Holding Up or Hanging On?

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, as a toddler holding up her younger sister, Laurie Botie.“Hold up yaw sistuh,” my mother said years ago as she posed us for a photograph. But my sister didn’t need my support, even then. Most of my life I’ve hung onto her because I depended on and needed her, and didn’t want her to fly off without me.

This past weekend we got together to celebrate her birthday, at my mother’s place. Shortly after we arrived, the conversation turned to last week’s blog post where I’d Photoshopped an age progression on a picture of my daughter who died.
“Why do you feel the need to do that?” my mother asked.

I am not going to share who said what about letting go, hanging on, moving on, and so forth, in the skirmish that followed. It got me wondering about the differences.

Holding up is to keep something from getting away or falling, to keep in high regard, to endure. You’re holding up quite well under the circumstances, I like to hear, as opposed to why do you have to keep hanging on? Hanging on is to hold tightly, to grasp, perhaps in desperation. Hanging on is waiting, persisting with some effort despite difficulties or setbacks. It is clutching at something and letting it lead you who-knows-where, maybe even allowing it to drag you backwards or under.
“I am not hanging on,” I insisted, and then announced, “I’m gonna hold Marika forever.”

Are you hanging on to someone or something for dear life? Or are you holding up your dearest memories of a most precious one in order to honor her and recycle your love for her into something more. Can you carry the one you love, and thought you lost, into your future even when others are telling you to get over the loss?

I’m not saying whose resolve was not budging and who was close to tears defending her position.
“I loved your latest post and the age progression photo you did,” my sister said. I shut up and smiled gratefully. She had my back and was holding me up this time.

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9 thoughts on “Holding Up or Hanging On?

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    Robin, this is a great distinction and thank you for articulating it so well. When we grieve for someone we never want to forget, we’re often accused of hanging on as though that is a bad thing. If we lived in Japan or many other places, it would be a bad thing to stop remembering the dead. I like the way you experiment with grief and aren’t afraid to show your experiments. I want to remember Vic and hold him up. I write about him a lot and now I’m sharing more of his writing because a friend has made Vic a new website. I’m gathering clips and articles to post in remembrance of him and to honor his work. Keep holding Marika up, Robin.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thank you SO VERY Much, Elaine. Confirmation, affirmation, all of that I am feeling because of your note. Doesn’t it warm you right up to see Vic’s work out there being refreshed with a new site? I imagine it’s like watching him still growing and glowing. Suddenly there’s a place you can point to and say, “There he continues.” Cheers to Vic and to Marika. To all our loved ones we thought we lost. And to you, Elaine, a big hug. You always seem to know what’s in my heart.

  2. Ruth

    Ah, to hang on or to hold . . . I’d say it depends on the day! But mostly I hold on. I will never let her go, my beautiful Tori, she’s here whenever I look for her & I see / feel her often. ❤️💔 two sides always

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Hi Ruth. Welcome to my online home. And thank you so much for responding. I’m with you – let’s hold onto our beautiful daughters forever. We can stretch ourselves and our worlds by listening to them and loving the gifts they left us. We can create new chapters of our lives still holding and honoring them. Cheers!

  3. M

    Robin, I was awed by how much I thought the photo-aged Marika looked like you. I thought that it might be nice for you to know that the reflection you see of yourself may well resemble Marika–as she’d appear older. Who is to say when one should hold-on, hang-on, let-go, be present, project toward the future, hold fast to the past . . . ? Aren’t we fundamentally commissioned to find our most authentic selves? Our thoughts, actions, livelihoods, speech, thinking . . . etc. work best when they reflect our own organic (unadulterated) motivations–no pests or pesticides . . . loving family members, well intentioned friends, et all. Notwithstanding, families and friends love us in ways they think best, and for sure, it’s love–no matter. Stay well

  4. Wendy

    I totally get this one… So glad u have a sister & mother a part of your entourage.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Hi Wendy. So good to hear from you again. Yes, having a mother and a sister, two sisters actually, makes for happy times as well as times that are frustrating, painful, challenging, and mind-boggling. Whoever you have in YOUR entourage, I guess you get that. Thanks for checking in on my site. Hugs!


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