My daughter was an L.I.T. (Leader in Training) at the local day camp as a middle schooler. As near as I could tell this meant that she did all the work, amused the children, slathered on their sunscreen, dried their tears, while the actual counselors –high school and college kids—sat around talking to each other. She didn’t really seem to mind.
One session there was a rather high strung and sensitive child named Naomi. She fit squarely in the camper category titled High Maintenance. On a rainy day it is tricky to keep everyone amused and on one particular day the counselors decided fuse beads were just the ticket. These tiny multi-colored, plastic beads are carefully arranged into a design and then ironed in order to fuse them together and create a portable three-dimensional piece of art. It does not always go well.
Naomi had spent considerable time and effort arranging her beads. They had been duly ironed by a counselor but somewhere during transport the creation was dropped and shattered into just short of a million pieces. Naomi melted down like a fuse bead. She sobbed, she wailed, she was inconsolable. Her fellow camper, a sweet bespectacled 6 year-old named Annabel patted Naomi ever so gently on the back and said,
“I’m Sorry for Your Loss”.
Yes, whether fuse bead creations or beloved pets or parents or spouses or children—our losses are real to us, irreplaceable and heart-breaking and just having that acknowledged by a fellow earth journeyer may be enough to get us through.
It doesn’t really matter the magnitude. My own recent loss of the love of my life, a man I had known for only 4 years and had married just 16 months before his death was devastating. But was it any greater to me than Naomi’s beads to her, than Hemingway’s loss of his entire body of work, left behind on a train by his first wife, long before laptops and Word programs? Than a friend’s loss of every single cherished heirloom Christmas ornament in a basement flood? Than my mother’s loss of words and sweet memories at the end of a long life? Some are things, some are people, some are experiences—all are dear to us.
So this humble blog offering will take an occasional look at loss, how we respond to it, how it shapes and changes us, what we learn, how we go on. Maybe someone will read it and be helped. Maybe the person writing it will find a safe place to put a lot of ping ponging feelings and make some space for new life—for life after loss. I hope so.