When we generally hear the words, the circle of life, many of us think someone was born and someone died. That very often could be the case. Whether it be immediate, or when a baby is born on an anniversary of someone’s death, we generally say it is the circle of life. And it is. When my great-nephew was born on the anniversary of a favorite uncle’s death, we thought it was the circle of life, even though it was 7 years later. And I know I am looking at this little boy and at times expecting him to have some of my uncle in him. Who knows if he will, but we witnessed a circle of life moment.
Sometimes it is that life went full circle. Whether that be the obvious, such as moving back to the town you grew up in in order to care for aging parents or even just the caring for aging parents. It could be starting a career in one discipline, moving to others and then ending the career back in the original discipline. It could be having a friendship, losing that friendship for some years and then gaining it back. So whether it is a circle of life or full circle it could be about about something returning to where it began.
Recently there have been two experiences that high lighted the circle of life and life coming full circle for me, although only one is about a baby. My best friend’s mom passed away two weeks ago. A beautiful, happy, kind and generous woman who was stronger than most and always had a smile on her face. She taught the women of her family to be strong, that family was important and to always always be kind to others, no matter how you feel. She was the first person I knew who really walked the talk of both her faith and her mindset. No matter how bad things were for her, she would find a way to help someone else. The day after her death was the christening of her first great-grandchild. A beautiful baby girl who seems to always have a smile on her face and very chill. The service was beautiful, with a mention of her great grandmother, and she was a perfect, smiling angel as the Priest baptized her. The party was beautiful with family and friends all gathered together in love. Love of this baby, love of her parents and love of each other. The circle of life was apparent as you watched the descendants of this amazing woman gather together to support each other and share in their grief and their joy. So many people would have thought to cancel the party. However, it was in honor of the woman of passed; a woman who loved a good party, loved to dance and loved her family and that made it more than perfect. Her circle of life was apparent.
Not all circle’s of life though are about babies and death. They can also be about evolution of relationships, changes, and growth, and as I said, life coming full circle. None of that was more apparent than yesterday. I have been very blessed to continue to have a strong relationship with 2 young men who at one time were my step-sons. I met them when they were 7 and 9 and spent almost 6 years in total with them. We vacationed together, lived part time together and shared a lot of laughs together. For much of that 6 year time I also had a rocky relationship with their mom, tolerant at times, contentious at times. Much of that fueled by our common denominator, the husband. A year after I met the boys, we moved into the house I am in today. They spent holidays here, weekends here, vacations here. They each had a bedroom, outfitted with loft style beds, televisions and all the stuff they wanted. They became a part of my family, attending sweet 16 parties, family events and time together. After my divorce from their father, I wanted to keep some type of relationship with them. In order to do that, my relationship with their mom had to evolve and change.
I was lucky that the boys felt a tug toward me so that allowed both their mom and I to work toward a different relationship. We have come full circle, as we are friends if not, like family. I have been to 3 graduations, spent time with them as a family and spent time with just her. We get along very well, and it isn’t only due to a shared dislike and disheartenment for their dad. Although we share some of that, our relationship is really focused on similar ideals, love for the boys and a true caring for each other’s well being. We have allowed our love for her sons to help heal the relationship we had and create a beautiful new relationship.
This past week, she lost her mom. Needing to come to New Jersey as a family, with few options of places to stay together, they all came to my house. Yes, the same house the boys once frequented every other weekend and the same house they had not been to in years. Their mom had never been here. As I was showing them each where they would sleep and giving their mom a tour of the house, I watched the oldest curiously. He walked around looking in each room, eyeing pictures that are around and moving slowly from room to room. He finally said something that I found so insightful…”This is weird to be here with mom. I have memories here but they are separate from mom.” It was really a moment. And his mom handled it beautifully, just stating, “you know we have a great relationship now right?” He, of course, knew that, but it was obvious that there was a strangeness, almost a conflict in memories here from a childhood and creating new ones here now with his mom. We let it got at that point, but we knew, this was full circle. When the younger son showed up a few hours later, he also said it was weird. His comments were more about never thinking he would be back here. More full circle.
As I thought about all of this, I realized that the circle of life and life coming full circle are different, however the emotions have been the same. Sadness for what was and is no more and joy and gratitude for what is and what will be.