Friday, September 19, 2008

Loss

If I could pick one word to sum up 2008 thus far, it would be loss. Loss surrounds me. Certainly we can all agree that the economy is suffering from it, but I am talking about personal loss here--the loss of life, and the loss of love.

I had dinner with my parents at a small cafe in town a few nights ago--they came to visit me in my tiny, riverside cottage, to make sure I was safe and happy here, that I had a sturdy lock on my door, and food in my cupboards and fridge--and we had a long conversation about how much lighter our family became in 2008. We lost three close family members this past year--my grandmother at 97, my Uncle Cy at 92, and my cousin, Scott, who passed away at the too-young age of 57--and everyone in my family is still feeling somewhat heavyhearted as a result.

But it is not just my family that has suddenly become lighter, for it seems that everywhere I turn, someone is telling me about their own loss. Twice this past month I have gone into the sauna at my gym, and both times--within five minutes--two separate women have told me that they had lost a child. One woman lost her son, who was 42, and the other, her daughter, who was 26. I wish I was--through words--able to convey to you, reader, how it feels to be naked in a tiny, 105 degree room, and have a complete stranger be completely open and vulnerable to you, to confide in you their sadness and their grief. I can't however, because there are no words that will adequately describe how touching, how intimate those five minute interactions were. But I can tell you that I will remember both of those moments for my remaining days.

My friend, Marlene, lost her brother this year. He died of the same, horrible disease that my cousin Scott did. And sadly, just as young. My sweet hairdresser lost her brother in a boating accident over the summer. He was only 26. And then, there was old Henry, who I wrote about this past Monday. My dear friends, Michele and Steve are in mourning right now, and rightfully so; lest you think you mourn less over an animal than a human, you are terribly wrong; Henry was a part of their family, and they lament his loss.

Around me, relationships end as well. Friends who were together, are now not. My own relationship has been redefined, and I am now living alone for the first time in many, many years. The loss of love is exquisitely painful.

I feel as though sadness is at every juncture, yet somehow I don't feel profoundly sad. Instead, I wake up each day, grateful for all the gifts I have been given. I don't question the greater plan for me, or those around me; there is no luxury of time in my life to wallow in self-pity, or to be consumed by grief. As human beings, we have the ability to choose between living each day to it's fullest, in a positive and healthy way, or remaining stagnant, becoming bitter.

I choose the former.

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