"We don't fall in love; we fall in hope."
"The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely."
"We don't die from our feelings, but if we don't accept them, they will kill us."
Don Mihaloew, 1938-2016
This Thanksgiving I gave thanks for the food on the table, the house that shelters me, for the breath that keeps me alive.
And, most of all, I gave thanks for the people in my life--those who live, those who have died. My family close and far. People who care for me, and those who don't. They all have given me -- and will continue to give me -- so much.
One of those people was a man whose mind was spectacular; the wisdom and learning that flowed from him knocked me over the first time I had a class with him. His knowledge was never-ending -- human behavior, psychology, Jungian systems, couples, love, communication...I could go on and on. Not to mention history and baseball and languages and--this is what he was famous for--bad puns. Oh, and playing the French horn - badly. This was truly a smart and funny man.
Yet, in the end, when he was dying, what filled the room was his heart. His boundless, soft, loving, open, generous, caring, tender heart. His gift was the ability to listen carefully and extract the feeling from all the details. And he would do this while being so "there" with you, intently present and thoughtful. I still remember him sitting down next to me, stunned with grief a week after my father died, touching my hand and saying, "You have had such a great loss." Such simple words from such a big heart; I needed nothing more--no more words of sympathy, no offers of help, no fixing. That helped me realize that what grieving people need is just that--our presence, our caring, our silence. Don Mihaloew helped me see that what matters, underneath everything else, is the love we have to give, and the love that's there for us to receive.
There are a lot of people who really miss Don--friends, colleagues, former students, his children and grandchildren, and his wife, Betty. They feel his "not there" after years of feeling him being so here. And, I believe all of us are also so thankful that we got to have him in our lives-- to grow into better people because of him, to learn more about love from him, and to laugh at his appalling puns. ("To be so old, yet so Jung at heart" and "if it's not one thing, it's a mother.").
This Thanksgiving Day, who are you thankful for?
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