Loss is an interesting word. It can mean so little and so much. Lost hair? Lost keys? Lost dog? But losing for me has always been elastic in its meaning. Stretching and holding and snapping back into place again.
They say moving as a child is like experiencing a death; you lose all that’s familiar in your daily routine, you lose what you know about the world to be true, and then there’s the people. Gone are all of those friends, that feel like permanent fixtures in your life. All of it, gone.
I was a military brat as a kid. (I also lost a parent in all of that, but that’s a story for another day.) I moved A LOT–more than most people do in two lifetimes. Loss became a deep, visceral pulsing beneath my skin that beat against my trust, my ability to give freely. Despite this near-tangible being, this permanent parasite that had become a part of me, loss wasn’t a word I truly came to understand until I was an adult. An adult out in the world, attempting to find a place I could call home that held significance, a place that would fill me up. I had never had the experience of running into folks at the library or the grocery, or bumping into so-and-so at the local coffee shop. I was unknown wherever I ventured, an outsider, an unloved. It wasn’t until much later that it really soaked in that I meant something to someone, really meant something, and that they would STAY and our relationships would endure; that it didn’t all just slip away. And that was the hardest part of all– to allow myself to love and BE loved.
So I say loss is elastic. It is, for me, because the loss GAVE ME SO MUCH. I always knew myself. There was never any guessing. All of that starting over taught me who I was at a young age–a gift I held dear. Loss is elastic because through it all, I ultimately gained more than I could hold. I gained perspective, the ability to see, to absorb, to be open-minded; to compare new environments, new cultures, new ways of life, TO UNDERSTAND. I gained the ability to watch and be unseen. I gained a writer’s lens. For that, I’ll be forever grateful. So all of that hurtful loss bends and stretches around so much good, and holds all of it–the emotions and experiences and GIFTS together just like an elastic.
Now, I can honestly say, I’m truly grateful for all of that loss.