Sunday, March 9, 2014

What Is Loss?

That's a serious question, there.

What is loss?

Up until last July, I had no idea what the true answer to that question was.

See, for me....loss was breaking up with someone you loved.  Losing a boyfriend.  That was loss.  It was this void that eventually kind of faded away as you moved on. 

But real loss is this thing that you can never quite wrap your head around.  It's like this weird question mark in a way.  Kind of like you don't know the answer, and yet you do.

See, real loss is someone being there one day and then not being there the next.  It's someone's slippers going unworn.  Or their favorite sweater that the lived in....going unworn.  It's walking into your kitchen and seeing the same person sitting in the same spot..and then they're just not there anymore. 

Real loss isn't someone deciding to move on with their life.  You don't awkwardly run into them at the grocery store.  Or see them at a party hosted by mutual friends.  See, because the first loss I thought I knew...wasn't loss.  That person was still in the present.  You could, if you wanted to, call them.  See them.  Stalk them.  Whatever suits your fancy. 

Real loss is never having those options again.  Real loss is wanting to hear someone's voice, and only being able to hear it on replayed videos.  Or saved voicemails.  Real loss is wanting to smell them again.  But the lingering scent on their clothes only lasts for so long.  And then they smell like nothing.  Real loss is permanent.  And that's the thing. 

You wake up one morning and everything seems so normal for a split second.  And then, you remember that it's not.  Not because you constantly dwell on it....but because there are always reminders.  Songs, sounds, smells, foods....things that remind you of them.  Every now and then, I'd buy a cheese danish for my dad.  And it was such a stupid thing.  I'd buy it because it was his most favorite thing.  And then I'd remember he was dead.  Like in an instant, I'd forgotten.  And then end up crying over a stupid cheese danish.  Sounds insane, doesn't it?  It's been eight months and I still sometimes buy his favorite things at the grocery store out of habit.  Or I'll see one of the medications he took at the pharmacy and pick it up.  It's weird.  Every Sunday night I'd re-fill his medication box - so Sunday nights feel strange now.  Like I'm forgetting something. 

My brother-in-law's father died last May.  He was at dialysis and he suffered a massive heartattack.  He was unconcious when he was taken to the hospital and never woke up again.  His kidneys failed.  His heart failed.  He died without ever seeing his family that one last time.  They never got to hear his voice one last time.  There was no goodbye.  No apologies.  Nothing.  All that's left behind is the emptiness of loss.

I was really blessed in that respect.  Before my dad died I wrote him a very long letter.  He was in and out of conciousness for the most part.  Lucid when he was awake, but completely comatose otherwise.  We watched the sunrise from his hospital room window one morning and I read him my letter.  I apologized to him for everything.  I told him how much I loved him.  I got my time with him.  I got to hear him tell me he loved me.  He wiped my tears when I cried for him that morning.  I can't even find accurate words to convey how much that means to me today.  Before he died, I'd leave for work every morning and have this fear in me that today was the day.  He'd have a heartattack.  Or a stroke.  Or a seizure.  and I'd get that call.  And I was always afraid that I'd lose him and never get to say goodbye.  Or that last I love you.  Or that he would never know that even when I didn't say it, I was grateful for every single thing he ever taught me. 

This morning I got a call that my brother-in-law's sister's husband had a seizure during the night and he was on life support. He is 47 years old.  The reality being that...he's not ever waking up.  His heart has stopped three times today.  My brother-in-law's sister takes my niece to school every day.  Her husband brings her to work every day.  We wave to each other.  Every day.  He's a part of my daily routine.  He's always pleasant.  Always kind.  Whenever she talks about him she lights up.  They've been together for 17 years..and she still lights up.  Now she's sitting at his hospital bedside.  Waiting for a miracle.  And I know the outcome.  She's going to lose her husband like she lost her dad.  Without ever getting to say goodbye.  Or ever getting in that last I love you.  Or ever hearing his voice again.  It hasn't even been a year and she and her son will have lost the only two men that have ever been in their lives.  That breaks my heart.  That loss.  That's the loss that breaks you as a person.  I spoke to her..and she said she just wanted to go with him. 

Since my dad died, I've had this bizarre numb feeling inside of me.  Numb to everything.  Not because I don't care about things.  But because a small part of me feels like my person is gone.  The one person I put the most effort into saving..was gone.  And it didn't matter how hard I tried, he was gone forever.

That's real loss.  Real loss is heartbreaking and you never recover from it.  You still search crowds for their face.  Still forget and do things out of habit for them.  I've come to equate going through real loss to a never ending subway ride.  You sit in your seat, everything goes by in a blur.  You see places..and things..and people.  But you never really see them.  After a while you've stopped looking.  Because it's all so routine.  The same thing.  Almost the same day on repeat.  Nothing changes.  Nothing draws a reaction from you.  Nothing really matters.

And when I started this three hours ago..I didn't know what I wanted to write.  Just that I needed to write. 

And if you made it this far in this shitty fucking post.....thanks.

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