When you read the word LOSS it has so many connotations and meanings it is really hard to really wrap your head around. I hate that my first post of 2016 has to be about loss, but I have really been impacted by it in the past week.
Over the last four years, my entire world has changed so much with the addition of my son to both my and New Mom’s lives. But this post is about loss, not gain right? Yes. but watching my little guy has allowed me to observe the world through an infants/toddlers eyes.
As I noted in the opening of this post, loss has so many meanings when you just say the word. if you were to play word association games with a group, you will likely get a lot of different responses to ‘loss’. The other night new Mom brought the little guy home from nana’s house and after a while he was playing and stopped, looked at me, gasped audibly and said in a panic “I left my blankey at nana’s!” this was not true, we actually unpacked it and put it in his room, but he did not know this. the situation quickly turned to near hysterics with cries of ‘I lost my blankey’ from a panicked young guy. after some soothing and assuring that the blankey was indeed fine and in our home, I got to thinking about what loss means as a toddler or infant. This made me realize that loss is a lesson we never stop learning throughout our lives.
When you are an infant or toddler. Loss is generally exactly as I just described it. You realize that something is amiss or gone and have a panic attack about it (trust me, this will continue throughout our lives, just see me if I can’t find my phone!). The situation is usually quickly resolved through deflection or locating the missing object. And then often (but not always) forgotten as other distractions are presented. It really is our first lesson in loss.
As we get older, we get into school and loss starts to occur in other ways. Sometimes you lose a friend because they are going to another class and made other friends, or for whatever reason, they move away. This loss sticks with you longer. You are reminded of the loss over and over when your friend isn’t there to be able to play with you. As we advance in school we learn of love, having our first crush, first girlfriend/boyfriend and often those relationships run their course, resulting in lost loves, never an easy lesson. We love and lose again, but never forget our first real heartbreak.
Advance a few more years and you start to experience your first true loss with the passing of extended family members. Hopefully you had great experiences with grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, ect. I myself only had three surviving grandparents when I was born and was 35 when I lost my final one (Grandfather on my Dad’s side). This loss is profound, and has a much deeper impact. Time always wins and the lesson loss teaches you is that of mortality.
Then as time moves on, we start to lose friends, other loved ones. If you are fortunate, you will not be impacted by tragedy, and the losses will be from natural causes. Our understanding of loss is there, but sometimes accepting it can be harder. I lost my own father a couple years ago and I still struggle with the void that is left behind. That is a loss I still feel the most of all.
I noted experiencing loss in the past week. I lost a very dear friend after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. His name is Richard. I knew him through the Ohio State Alumni Club of Orange County. Both he and his wife Peg made me feel welcome here in California when I first got here and became involved with the club. I felt very close to them both. When I was informed that he had cancer, I was absolutely crushed, like being punched in the stomach. It was very hard. He had battled this very deadly cancer for well over a year and every time we saw him at an event was a blessing. We found out a short time ago that he took a bad turn after thanksgiving and was being admitted to hospice care. He passed away over the weekend. The loss I feel is very deep, as this was a very religious man who was a great friend, husband, father and grandfather. The type of man who sets the bar high for other men to aspire to.
The final type of loss I will talk about is the loss we experience when someone (not related to us) that we idolize or respect passes on. The day after Richard passed on, one my (and many others) musical icons, David Bowie passed away. This loss is very different. Its a strange feeling, when one of your idols passes on. When we lift these individual to a higher level. We hang on their every word, treat what they say or write as gospel. when we lose one of these heroes, we take it pretty hard. It feels like a part of that era of our life has left , even if our outlook has changed.
Loss will never stop teaching us lessons, and unfortunately I was in class this week.