W101 – What is Found in Loss
Day Thirteen: Serially Found
On day four, you wrote a post about losing something. Today’s Prompt: write about finding something.
Today’s twist: if you wrote day four’s post as the first in a series, use this one as the second installment — loosely defined.
In response to Day 4 I received a comment about embracing my losses and that seemed the perfect invocation to jump off into this day, Part 2 – What is Found in Loss.
In my post for Day 4 I wrote about the trepidation I felt towards writing about the subject of loss; I didn’t want to write about my most potent loss and yet it reached out and found me like a lighthouse. I ducked past the light and dove into the shadows of memories that follow me around. I danced and frolicked with them, smiling and crying while I wrote about Spike and mentioned other four-legged companions in passing. It was fitting but so too was my realization that to discuss loss is to reconnect with what is lost, thereby finding it all over again. I’m also learning that sometimes through loss we also find our connections with other people however unfortunate the circumstances may be.
It wasn’t just that it felt so obvious to write about the loss of my brother, as I said I don’t want to wear it like a flashy badge. A lot of people have experienced a lot more loss than I and in much shorter periods of time, I know this. To some extent such people are like treated wood, so ready to weather the storm. I never want to come off as though I’m looking for, or even want, pity because I most certainly don’t; it just so happens that I am forever dissecting this thing called Death ever since it came so close to my door. It’s like I joined a club I never signed up for and now I keep getting the newsletters with no option to unsubscribe. When my little sister does something that could potentially be dangerous I worry more than I used to. When the goodbyes I say to my mother and father before they head off to their next destination linger I don’t like the possibilities that flirt with my thoughts. When I go somewhere, attend something, and I get a bad feeling I don’t like wondering how everything will go after I’m gone, remembering how it did with him. I don’t like that I don’t know, I don’t like to remember that my little brother had so many plans and then suddenly they were all cancelled for him.
Several days after he died – almost 3 1/2 years ago – I returned to my boyfriend’s driveway after leaving my mother’s house. In all honesty, I didn’t want to be anywhere with anyone really but I didn’t know where to go. He was inside with his brother, his little brother, and I didn’t want to stand around them and listen to their words when my emotions trumped everything inside me that could be said or heard. So I sat in my car for 10-15 minutes I think, could have been more or less though I don’t know. I wrote a poem on my phone. I wrote a new poem, something I was unable to do for his funeral for which I tried to pick the most appropriate one I’d already written, but none of them ever really felt perfect even as I picked one nonetheless. But I don’t always have control over when my insides, my emotions, decide to speak up for themselves. What came out in my car though was perfect; where was it when I needed it? I decided then and there that my next collection of poetry would be about Death, perhaps it would be a conversation with Death I thought, and yet my first had yet to be published. I was angry and broken over its reality that cut so close to the heart it disrupted everything inside me until I didn’t know up from down. I didn’t know how to be nor how to be seen. In my selfishness I wished we could hold off the funeral and all its proceedings, the necessity to arrange and plan and take care of his things, I just wanted to wait until I stopped feeling so lost and useless.
Even now I struggle with the conversation of it, this conversation, making it public and putting it out on my blog for God’s sake. That sounds so cliché, so over-exposed , so tabloid. But I realized in Part 1 – Of Serial Losses that at some point it must be done if I’m to publish an entire collection stemming from this tragedy. I guess I want to give people a chance to know where it’s coming from. Sometimes the mystery and illusions of poetry are what make it appealing, well quite often really, and I think that people don’t want to see the man or woman behind the curtain. And yet I’m of the mind that sometimes the author and the work itself gain more meaning when meaning is given. How much of life are we already trying to figure out and decipher? I think too that I want my poetry to be more accessible – maybe not all of it – to people who don’t like poetry, who don’t want to interpret or guess they just want to understand. And so I embark on this conversation about What is Found in Loss because I want to open the gateway to it being an all-inclusive conversation. I want to engage with the world around me even as I dive into this dark concept, even as I marinate in my expression. My purpose is not only to express, and embrace as has been said, this but also to reach out and empathize. I want to understand and I want it to be understood that when and where I can, I understand. You are not alone in your loss.
Immediately following my brother’s death an uncle of mine became a source of connection, an outstretched hand, in a way I hadn’t necessarily expected. There were many people, don’t get me wrong, who reached out to us. Another uncle and aunt were at my mother’s in no time after the police arrived, as were many of my cousins; everyone rallied together. This one uncle stood by quietly ready and willing for whatever but it wasn’t until he reminded me in a manner of speaking that a new door opened through which I could engage with the other end of this thing: his brother had died decades earlier (a fact I’d never forgotten). It was a sensation similar to going out and doing something on your own – like riding your bike without training wheels – but knowing that someone is there to catch you should you fall. The understanding I knew he had, was like an open window when all I felt was cooped and cluttered, unable to escape. There wasn’t a whole lot that was said and I’m not sure I ever really made it known just how much I appreciate he and my aunt’s being there so much for my family; they were among the tireless mourners prepared to do whatever. Last year a girl who went to school with one of my siblings, a family we had known in passing if you will, passed away in a boating accident. My dad told me he reached out to the girl’s father and attended her funeral. I remember how I felt when he told me, how this warmth ruminated in me as I imagined how they may have felt a small piece of grace to connect with someone who literally knew what they were going through. It’s like when a [dog-friendly] dog sees another dog, that kinship; or a pair of geese join the flock at the water’s edge. You’re one of me and I’m one of you, even if just for this moment. Just as with my first book of poetry so too with my experiences with this incidence of death, I want to open a door for my expressions to fly out into the wind but also for people to come through and find a place of familiarity even if just in passing. As it goes, and will always go, to be like-minded doesn’t always mean we are so because of things that are happy and positive. Sometimes when life breaks us it is through connections that we become something more whole, never who we were before, but a piece even of something like a quilt. That yellow blanky will never be again, but at least now it is no longer a scrap.
What is more however is that in writing this book I reconnect and I converse with the memories and the soul that is my brother. One day, some months ago, I sat down just as I am now in front of my computer. I turned to my OneNote poetry notebook and opened the folder for my new collection; there wasn’t much in it. I then clicked on the section “Newest Thoughts” and I sat there. You have got to do more with this if you’re going to be publishing anything. I questioned if I should even publish under this theme, this concept after all. After so many years, that one poem served as the kickstarter, was that really a good idea or was it just something a person under those circumstances who happens to be an artist does? I baulked at my doubt and just started writing little notes about how I felt pertaining to his death. It wasn’t long before it kaleidoscoped into something tremendous, the catalyst of Hydrogen and Oxygen coming together as I began to cry. The more I explored my feelings the more I recognized and the more I wrote. It had been some time since I’d really sat down with a good cry for my brother, in fact sometimes I avoid it. At least when Spike passed I was somewhat prepared, I knew he wouldn’t make it past his teens, but I didn’t know my brother would never make it to 30. And as many of you who have experienced tragic, untimely loss know there’s no good way to make peace with your aging face when their pictures always stay the same. My irrational thoughts converge with my emotions and we feel terrible to leave him behind in a time that we simply cannot hold on to. I remember hearing that my dad told someone he didn’t want my brother to wind up just being a picture on the wall like so often happens once a person has passed. I understand better now, what it is to look at the picture of someone gone but to have known them, versus the person who looks at the picture and listens to the story but can only imagine.
And so my brainstorming session went, and went, and I have to be careful when and where I read it, turn back to it to work on my collection because it’s not always good practice to bust out crying in public. I guess it was a therapy session in which it wasn’t so much new things that came to the surface but things I hoard and often avoid, because change is only part of the nature of Death as that is what it does to us, not us to it. So there is a lot that I have found but not so much that I have found things that were lost rather I guess I’m like Hansel and Gretel finding things along the trail… from time to time I find him, or him, me…