Loss. The idea came to me in hazy form one afternoon, but I had no time to jot down notes, to ease into the topic and now it’s five a.m. and while my body needs time to boot up, so too is my brain sluggish at this time of day. I’m becoming accustomed to early mornings; I’ve been rising early all week and attempting to make the change both mentally and physically. It’s the time I have, so I will use it well. And that is the idea of this blog: that what has been lost, will be found, though often regained in some other form. We are here to talk about roses.
For every loss I’ve experienced in my life there has been something I have gained from the experience. I can’t say this is true for everyone, but for me, this has been the case. The key to accepting my losses and moving forward to find the good has been perspective – finding the roses. There is no doubt gaining perspective has cost me dearly.
There are the losses I’ve experienced lately:
The loss of time; I’ve learned to appreciate the time I do have and be more flexible.
The loss of routine; we have had to reconstruct our new normal and in the process are able to appreciate the relative ease of life before when casually picking up a few items from the grocery store was no big deal.
The loss of peace; we are working on nurturing each member of our family and ourselves. On addressing each of our needs.
The loss of space; this one is a hard one for me. I’m still working this one out.
In the past, I’ve dealt with the loss of a loved one. While loss isn’t easy, and even when we do gain something from that loss, that does not mean to say the pain is diminished. Since losing my maternal grandmother, I have found new ways to connect with her after she is gone. Through cross-stitching – an art she taught me – and thinking of her, to sensing her spirit in the rabbit outside my window. Though she is gone, and while her loss is real and felt, our relationship has not been broken, it has been transformed.
Loss is relative. While it is true, we will all lose our lives eventually, we have today to gain in the meantime. Focus on what you can do today.
I once thought I had lost the child I was expecting. I experienced a loss of normalcy and I was devastated. Down syndrome was not what I had planned. But over time I was able to see I had more to gain than I had ever lost. The power of that perceived loss transformed me in ways unimaginable, has pushed me to travel and see the world, to be more accepting of those around me and to become an advocate for those of differing abilities; to be a writer and become the person I was meant to be. I can’t say I saw all that coming when I was pregnant though. I can’t say I saw any of it coming. I can’t promise you that your losses will bring you great things. But hold it in your heart that it is possible that what you perceive as a loss today, may one day be your greatest blessing.
I’m thinking about loss after finishing listening to Still: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Motherhood by Emma Hansen. In Still, Emma Hansen relives for us the painful experience of losing her son Reid who is stillborn at 40 weeks. A body, a life, so fully formed, to never experience the light of day or the feel of the breeze on his skin. There is no reconciling this loss, but Emma does survive it. She goes on to have another baby, after much difficulty, and then at two days old this second baby turns blue and is rushed to hospital. If you want to know what happens keep reading, if not, and you think you’d like to read the book, skip to the * below. Because of losing Reid the way she did (he was born with a true knot in his umbilical cord) Emma and her husband had felt helpless and they were determined to be prepared for this next baby. They had taken an infant CPR course and once home from the hospital after giving birth, Emma had been watching her baby like a hawk. She acknowledges that the experience of losing her first child enabled her to act quickly and save the life of her second. The beauty of Everett’s big brother Reid looking out for him from above and beyond is not lost on me here.
*Oh, hello. We’re back together. Loss seems irreparable, and likely the pain will dwell with you for a long time, perhaps forever. There is no promise that the pain will recede, just that there will be more to come; there will be an after. There is no replacing the pain, just as there is no replacing the loss of a loved one, but over time, and perhaps with a shift of perspective, there will be beauty once more; there will be new hope and transformation.
Ariel and I finished reading The Secret Garden together last night. As two forgotten children learn to care for a forbidden garden, they form a connection, with one another and nature, that nurtures their souls. The act of being in nature heals their broken spirits and slowly their surly dispositions turn golden as the sun they play under, and as fair as the flowers they tend to.
There is a line that stuck with me, that reminded me of loss and perspective.
“Two things cannot be in one place. “Where you tend a rose, my lad, A thistle cannot grow.””
Where you tend a rose, a thistle cannot grow. We must, deliberately then, sprout and give rise to those thoughts which bloom into delicate ornaments. Those are the flowers we must tend to. Pull out the weeds, and in times of difficulty, look for the rose buds to appear. Someone or something may come along and cut the head off those roses – that’s life – and eventually, we know the last petal will fall and we will lay to rest alongside our roses, but while we are here, why not put everything we have into minding and making our gardens bloom?
As I stare out my window right now, I see buds on the trees. Because I got up so early, I saw the sun rise into the cloudless blue sky I’m now witnessing, and into the promise of a new day. And I smile, having tended to my roses, and feel grateful.