I’m realizing that there are stages to losing people.
These stages don’t happen in any defined order, but there are some key ones. There’s the stage where it hurts constantly, nonstop, like you’re hemorrhaging, or something, and it’s all you think about to the point where anything from a banana peel to a bottle of nail polish remover can remind you of them. There’s also the stage where you’re mad, and going on tangents to imaginary versions of said person in your head so you can say all the things that you can’t say now. There’s the stage when you’re not thinking about them, and then you are thinking about them, and then you’re not again. It’s all a bunch of freaking stages, until you’re finally – magically – better.
Once upon a time I read something scientificky about the human brain. I’m probably (definitely) gonna butcher the details, but it conceptually went like this: the human brain is wired to have a hard time losing people, because – when it comes to evolution – we’re safer and better off in a group than we are alone. Likewise, the human brain is wired to eventually make itself better after losing people, because – when it comes to evolution – we can’t be pathetic blobs in our 50s over the kindergarten crush who didn’t like us back.
I kind of imagine it as if the human brain is like a brownie pan. And the shit that happens in our lives is like the brownie batter. And when you lose someone, it’s like spooning out a glob of that batter (to eat raw, if you’re me), and then the process of getting better is the way the batter starts to spread and fill in the pan with what batter there is left. The batter always, always spreads and fills the pan again with what it has left. But, while that happens, you’re gonna see a gap.
THIS WAS A VERY MAJOR REALIZATION FOR ME WHEN IT COMES TO THE STAGES OF LOSING PEOPLE. That there are gonna be Gaps. Until everything is all spread out again, there might be more than one Gap.
Today, I had a Gap.
I’d won this huge, amazing, prestigious, big-deal award at work and there was a legit day-worth of activities scheduled to celebrate it. People flew in from foreign countries. Our CEO and President were there. They spoke and told the award winners how dope we are. I got two free meals and a standing ovation and there was even a yacht party. But I was having this weird, annoying, in-the-way Gap moment, because the someone I would have invited as my guest isn’t my someone anymore.
It was SO NOT OK to not be feeling myself in that moment. It was SO NOT OK to be all mopey while the CEO was canceling all her meetings to take pics with us. But just as much as it WASN’T ok, it also was – because this was me running into a Gap, a hole that someone who’s gone would have previously filled, and we have to be good enough to ourselves to forgive ourselves in those moments. We have to be good enough to ourselves to say to ourselves, It’s ok you don’t feel super whole right now. Just give the batter a little more time.
My batter is spreading out, but it’s gonna take a little more time. And, in the meantime, something very perspective-setting happened today. Other people came to the ceremony. For me. Friends who certainly, absolutely, did not have to. Colleagues who went out of their way to tell me how proud they were. My boss. I got a bunch of texts from people watching on the webex. And all of a sudden, in this moment of realizing that I was experiencing my first real Gap, I also looked around and realized I had so, so many Gap People.
It really, really mattered.
So, tonight, I have a call-to-action for you:
There is undoubtedly someone in your life who is experiencing a Gap. Because someone moved. Or someone passed. Or a relationship changed, or ended. Be their Gap Person. Love them always but love them more right now. Text an extra time when maybe you wouldn’t have. Accept the invites you might not normally. Cheer extra loud. And no, you won’t need to be a little more to them than you usually are forever, but do it while their brain-batter levels out. Be their Gap Person. It matters so much more than you think.
And thank you so much to all of my Gap People, and you know who you are, because my friends are not modest. I love you, and know you’ll always have a Gap Person in me, too.