LOSS, SURRENDER, AND PURPOSE…LOOKING THROUGH THE MIRROR OF LIFE – by Brenda Shaw

I waited and waited.  Droughtlander.  So I watched Season 1 and Season 2 many times on STARZ.  And I re-read Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, and studied Voyager with the Outlander-Sassenach Sisterhood as a book club.  And 2016 expired and 2017 was born.  I tore off the calendar pages for each completed month.  And finally, with a pounding heart, Season 3 premiered!
 
Three episodes have now aired.  With each episode, I see loss, surrender, and purpose. I also see my life in the 8 big novels.  I was stunned.  Diana articulated (much better than my feeble attempt) that we bring our own life experience to the story.  And I see my experiences in the mirror of life.
 
Loss:   Jamie survives enormous loss – peaks and valleys- throughout his life from the time we first meet him.  Claire, pregnant with their child, goes through the stones to honor the promise she made to Jamie.  She is gone in an instant.  Jamie’s brother-in-law, Ian understands and reflects Jamie’s feelings, “She was your heart.”  There are some people for whom we will grieve for a lifetime.
 
The mirror reflects:  Twenty years ago, my husband went to work to check out a new job site.  He parked his truck and took two steps.  His heart stopped and he fell to the ground.  He was gone in an instant.  I will grieve for him for the rest of my life.
 
Jamie’s losses and notoriety reduced him to a shell of a man.  Once again Jamie was unprotected, seeking shelter for his soul under one blade of grass.  Purpose? Direction?  He was lost but with time and those he loved a new and reborn Jamie emerged.  One step at a time, surrender.  Jamie surrenders his guilt? regret? loss? fear?  He tells Fergus that he sees a reason to live.  He speaks Claire’s name–out loud–with a soft voice, the corners of his mouth curling up in a sweet smile, and eyes full of private memories.
 
When my husband died, my counselor told me, “Life won’t be the same, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be good.”  “Good,” I thought.  Good? I was wondering why I was still alive.  What was my reason, my purpose for living?  As book readers, we know Jamie finds an even greater purpose for his life.  He is like that piece of carbon we studied in school which, when rubbed, becomes a diamond.  Jamie was a caregiver and a leader with as many good qualities as there are letters in the alphabet…accountable, bright, conscientious, driven, energetic, faithful, generous, humane, ideologue, etc., etc.  Still, he was human, albeit fictional, and probably had some faults.   I admit, grudgingly, that I’m biased and can cite a “yes, but” to Jamie’s perceived flaws. 
My husband shared many of Jamie’s most loving and lovable qualities. Like Jamie, it took a lot to keep my heart beating, surrender, and find purpose when I lost him.  With the help of my daughter, professionals, my faith and time, I began to function again.  One of the most meaningful lessons given by my counselor was the sailboat story.  The counselor asked if I was a sailor.  I replied that I was not.
    He then asked me to consider what I would do if I was out on the lake in my sailboat and a violent storm blew through the area.
    Would I continue sailing–or–would I bring down the sails, drop the anchor, and go under the deck until the storm abated?
    Once the seas calmed, I might carefully peek out and if the world looked calm again, I might pull up the anchor, raise the sails, and continue on my journey or head back to shore.
    Moral of the story:  I was in a storm and every day of survival was a day of victory.
    He continued:  Be kind to yourself.  Rest when you’re tired.  Cry when you need to cry. Take one day at a time.  In the beginning, all you will feel is his absence.  But eventually, if you allow yourself, you will feel his presence.
   Eventually, I felt his presence and found my purpose.  I have children and grandchildren whom I adore.  I spent 10 years working with children, parents, and teachers in Cobb         County Schools.  I retired.  I found Outlander and the pleasure of seeing my life and love reflected in the life mirror of Jamie and Claire.  I’m being kind to myself and thanking
    Diana Gabaldon every day for sharing her gift.

3 thoughts on “LOSS, SURRENDER, AND PURPOSE…LOOKING THROUGH THE MIRROR OF LIFE – by Brenda Shaw

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