Been thinking a lot about loss. My daughter had an awesome pair of Puma California sneakers, given to her by our neighbors. We are the very happy recipients of a tidy flow of hand-me-downs from up and down the block. Lucky. These shoes were especially prized because I’ve been wearing Californias for years now and have worn out several pairs. So how cute for the two of us to have matching shoes! M loved it and I was able to scratch my seventies mother-daughter outfit nostalgia itch.
Somehow, about a month ago they just disappeared. I assumed they’d show up because how do you lose a pair of shoes? I don’t know the answer to that, but seems you just can. And somehow the loss of those shoes- she had others, plenty- has impacted me much deeper than I would have expected. I still find myself turning corners or shelves inside out hoping to make a happy discovery.
I am a little puzzled by my sadness at the loss of the shoes, awesome as they were. I suspect it’s more than that. I think it’s the latest in a series of losses that have kind of rocked me. And somehow this little loss has opened up the memories of way bygone losses. And it’s made me think about the way I hold on to things, and what it means to lose something of value and how to assign value that is meaningful.
Two months ago, the day before a trip back east with my daughter (husband to follow a week later) I had an errand day, cleaning up my to-do list. I felt hugely accomplished as I drove home with a trunk full of groceries for my husband’s stag week home and a head of newly colored hair. Until. Until I looked at my right hand on the steering wheel and there was, well, nothing. My anniversary ring- so lovely and meaningful and shiny- just gone. It was such a part of my hand I have no idea how long it had been gone. I instantly felt nauseous. C had bought that for me just the previous year, during a time of real financial struggle (sort of like the one we are in now, come to think of it) and painstakingly paid it off. I was chagrined that he’d bought such an expensive gift, but loved loved loved it and never took it off. Until somehow it fell off. Of course I retraced my steps and made frantic calls, but I knew it was just gone. C was a prince about it. Though clearly upset, he immediately reassured me that the meaning behind the ring was intact and only the symbol of it was lost. I didn’t feel any better until I put a place holder ring on, something much less wonderful, to at least feel the presence of it on my hand.
So that was a big one, and a bit before M’s shoes disappeared, it was a wad of cash, just gone. I started thinking about other losses- the car stolen the day I arrived in my new city- with all my cds still inside. I think I regretted the loss of my music more than the car. Suddenly there was this ghost parade of missing items from years past, and the losses felt fresh. Funny how some things will just stay with you for years- it’s like the outline of whatever’s missing sort of floats beside you.
Of course all this is spoken from a perspective of great privilege. After all, these losses are things, not people, not limbs or organs. Loss is change and change is inevitable, life flows and ebbs. This morning my daughter went off to preschool for the first time. She was excited and happy and I was happy for her, entering into this new independence. But the tiny baby, crawling infant, the tottering toddler, they are all gone now. Time is the greatest loss of all, isn’t it?
I’m not really sure what it all means. I wonder if it’s some great life changes (which have certainly happened to me in the last few years) I wonder if the changes sometimes make themselves felt in these moments of loss.