I am well aware that I lead a charmed life. Really, despite the overtones of angst and uncertainty that always seem to infiltrate my words, I really don’t have much to be sad about, as I’ve never suffered any great loss.
And yet, loss seems to be all around me without actually touching me. I have dear friends who have lost mothers, fathers, sisters, best friends and grandparents; who have lost jobs, homes, health, and physical ability. I was reminded of this recently in conversations with friends whose lives have been touched by loss.
This may sound naive, or worse, insincere, but I hold much admiration for these individuals. In part because I wonder how they have been so strong and courageous to carry on, and in part because they each wear their scars of loss with such wisdom, grace and beauty that I can’t help but admire the piece of their souls that is revealed by such a loss. I’ve always feared that a loss so significant would break me in half.
My mom lost her mom when she was ten-years-old. To this day, one of my greatest regrets is not having known my grandmother, because my mom speaks of her with such respect and affection. Her eyes actually dance when she tells stories of her, always mentioning “that Alice-Taylor-wit.” I’ve only ever seen one photograph of her when I was very little, but I picture her as a woman small in stature yet mighty in spirit. My mother wears the wounds of her loss with wisdom, and I know that she is grateful for each moment and each milestone that she gets to share with me, which mirror moments from her own life that she did not get to share with her mother.
I don’t know about loss. When I don’t know about something, I don’t know what to say, so I don’t say much. This makes me unsure of how to support loved ones who are coping with loss. I sit and I listen, and I wish I was the type of friend who was intuitive enough to sense what this person needs in this moment. I worry about saying the wrong thing, or asking the wrong questions, or asking too many questions, I worry that my quiet listening isn’t helping. Then I realize that all my worry is self-centered, as it’s built around my insatiable and unhealthy need to be thought of as a “good person.” Thus, I do my best to place worry aside, and resume listening, sitting.
After such an encounter, I of course resume worrying, this time about how I will respond if and when loss touches my own life. Then I chastise myself again for worrying, this time with the superstitious warning that I’ll somehow tempt the fates and invite tragedy to strike. But I think the reason I expend so much energy on worry is because deep down I think that worrying will make me more prepared to deal with trials when they come. This is completely faulty logic, but unfortunately I have a faulty psyche, and it is really really hard for me to let go of worry. What if something happens to my parents or my brother while I’m in North Carolina? Or while I’m in Peru?
There aren’t many feelings I hate more than feeling unprepared. I’m a woman who loves to make a plan, but worry is not the same as planning. Never mind the fact there is no planning for loss.
For years, I feel like I have been trying to learn how to let go, and not allow worry to rule my life, not be so afraid of losing my people.
I wish I learned faster.