Pretty much all that you need to know in order to know Maria Pappas is this: I am a possessive human being. I’ve realized this on countless occasions. I recently heard this: “everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks on it.” And although that is intense, I think it expresses me well. Once something is mine, I expect it to be mine indefinitely. This goes for a lot of things: friends, clothes (consider this a warning to my sisters), and food. Especially food.
On a serious note, I attended Fordham’s graduation again this year, and it was a supremely odd sensation to be there as an alumna. As I watched this year’s graduating seniors receiving their diplomas, I realized (again) that this place that I had considered mine was very officially not mine. As I watched some of my close friends walk across the stage, I knew that they would soon walk out of my life: to graduate school, to volunteer programs, to jobs. It was the same thing that happened last year happening all over again.
But I feel like this has been happening a lot lately, not only at graduation. It happens a lot in life. My friends make new friends, friends date and get married, my old relationships turn into new ones, and even people whose lives only touched mine for a brief moment in time, like my youth group kids, leave my care. I know it’s unjustifiable, but I can’t help but think, “hey, weren’t those things mine?”
And on the other hand, claiming that something is yours has a lot to do with being needed. Thinking that this person, or this thing, would not exist without me. Would not exist if I had not shaped it into everything that it is. For example, maybe I’ve helped a friend make a big decision in his or her life, maybe I’ve imparted knowledge in an ex-boyfriend about what he wants or does not want. The scary part is that once the thing is shaped by you, it can more easily move into other hands. It’s more prepared. So the only way to assure that someone or something will remain yours forever is to never give it your all, never help it grow and establish itself and fly the coup. Keep it in your clutches forever. Which just sounds so terrible, doesn’t it?
To an extent, some things were once mine. But not completely. I think that’s the part that my mind has trouble wrapping itself around. That’s because everyone and everything belongs to someone greater. You guessed it: God. And in His Providence, He allowed me to be a little part of their story. But they were shaped by things before me which allowed them to be mine for a short time, and they will continue to be shaped by things after me. So the question becomes for me: if those things can make them better, then why not let them go?
So I guess that nothing is ever truly yours. Even the things that are to come for me, God-willing: a husband, a house, children, though seemingly and ideally more permanent, will not be mine. They will be mine to nurture and love as much as I can before I slowly let them go.
God is the ultimate example of this. Because He loves us, He is willing to let us go, to make our own decisions, to choose our own paths. Accepting that those decisions and paths may or may not lead back to Him. He loves us without question and does not abandon us, but He never clutches like we can tend to do, even though we are His. And this is really the way we should strive to love, without possessiveness and without fear. To do so would be to love like God, which is a beautiful and amazing thing.
Maria is the Administrative Coordinator of Y2AM. She is a New York native who isn't completely sold on the city's charm, yet has never left. A proud graduate of Fordham University and occasional runner, she is happiest whenever chocolate, a sale, or a good Gilmore Girls reference is involved.