“The sorrow we feel when we lose a loved one is the price we pay to have had them in our lives.” ― Rob Liano
In the last few years, the losses have been piling up. No, I'm not referring to sports, gambling, or even a controversial election.
I'm speaking of people in my life. Meaningful ones. Many of whom had a tremendous impact on the man I am today.
My mother. My mentor. My uncle.
The older I get, the more I experience the death of family, friends, and acquaintances at a rapid pace.
At 51, it seems, this is the season of life.
I'd love to tell you I have gotten more comfortable with it all, but I haven't.
Perhaps, it's the thought of my own mortality. Maybe it's the fear of the unknown. Or, it could be the notion of aging, period.
But, what I actually feel is just an emptiness—a void.
I lost my mother in January 2017. She was tough as nails, having survived stage 4 throat cancer, only to have the treatment's residual effects cause her demise. My mother and I had a complicated relationship as I brought chaos to her order. Yet, whether she was my biggest supporter or my harshest critic, my mom was always present.
And now she isn't. Four years later, and there is still vacuity.
I met Mike K. after my second "tour of duty" in rehab for alcohol and drug addiction. Mike, who I lovingly referred to as Special K., took me under his wing and loved me when I couldn't love myself. He showed me a new way to live without putting a substance in my body to change how I feel. For more than 8-years, he was there for me and for many others.
And now he isn't.
Many fond memories from my childhood came from my Uncle Gary's place in Delaware. Having passed recently, he was a hard-working, family man who married his high school sweetheart. He had three great children and owned his house. Unknowingly, he was a role model for what it meant to be a man and a father to his nephew from a single-parent home. My Uncle Gary had a laugh that could light up a room, and I would go to any humorous length to bring it out of him.
And now I can't.
There are so many more I could write about, from Mommom, who is my daughter Eleanor's namesake, to 16-year old Ariana, to my mother-in-law Patricia, to friends who have passed too soon from addiction-related causes. But you get the point.
These special people have left an emptiness within me.
The American Psychological Association finds it "healthy for adults to experience a range of contradictory emotions, including anger, rage, sadness, numbness, anxiety, guilt, emptiness, regret, and remorse."
So it turns out the hollowness I feel in my heart is quite common. Moreover, many religious teachings even allude to it.
The Bible references gratifying our empty cup multiple times. There's the story of the widow filling the vessels to save her sons from slavery in the Torah. Even the Koran describes the deepest part of your heart as the "lubb (لب)" or tank.
As with many things in my life, the solution to this void is a Spiritual one. God, as I understand Him, loves to fill our empty vessels.
Some time ago, I was introduced to "The Golden Key" by Emmit Fox. This "Scientific Prayer," as he calls it, is a practice.
"Beginners often get startling results the first time, for all that is essential is to have an open mind and sufficient faith to try the experiment. Apart from that, you may hold any views on religion or none," wrote Fox.
If you have never read it, I encourage you to do so.
"Stop thinking about the difficulty, whatever it is, and think about God instead," Fox continues.
So simple, yet so complicated for a guy like me. The beauty of this is I can utilize it anywhere at any time.
I will always hold the memories of those I've lost close to my heart. And I will continue to practice using the Golden Key to ask my Creator to fill the hole they have left behind.