Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Loss, Shadows and What Remains

When we lose something we cherish, it can feel as though a piece of our own essence has been carried away with the wind. We try to run after those pieces, hoping that we might catch them, but suddenly realize that the wind will take them far away from our grasp. It's a tough lesson to learn. No matter how hard you try, how far you run, or how many times you think you've got a chance to grab a hold of that "something" again, it's not coming back.

Or so we think. We may go on for years missing what or who we think we've lost because we're looking for the form we used to know. We even do this with our own selves, I think. At times we're wistful for who we used to be. We do this because we haven't fully embraced who we are now. Somewhere inside what we've become doesn't quite fit the ideal of what we would like to be. Problem is back then it was the same story, just a different detail or two. The other half of the problem is we fail to recognize that what we think of our former self is still within us. It's not gone completely, but rather remains as a smaller piece to the more evolved person we've become.

A loss of something or someone is not one of life's details we can usually control. We try to anyway, through denial or hope that it somehow isn't true. Or we try to do what we can to save them, but then realize that there are some things that can't be saved. Like cancer. Sickness. HIV. An accident. Or the passages of life. Growing up. Moving away. Change.

If we could somehow freeze time, would it really make a difference? Would we even really want to? I'm not sure I would. When I look back at people I've lost or at who I used to be, I realize that without what appears to be loss and my former self dissipating into the shadows, I wouldn't have grown into who I am now. And there's lots of times that I like and appreciate my current existence. I think about who I am now and how I somehow got here. Then I realize that it's because of all those experiences I had and the people whom I crossed paths with.

Not everyone is meant to stay with us as we currently know them forever. I no longer see either one of my fathers with my eyes during the day. The first one I've never seen again, but I think there's a reason for that. The second one I do see again, from time to time, at night. He's in my dreams, still here. Still speaking. Sometimes I feel his presence in the room or one of my "guides" tells me what he wants to say. He tells me he's sorry. I tell him I know. I tell him I forgive him and that I meant those three words I said as we hugged for the last time on that summer day in '03. He could barely breathe, eat, walk or stand. But that's not how I remember him. And that's certainly not how he reappears.

You see, loss is never what it appears to be. Shadows are things that we'd rather forget or a reflection of an unacknowledged truth. But do we? No, they always find a way back into our minds and into our souls. We can't escape who we were because a piece of us is still that person. A piece of us is still living in those moments. Those moments are what gave us our Self. No regrets. No looking back. At least not in disappointment or wallowed nostalgia.

Those that we've lost in this realm we'll see again, someday. We may not remember each other at first, but the pull will be too strong to deny. The unexplained recognition will be within our eyes and in our hearts. Until then, we'll have to listen to their whispers and remember their images when we awake.


  1. Sometimes I wish I heard more of those whispers from my father who died when I was 14. I had one dream a few years ago in which he came to me and told me he was sorry for not preparing me and my brother for his leaving. It was so real and I have no doubt that it was him. I want so much to go back sometimes and get to know him, but I don't really want to turn back time, which would change things. I like my life now, but I'm also glad things keep changing because my life can be even better as I evolve. As much as I want to hold onto the past, I just as much want to move on. So no wallowing, just remembering with my feet headed toward the future...eyes looking forward often enough so I don't miss what's right in front of me. Thanks for the beautiful post.

  2. Thanks for sharing a bit of your story. Very moving. Of course, I don't really think there is a past, present and future in the linear sense. Our conscious self only experiences it as such, which is why I think we're torn between them sometimes.