What's Up With That? ~ Katy Byrne

Katy Byrne Katy Byrne, MFT is a Psychotherapist in Sonoma, editor and animal lover. Her private practice specializes in: life transitions, couples communication, eating issues, moving forward, conflict resolution and the kitchen sink.


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When you love somebody, it changes you

Posted on April 21, 2017 by Katy Byrne

Love is no small thing. When you’ve loved and lost anything that was alive you tell yourself to accept loss, to let go, to flow with life’s changing cycles. You get really busy and try to avoid the loss, but when you’re silent or walking in the spring air or stare at the recent ravens in the trees, you remember death or divorce or some other difficult transition.

Like a carved heart in a tree, lost love goes deep in you forever. It’s given my face more shadows and my eyes a deeper glare, like a tunnel that seems to go a long way before a small light at the end peers through.

As Mother’s day approaches I realize, though Mom passed away long ago, I still miss her. Sometimes, I’m embarrassed to admit, I had wished she would die – because I wasn’t good at taking care of her or dealing with her anger in the last years – but still there’s a hole in my soul where her wildness once was. I miss her humor and sarcastic political comments.

Memories of love stick in me, even though I tell myself that it’s best the way it is. We all die someday. But, still, I’m surprised that even with the sparkling sun on my rosebushes or an immense chorus singing on TV… nothing outshines or shovels enough dust over the memory of lost love. I just miss her.

What I would give to hear Mom complain again. I never imagined I would have that longing one day. Loss isn’t easy but acceptance emerges slowly. I would give anything for one more chance to listen to her long monologues about the great divide between the rich and the poor.

Mothers are like great art, they aren’t appreciated until they’re gone. I used to roll my eyes and begrudge her constant phone calls and complaints about the world. I didn’t know what I know now.

Love is a big deal, no matter how imperfectly it is expressed. In spite of love’s mistakes and disappointments, it was mom’s good intentions; the odd and quirky ways she expressed herself that I miss most. It’s was her genuine and uneven attempts to love us that I remember most.

How I adored getting her cute packages in the mail. My ears would perk up because she always sent me the perfect sweater. I sometimes still look at the porch longingly. But guilt and regret are also built into her passing. That’s just the way loss is – it’s a mixed bag.

And nowadays, I see her face in my own mirror. I hear her cranky tones in my own voice or hear her laugh in mine. I’m humbled as I see I have become her. It is as if she lives in me, leaving this legacy to carry on what she didn’t finish. It wasn’t planned. It’s just that her soul is inserted her into mine. I miss my mother’s fury at the world because now I see it is justified.

Still, in Judy Tatelbaum’s book, “You Don’t Have to Suffer,” she explains how her own mother, in her last words, asked her not to grieve too long after she was gone. And so Judy wrote this book for her mom. She writes, “We can discover if we are more committed to suffering than we are to recovering by looking at our behaviors… if we keep moving back into our pain, chances are we may be more committed than we realized to grieving.” Sorrow is important, otherwise we would be uncaring humans. But it is also true that life must move on.

So, love your mother. Or love the animals, your neighbors or even people who bug you. Care for the land and the earth — our world is at risk these days. And love the ones you’re with. Whatever you have lost, even weird and wonderful people, move along. Life needs us. There is much to do in this old world. Accept and let go as best you can and enjoy life — it is very short.

One thought on “When you love somebody, it changes you

  1. Colleen, I thought you would enjoy this column my friend Katy wrote. I just got my hair cut, shorter than usual, and I see my mother in the mirror!

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