Tough people do.
“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.” – John Steinbeck
I do not think that I go so far as to tell a lie when I say that we have all experienced the sharp, bitter and seemingly interminable sense of loss. Sometimes, you are aware of its approach, like your shadow growing up towards you as the day turns to evening. Sometimes this weird and way too often overwhelming world tosses a knife at you. You are forced to react. Life doesn’t seem to care if you catch the handle with your shaking hands or get cut across the palm. People respond differently to it, but it effects us all.
Personally, the only way I can describe it is as the weight of an entire ocean inside your chest, while at the same time it feels as if a giant piece of you has been ripped away. I think that there are many different types of loss, each as uniquely painful although maybe not as profound as the one before; when someone you love dies, when someone that was close to you moves out of your life, when you lose yourself in an unhealthy obsession,when a person you thought you knew inside out suddenly changes, when you lose the willpower to make the best out of your life, physical loss of a treasured possession, loss of social connection with the people around you because of a mental illness..etc. The list can go on and on and on and on.
When you first experience loss, whether prepared to or not, it comes as a shock. Your entire being feels caught up in the moment. You don’t quite believe what has happened. It can’t be true. It won’t be true. You try to reason with yourself in your head. You try to think logically. You can’t. Everything is screwed over. It’s an almighty mess. It feels like the world, no, the entire universe has turned in on itself and consumed you. You feel weak. You need to sit, but you can’t. You are too angry. Suddenly all you can see is red. It bubbles up from the pit of your belly. This isn’t fair. God isn’t this uncaring. This is unacceptable. You won’t accept it. You will scream and cry on the inside if not on the outside. You feel like you’ve been abandoned. This is impossible. You had never thought that it would be as real as this. You plead and plead. Then you think about what has happened and the cycle starts all over again.
An idiot would say that it is painful. It goes much further than painful. It is on a different, unearthly scale altogether. Loss has no units. It just is. My words cannot do it justice, I think. Loss is not a language. I don’t even think it is a feeling. We hear the phrase “feelings of loss” all of the time. The closest I can come to describing it is to tell you to picture a dirty, dank river that repeatedly pulls you under until it has torn you apart. You think that your mind is destitute and any chance of future happiness is impossible. It’s undesirable at this stage you say. The prospect of moving on, even if it’s just a tiny glimmer at the bottom of the river is unimaginable. You can’t leave this behind. It has made itself part of you. It keeps you up at night and drags your thoughts and focus away during the day. Loss has replaced what was taken. And it is a monster.
They say that moving on is simple, it is that which you leave behind that makes it so difficult. I can only offer one piece of solace to those experiencing loss. You can’t change the hand you’ve been dealt, but you can choose to make the best game out of the cards you receive. No matter how long it takes, there is always a way out. Loss may always be a small part of your life, but you can be free. It doesn’t have to control you. We as humans are blessed with minds with imperfect memories. Our brains have built-in coping systems. I don’t know how people keep going on, but somehow they do.
The day you forget comes sooner than expected. On this day, you will probably get up out of bed. Then you will get dressed, eat breakfast, brush your teeth, and go about what it is you have to do on this day; school, work, whatever. Then you finish the day and head to bed. You turn over to fall asleep and then you think; “I haven’t thought about this loss for a whole day.” Initially, you feel guilty. How could you forget about something as important as this? What does this mean? Are you a robot or something? You feel a faint surge of the emptiness you felt before. And then miraculously, you feel just fine. You realise that not thinking about it all the time is ok. Forgetting doesn’t mean that that person,place or thing isn’t still a part of you. The people and things that we hold most close in this life are like prayers said in a temple; once you have given them special meaning, then they will always be there, housed in your heart. The human heart is a complex thing, I believe that it has a greater spiritual capacity then many people realise. There is room for the past, present and future. This doesn’t mean you should dwell too much on any of these three things, but it is a comfort in any case.
As you lie there in your bed, you start to think about something else, something trivial. And there you go; a small part of you has moved on.
So goes my discourse on this daunting and somewhat delicate subject.
I finish with some contemplative words;
Dedicated to Mariyah Janjua. I think that you must have two brains.