decide he was finally ready for this soul work.
As he entered the hospital room he was moving at a fast pace, the momentum it took to propel him into this moment. My heart ached as he hit the brick wall of reality taking in the scene. The sight of her literally hurled his body backwards several steps, and stopped him cold.
But then he knew what to do. With laser precision he walked over to her bedside and placed the tips of his fingers ever so gently upon her forehead.
He stood; eyes closed with her, for several moments. Then he turned away walking over to the window to look out at the gorgeous setting sun. Everyone in the room turned their gaze to follow him, and as we were admiring the beautiful sunset she took her last breath.
The women began to cry and mourn and gather around her, but the man just stood there watching, as still as a stone.
He had accomplished what he came there to accomplish, which was to show up for her. The women started to comfort him, saying, “She waited for you. Thank you for coming. It means so much”
He didn’t respond to these acknowledgements of his place of importance in her life, he just gazed upon the ceremonial farewell now underway. The women bathed my friend in lavender and sang songs rejoicing her. Someone handed him a towel, to help dry her body off. He held the towel but did not move from his place.
It all felt so representative of their experience together, I could see how locked down he was and it broke my heart. A wave of compassion flooded over me and a deep sorrow for the beautiful soul work left undone, unchosen. I could see on his face that he knew. He told himself for all these years that she would always be there, for the day he became ready—and now she was gone.
He believed they were soul mates, he referred to her as such; the connection was undeniable. Anyone who had ever spent time with the two of them together could feel the truth of this, regardless of circumstances or storylines.
When I left the hospital late that evening I immediately dialed the number of my own long left behind soul mate. It had happened that we spoke briefly that morning, so he knew my friend was in her last moments of life. He knew I was calling to tell him that she was gone. He knew I needed his comfort. But he didn’t take the call.
He said no to me. Again. Still.
Even in my disappointment I recognized that he had done the right thing, as brutal as it seemed. He was in a relationship with another, and we share the past not the present. He was no longer “my person” nor I, his. It had been wrong for me to make that call.
I sat in my car weeping uncontrollably for a long time—for the loss of my beautiful friend, for the shocked pain and regret I saw on the face of her soul mate knowing the door of opportunity had now closed for this lifetime, and for my own disappointed heart with its similar story.
I don’t take my soul mate’s no personally. It is not some defective aspect of me that he has turned away from. I know this. I accept his right to choose the work his soul shows up for in this life and his own pace of readiness.
But there is an unresolvable heartache, a disappointment that does not become diluted with time or distance. My own work has become navigating these difficult emotions with an ever open and compassionate heart.
I remind myself that this whole lifetime is but a cosmic blip on the map and there is so much more we cannot see from this physical body’s vantage point.
The end is never the end.
I believe that my friend was wise in not trying to push this man completely out of her heart. She did not allow her life to stall and become stagnant waiting, but she did not sever the connection and banish him as punishment for his no. She accepted this and moved forward, still embracing and acknowledging the small piece of her that would always be awaiting his arrival.
“I want to do things ‘the right way’ and make everybody happy, but when I do, I usually fail. I’ve generally just done better when I tried to ignore how I think something ‘ought’ to be done and just listened to the bizarre little worm that lives in the apple of my heart. Be still and listen to the worm.” – Kate McKinnon
The struggle is real
He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How