Bleed, throw it out, move on.

Years ago, I took a road trip with a couple of friends. Two of us were going through bad breakups at the time, and the lone voice of reason in the car gave us some sound words which I still carry with me today:

Losing a relationship is like a plate breaking on the floor. It sucks, and there’s glass all around, and you get cut and you bleed but you pick up the pieces and move on. But a few weeks or even several months later, you’ll find a piece you missed. You may find it by moving a table or chair and there it is. You pick it up, deal with it, throw it out and move on. Or maybe you find it because you accidentally step on it. You bleed a bit (though not as much and not as long as you did with the big pieces in the beginning), but the bleeding subsides, you deal with it, throw it out and move on.


I read a book recently which included an idea that triggered something inside me. Though the exact line escapes me right now, it was something like we are orphaned over and over again.

I thought about this for a long time.

Merriam-Webster defines orphan as a child deprived by death of one or both parents, a young animal that has lost its mother, and closer to home for me, one deprived of some protection or advantage.

I am lucky to still have both my parents alive and kicking, but I imagine the loss of a parent to be significantly greater than the loss of another in one’s life, because this loss represents not just a person, but a resource, comfort and security. The loss of this person, or people, changes everything, forever. I am a 31-year-old woman who has only very recently accepted that her parents are mortal beings with their own lives, feelings, problems and dreams. To lose one or both of them now would be unimaginable.

But the loss of resource, comfort and security – a loss that would change a life, is not necessarily that of a parent. In my life, I have lost two best friends and a husband. Each of those losses affected me greatly, and after each of them, I knew things had been changed forever. To use the term “orphaned” to describe how I felt when these people were no longer in my life is not a stretch. They each touched me greatly, and though their hand prints remain on my heart, the cool breeze over the spot which their hands kept warm has been felt for a long time.