Saying goodbye with grace.

For the record I have to state that I hate endings. I’m a creature of habit, I like things to remain the same. I’m the woman that will ride a toxic relationship until the wheels fall off (work in progress). Often times I’ve known from the door when a friend, lover or business partner wasn’t right for me. I see the red flags and proudly stomp into mayhem. By no means is this one of those “Ni$$*s ain’t shit” or “Woe as me” rants. I felt the need to share a bit of my past so that you would understand me.

A couple of year’s back while spiraling in and out of toxic empty relationships a mentor of mine pulled me aside. She told me that I was a sucker for unrequited love. Up until that moment I had never heard of the term. I looked it up and read each word slowly in disbelief.

Unrequited Love :
The feeling of being completely, hopelessly, desperately in love with someone, all the while knowing that your feelings will never reach them. If you have unrequited love for someone, you have romantic feelings for them, but they do not feel the same about you.

Damn! The truth has a way of knocking you off your feet. The next couple of days were filled with rewinds and fast forwards of every intimate relationship that I had ever been in. I sat at my round table of one and debated, noted and pointed out the facts. NO way was this me. Or was it?

This question haunted and awakened me. My mentor was right. I beat a dead horse for years and it was time for me to do something about it. But how? Toxic or not this way of life was all I knew.

I took a break from everything and re-evaluated my definition of love. I started asking myself things like, “How do I want to be loved? What is love? Can I trust myself enough to let go when things are no longer beneficial for me? Why am I choosing toxic relationships?”

How does a person who hates change learn to let go with grace? Little did I know how a conversation that I held with my Uncle almost two decades prior would give me all the answers I would ever need.

My Uncle Anthony, God bless his soul was the closest thing to a Father that I had. He was openly gay and he was my world. He was the first man that was consistent. He honored his word and always kept his promises. My best memories are of him were him toting me up on his broad shoulders carrying me to museums, concerts, toy stores and of course to my favorite place…the library. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that he loved me. He told me that I was smart, I was beautiful and that my life would have purpose. What does a kid really know about purpose? 🙂 I didn’t see what he saw until much later in life. I started noticing early on as I ran with my Grandmother in and out of hospitals that something was wrong with him. In the beginning I was told that he had a broke leg, a cold, the flu. I watched as his circle of large boisterous friends dwindled from double digits until finally, five, four and then three. I watched the worry lines in my Mothers forehead and listened to the muffled sobs behind the closed bathroom door when my Grandmother thought I was asleep.

I decided to ask him the ominous question that was drumming in my head, I wanted to know if he was dying. At this point I was almost sixteen years old. He was no longer the energetic, athletic person that once traveled all over the world. At 36 he was a shell of the man that I remembered. Bedridden for the most part he now needed the assistance of walking braces to move around. I asked him two hard questions back to back.

“Are you dying?”
“How do I go on without you?”

His responses were blunt and forthright.

“Yes, I am dying. But honestly we all are. Nobody is promised tomorrow so make the most of what you have right now.”

His the answer to the second question was so simple yet profound I’m still in awe of how he answered it so matter-of-factly.

“Hope no one in your life will ever be a constant. You’re YOUR only consistent constant in life, so get use to YOU! Find out who you are and stand firmly. People are going to come and go. Life will hurt, it will disappoint but you will learn from it. Love is everlasting but there are times where you will be forced to let go. Trust yourself enough to know when.”

At the time I didn’t understand the meaning behind his word’s but I never forgot them. How ironic was it that now I in my late 30’s grasped the power behind them.

“Find out who you are and stand firmly.”
“You’re YOUR only consistent constant in life.”

Three year’s later I watched him starve to death. He died of AIDS related complications. His death was one of the saddest/happiest days of my life. I ached for him because my love for him ran so deep but I rejoiced in knowing that he was no longer suffering. He had finally found his peace, he was no longer in any pain. It’s funny how all of those memories came tumbling up when I began to question my own purpose.

A couple of days ago a good friend of mine lost his Mother to cancer. I cried silently on the phone while he told me the details. I cried for him because I knew that he was in a place of pain and also of peace. Grief is wide ocean wave of emotions. One minute your okay the next your curled in a ball with hurt and sorrow. That person you loved is no more. Before he hung up the phone with me he told me that he wanted me to share something with my readers.

“We hold on to the people we love for selfish reason but true love is selfless. Love is about the need of others. I’m glad that I was able to give my mother the peace to transition. She needed to hear that it was okay to let go and move on. She needed me to be the stronger one. I loved her enough to give her what she needed from me…peace.”

Love yourself enough to know when it’s time to leave a relationship that is no longer beneficial.
Be selfless in the love you have for others. Give them the greatest honor of release.

~In honor of Anthony McGill~

About The Author

Hope McGill grew up in New York City’s famed neighborhood of Harlem. She began writing at the age of sixteen, but her love of literature began as a child. Reading has always been a means of escape for her. Curling up with a good book helped her to explore the world and meet fascinating people. As she grew older, her appetite for reading grew immensely and the books became more diverse. She began to read books such as, J. California Cooper’s, Life Is Short but Wide, Treasure E Blue’s, Harlem Girl Lost, Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild, as well as the classic, Manchild In The Promised Land by Claude Brown.