Loss, in the many ways it comes to us, causes us grief.
I’ve been thinking a bit about what grief is lately. Into a life a little rain must fall. This describes my otherwise blessed life. The holidays brought new family (in-laws) and pronouncements of a new baby, and time spent really, really being present with those we love. Unfortunately, it was also the end of a year that my husband and I were blessed to have our youngest daughter live with us. She didn’t just move out; she moved an ocean away.
The holidays seem to be a time for marathon movie watching. This year it was the Harry Potter movies. It was in one of those as I passively watched, I learned what a horcrux was. I don’t consider myself a dark wizard or witch, but I began to turn this concept of leaving a piece of yourself in another in my mind. I thought about how our children have a piece of us in them. Well, of course, they have our DNA, but more than that. They seem to have in them, us and the generations before us, pieces of ourselves in their character, their talents, and even their “hardwiring” toward the world at large.
When we lose a child, even just to the many miles across continents and oceans, we lose a piece of ourselves – a horcrux, if you will. No wonder we grieve.
A piece of us is lost. Why wouldn’t that hurt? We lose a grip on our hopes and dreams, maybe. For me, I lost my muse. I lost the part of me that might have been. The artist, the risk-taker, and the fixer/tool maven. All of these are things that I thought I had a capacity for, but for whatever reason were not nurtured. I’m amazed at her talents. I try to emulate that risk taking. Fixing things and figuring things out for myself rather than just letting my husband figure it out for me. It is empowering. Now I feel a little out on the edge about to teeter off. And, I don’t like it.
So, why does this loss hurt so much? I was reminded by a wise young person (Thanks, David Haigh) of a quote by C. S. Lewis: “It’s the cost of love.”
What isn’t treasured, loved, wanted and needed does not cost us. It’s nothing to us. So, this grief…. It’s the toll one pays for love. And, I’d rather love. This messy, chaotic, needy feeling that hurts like all of Hell in one pin prick. So it hurts; at least I feel something. How empty this life would be without love. So, a piece of me lives in Bonn. Pieces of me are in Heaven, but also in the wastelands of broken dreams and relationships, wasted moments and lost opportunities. All own a piece of me in this amazing universe. Strangely, this moves me forward knowing I may meet myself again and again in others, connecting with those fragments perhaps not as lost as I thought.
In postscript, I learned today that a former colleague has left this earth. She was way too young and far too impactful to be gone to us. I grieve for the loss of her as well. To Megan, and all the others – to Jeannie, to Geri, to Renee – who taught me to be passionate, to live life boldly, but lovingly – to my Aunt Charlotte and my father who taught me to live with high standards and integrity, and my mother who help me understand forgiveness and mercy – to all those who left a piece of themselves in me, I do grieve for the loss of you.
What I know is that pieces of you are left in all of us, so when I look around I am truly surrounded by you. The best parts of you remain in all of us.
And, may that be true now, that I can be as warm and engaging, interesting and smart, and always the learner searching to understand. RIP Megan McConnell