Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.
Loss…yes losing things, people and time. It’s a thread that runs consistently through my life. I’ve gotten used to it, perhaps too used to it at this point. It just seems normal to me now. I lose things daily; my keys, the tools I am working with, and lots of time. Time is something you can’t find again, once lost it is really seriously GONE.
Over my half century of life on this planet I have experienced several major life losses. As a child my first loss that comes to mind was moving from one school to a new school, from one state where I started school, made friends, had a life outside of school on the dirt baseball diamond on Hidley Road, ran like a banshee through the orchards, built enormous tree forts with rope swing escapes and kissed my first girl, back to my home state of Maine and it all happened very very quickly for my young brain to adapt to easily. Not until years later, in my 20’s did I understand why we moved so quickly, packing and being picked up by my Aunt and Uncle seemingly in the middle of the night to be transported back to my Nana’s house in southern Maine.
My second huge loss was that of my Nana. I was 10 and a few months, in the 3rd grade and we had recently made that drastic move back to Maine. I was sleeping and heard my 8 months pregnant mother crying and screaming downstairs in our house, then the car screeching it’s tires out of our drive way. I was afraid something was wrong with her or the baby. My uncle told me to go back to bed that everything would be ok and they just had to go somewhere fast. I crawled back into bed, Nana came in and sat on my bed and began rubbing my back like she always did to put me to sleep. She told me things would be just fine, that my Mom was fine and the baby was going to be fine, too. She hummed and rubbed my back until I fell asleep. That was the last time I ever saw her. See, the screams from my mother were caused by a phone call from my Aunt telling her that her mother, my Nana, had just died at her home across town. Evidently her spirit had to come to me that night to comfort and console me, and perhaps to just see me one more time, and to let me know that things would be fine. I have felt the repercussions of the loss of that great woman, my Nana, through my whole life, and I still miss her today.
In high school there were a couple of losses that changed my life; tweaked it just a little. As a freshmen I was trying out for the basket ball team. I had practiced and I was pretty good little guard and could shoot too. The coach didn’t care for me much, and chose another player over me – one who couldn’t even dribble the ball correctly! That served to sour me on school team sports. I decided if I didn’t fit with the jock or athletic crowd that I must find a way to fit in with the cool or troubled crowd. And I did a great job at that! Then my “cool” crowd suffered the loss of one of it’s own when my friend Jimmy was killed one night after partying across town…he was hit by a tractor trailer on the interstate. Did he commit suicide? Or was it an accident due to disorientation? Who knows, but seeing his lifeless body in that casket, the way they had put him “back together” was horrifying to my 16 year old brain.
During my teen years I experienced a loss of freedom, as I stayed in the closet very deep about my sexuality. I knew I was attracted to girls and I knew that would be a problem with everyone in my life – from parents to school chums. The cool crowd would never accept me if I came out as gay, so I hid it; buried the feelings very deep. I participated in a lot of illicit drug use to cover the pain and to reassure my “cool” status with my chosen crowd of friends. I never drank alcohol though, it just never appealed to me much and I disliked the taste and loss of control kind of feeling it gave me. So, I stuffed my frustrated feelings for other girls, my sexuality and my real personality so far down that no one knew. I even moved in with my boyfriend for a short time after high school, which is when I lost my innocence. I became a victim of domestic violence and saw a new side of life.
By this time I was used to loss and used to hiding my true self from the world. I joined the military, where I found my people. I found that many of the women in the Army during the early 1980’s were lesbian or bisexual. I was able to come out, with some minor coaxing and a hilarious scene with throwing my roomies bed out the window after a fit of internalized homophobia of my own. So just before I lost my “cover” I lost my mind for a minute there. Was this real? Could it be possible that there were others that felt like I did and could live like normal people – whatever “normal” is to anyone? I could and I did. And while living during off duty time openly, I managed to keep it under wraps during uniform time and serve out my obligated term in the service, and then some.
During the 80’s we all lost sexual freedom with the appearance and discovery of the AIDS virus, HIV. I lost my mind for a while there in the mid-to-late 80’s and became heavily involved in IV drug use, mostly cocaine and some heroin addiction just for good measure. After a bout in rehab, I entered some intense one-on-one counselling with a female counselor, a fellow lesbian, and someone I could open up to and relate to finally. She taught me to use the tools in my internal tool box to cope with life without drugs. She urged me to be tested for HIV…I was postiive. So I lost again. I lost the game of russian roulette in a way, as I would have to live out my life with HIV infection due to a one time share of a needle. Of all the luck.
By the time I turned 32 I had discovered I was infected with HIV and I had been clean from the illicit drug use for about 3 years. Then I met a woman, fell in love at first sight and spent the next 13+ years with her, building our dream home and creating our nirvana so to speak. There were losses for us, friends dying of AIDS related illnesses in the late 80’s and early 90’s, losses of beloved pets we had had for years, the loss of my favorite Aunt to breast cancer; the losses of friends over petty disagreements, and the such. But we remained strong together for many years and I loved her dearly, and she me. In the end I lost that relationship over my own stupidity and a major mid-life crisis at 45. My medications were messed up, my brain was messed up because of that, and I messed up royally. In hind-sight this could be the biggest loss of my life to date in many ways. I miss her still today, but know that she is happy and has moved on from the hurt and sad ending of our relationship. Me? I’m not so sure…I may still hold a torch or two for her, probably always will to some degree.
The next loss I caused myself. I fell madly, passionately in love with a wonderful woman and with callous words broke her heart and destroyed her trust in me. I was running scared, I didn’t know what else to do, and I didn’t feel “good enough” at the time for the caliber of woman that she was, so I ran. That was perhaps the stupidest loss of my life. I wish every day still that I could turn back time and erase that one phone call of stupidity and misspoken words. My heart will forever be entrapped by her, and that’s okay with me, it’s made me stronger inside and taught me patience and virtue. One day perhaps she’ll allow me back in; allow me to explain and allow miracles to happen. That is the one serious loss that I regret the most.
Yes, life is made up of gains and losses, in essence. We gain things, and we lose things throughout our lives. We live through these things, live through the losses and learn from the experiences. The last 7 years since I left that long term relationship I have suffered minor set backs, some losses but have gained much insight into my true self and who I really am in this world. I am a composition of all of my experiences, my gains, my losses, and everything in between; everything that went on and led to each and every moment is part of the make up of who I am today. And I thank my lucky stars for all of it, for without my personal experiences I would not be who I was meant to be, or do what I am meant to do in this life. Life is about what you make of it, not what happens to you. Loss is just part of the process of becoming your authentic self.