Love and Loss in the Mountains

I went for a wonderful walk today. It was especially wonderful as it was the first ‘proper’ walk in the countryside that I’ve been able to manage for several weeks (if not a couple of months). The sun was shining and there was an abundance of different shades of green. We’ve had so much rain this year and it’s now the time of year where fresh growth can be found everywhere.

fresh green everywhere

It felt great that I could use my body again. It may have only been a couple of kilometres that I walked, incredibly slowly, stopping to take lots of pictures, but my body felt light and relatively strong, I could make it up the slopes knowing that I wasn’t having to push myself.

I felt such joy in all that I could see, I’m so lucky to live in a place with such amazing views, but I’ve also learned to look closely and appreciate the little things: the extraordinary beauty in the ordinary that I used to take for granted when my physicality offered me the rewards of faster changes in scenery and the physical accomplishment of achieving much greater distances.

from joy to grief in a blink of an eye

Then the views opened out and I could see the high mountains. There was a little patch of deep green that was cultivated that I’d never seen cultivated before and I was drawn to work out just exactly where it was in relationship to all the routes I had walked. And of all of a sudden, I sped from the full and complete joy of appreciation to the depths of an intense sense of loss.

The high mountains were like an intimate lover to me when I was well, I knew them better that the majority of locals and visitors, and always felt a great curiosity to know the few parts that I had not explored. I used to spend a lot of time alone in them and it was at those times I felt most deeply, my connection with the oneness of nature and the universe; a kind of intense connection with love itself.

Looking up at the mountains which at one time I knew so well and loved so deeply, I felt the deep pain of being kept apart from a lover who I knew was still willing to love me, by the bars of a prison created by the illness. Part of me wanted to shake myself away from that pain. I create my happiness by choosing to focus on the joy that it still available to me and I wanted to push myself to refocus.

But a more stubborn part of me wanted my pain to be heard. I am not just the joy of the present moment, I am an accumulation of all my past moments too. The whole me includes the loss of things that I adored, and it just doesn’t feel right to flee from those feelings, when they naturally surge up inside of me. It almost feels like diminishing the love that was involved.

So today I wear my heart on my sleeve and I share that moment of grief. I shall not be ashamed of those intense feelings because they are only possible because of the love that I had for what I lost. Loss is not exclusive to those of us who experience chronic illness, everyone who ever loved is going to experience loss at some time in their life, they come as a package. I guess we just have to face it more often. But the positive side to that is that we get more practice in dealing with it.

I’ve learned that when I allow my feelings to be exactly as the are they flow and change. Acknowledging that loss is an understandable reaction to the recognition of a now out of reach past lover and allowing those feeling to be felt in their full intensity, not only acknowledged my wholeness, but it also allowed the feelings to pass to a point where once again I was able to focus on the little moments of joy involved in the beauty around me.

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3 thoughts on “Love and Loss in the Mountains”

  1. This touched me so deeply, Julie. It brought up so many feelings of loss for me as well, as my greatest love has always been hiking in the woods and mountains. You expressed these feelings very beautifully. Thank you.

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