A Picture of Loss

A friend asked me if I ever plan on writing anything deeper than what I usually write. Aside from the fact that I prefer to make people laugh, and that I strongly believe that continuously pointing out the problems in the world without endeavoring to offer a solution (which I don’t exactly have) only adds to those problems, I usually just write about whatever’s going on in my life and the thoughts that come of that. For example, “Limited Social Capacity” was motivated by the fact that I was going to take a walk with a friend and then she invited one of her friends to join us without giving me advance warning (the time appointed doesn’t count as advance warning), much to my chagrin.

Unfortunately, recent events have been a little bit too deep to share in a general blog like this one. Hence the lack of posts for several weeks—or however long it’s been. I had things to say, but I just didn’t want to explain them as fully as the context demanded. However, there is one deep thing that I am willing to share.

For years, I’ve noticed writers’ depictions of loss, and most of the time, these depictions don’t exactly ring true with me. I’m not suggesting that these writers haven’t experienced real loss or don’t understanding it. I’m actually talking about loss viewed from a distance. Many writers seem to act as if a loss hurts exactly the same way and exactly the same amount no matter how far removed the character is from it. So a death that occurred ten years ago is just as traumatic as a death that occurred ten days ago.

This translates to real life in some ways. People tend to think, when they hear that someone has lost someone many years ago, that merely bringing it up has caused intense pain.

It doesn’t exactly work that way. While it’s not always true that time heals all wounds, it is true that time changes wounds. Asking me how I lost my mother isn’t a bitter reminder of her death. It may seem callous and insensitive, but it didn’t happen yesterday. Feel free to ask me what happened, how it happened, or what I was feeling. That isn’t the kind of wound I have today, more than ten years later.

The wound I have now is not a wound of loss, but a wound born of a bunch of never’s—missed opportunities. As much as I loved my mother, I wasn’t old enough or mature enough to have a really developed relationship with her, so now I will never know what it is to have a truely deep relationship with my mother. Don’t get me wrong, I have been blessed—so very blessed—by the many women who have filled in the gaps, as it were, ever since I was fourteen. But none of these people are my mother. And there are certain gaps that just can’t be filled by people who haven’t always been there.

Now, lest you think that every time I see someone with their mother I’m deeply hurt by this missing part of me, again, that’s not how it works. While I do find it believable when a character starts a crusade because of the death of a relative and keeps it up for many years (crusades become habit forming), I don’t find it at all believable when a character constantly brings up a relative’s death as a point of everlasting and unchanging pain. These missed opportunities hurt, but not every day. What lingers isn’t the day she died, but the fact that, for whatever reason, my brothers and I called her “Ma-ee” (don’t even try to pronounce it, no one will ever pronounce it the way we did). That she was just as much of a night owl as I am. That she introduced me to Harry Potter. That one of the only things I remember about learning to read was the day she started reading The Hobbit to me and never finished so I wanted to learn to read in order to finish it.

So, I’m sorry, Barry Allen, but your writers are doing it wrong.

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One thought on “A Picture of Loss

  1. I had no idea you lost your mother. I’m sorry for that and am glad you have fond memories associated with her.

    I definitely agree with you when it comes to loss and how it’s sometimes depicted. What bugs me is when that loss is often felt immediately, especially when there is no warning or anticipation of it (at least in regards to losing a person, losing a thing isn’t quite the same, I’ve realized). I don’t know if it’s something that can be felt differently by different people, but with me losing a person doesn’t really “hit” until a week or so later. That is when the flood of tears comes and you just find it hard to breathe because you’re sobbing so hard.

    Thank you for sharing this even though it’s not your usual sort of post.

    Liked by 1 person

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