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Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Posted By on Wed, Sep 7, 2011 at 12:22 PM

A friend observed recently, “Your FB/Twitter postings are making me sad. Why so blue?”

For years without realizing it, I ran away from the late summer reminders of Loss, escaping with my husband on remote and lengthy drives into the West, avoiding the anniversaries of a hurricane and a terrorist attack.

This year, however, without time for our trek, I awake these mornings, unexpectedly permeated with Loss.

It is pure mindfulness, an all-consuming condition that overrides everything from hunger to work to anything that used to seem important. Loss sinks in slowly and deeply, eating one’s priorities and plans, until nothing exists but the infirmity.

Family, projects, and even television offer distraction. Maybe I’ll get a break, one hopes. In conversations, we pretend to listen, convincing ourselves that things are better, until moments later we’ve lost the exchange, smothered by Loss, as though it never happened.

We seek people who understand our particular Loss, who battled disease with a loved one, who talked about them in the present tense one minute and in the past the next, who witnessed fellow Americans terrified and suffering during a natural disaster or a terrorist attack, who thought the world was fine until a phone call brought Loss.

The Day We Told Tee Coon Good-bye; circa 1980

Unwittingly and unfairly we assess friends according to their Loss. We divide them into those who still have their mothers and those who don’t. We check our caller ID, deciding which type we can handle just now.

We attend therapy, speaking because we feel we should, yet getting nowhere, because we brought Loss, and the words are all wrong. We seek explanations to no avail, because nothing derails Loss.

“I find myself thinking about 9/11 all the time these days,” wrote a friend from New York. “It’s one of the very few days in my life that I remember damn near everything. It’s amazing what the mind chooses to recall.”

Wrought with unfairness, Loss is different from grief. It is an experience beyond emotion and thought. Grief lessens, but Loss remains. I thought I knew Loss when my grandmothers died, but I didn’t, not really. Loss is something that one knows is coming some day, but that one doesn’t expect this day.

“Upon that misty night
In secrecy, beyond such mortal sight
Without a guide or light
Than that which burned so deeply in my heart
That fire t'was led me on
And shone more bright than of the midday sun
To where he waited still
It was a place where no one else could come”*

Wendy Rodrigue (a.k.a. Dolores Pepper)

*From “The Dark Night of the Soul” by Loreena McKennitt

-For a related post, see “Mignon’s Flowers,” from Musings of an Artist’s Wife

-I planned a funny account of cooking gumbo — of a roux-making ritual — for this week’s post. But Loss drained its humor and affected my edge, leaving me, temporarily, as it’s wont to do, without options

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