Monday, March 27, 2017

Loss wrapped in beauty

Loss can jump out of the shadows sometimes, very abruptly, leaving a gash on our souls that demands our attention. A sudden illness diagnosis, a miscarriage, the death of a loved one, loss of a job, being wounded by someone we trusted. But loss can also creep across us, the way a beautiful sunset somewhere along the course of time turns into total darkness as the sun disappears and clouds cover the stars and moon.

And loss, wrapped in beauty, is perhaps the most difficult of all to respond to simply because when loss and beauty are intertwined, the loss can go unnoticed until it reveals itself in a pile of rubble made of bits of loveliness.

It's a friendship that brings so much life and joy, that starts to dissipate and is one day altered or gone.

It's a journey into parenthood, that brings so much newness and hope and laughter, but also ushers in a loss of independence, flexibility, and self-confidence.

It's the decision to start a family that starts with excitement, anticipation, and hope, and somewhere turns into bruised hearts, fleeting dreams, and another box of even more unwanted tampons.

It's the relationship or marriage that is full of so much laughter, dreaming, and togetherness that picks up dents and dings, and can turn into an efficient business/parenting partnership where gymnastics and football practice are calendared and bills are paid but backs turn as lovers roll away to the far edges of the bed, and we shrug to a friend over coffee, the tears dried up, "I don't know, somewhere we just lost each other."

It's the pursuit of the new passion that starts with energy, a renewed sense of self, and a belief in adventure that can turn into a sudden realization that priorities have slipped, and with it, health, relationships, and margin.

Loss wrapped in beauty is tricky, not just because it sneaks up on us, but precisely because it is wrapped in beauty. And to give up this kind of loss, would be to give up the beauty as well.

There are so many sayings that can be summed up more or less in the most popular of them all "better to have love and lost, than never to have loved at all." Yeah, sure, we all know it's true, but it sure doesn't ring true on that day (or week, or month, or year, or season) of loss, at least it doesn't for me.

But, what I'm slowly starting to see, is that not only can I develop a habit of seeing the beauty in spite of the loss, but, if I open my heart to it, there may even be beauty in the middle of the loss. Maybe, just maybe, loss is fertile ground for new beauty.

Not that there is beauty in broken dreams, shattered marriages, lost friendships, elusive pregnancies, or the moments of parenting that rip off every last bit of veneer and reveal our ugliest selves. These are the losses, the full-throated, warm-blooded losses that cut us at our knees every time. Having gone through these, or held dear friends and family while they went through these, I know these are the things darkness is made of.  While stillness can be found in the dark, it is a weighty stillness borne of necessity, and not the stillness of a flower tilted toward the sun.

The beauty is what is borne out of losses acknowledged, shared, grieved. This beauty is born out of a friend turning further toward you, not away when you casually hint that you're experiencing a loss. This beauty is born out of a partner pulling closer when you admit you've failed, or point out that perhaps they have.

This beauty is born out of surrender to the hope tomorrow will be better, even if today's view is blurred with tears and rain. This beauty is born out of the healing that comes when we share our greatest fears, failings, and broken dreams and are met with a teary whisper from the soul of one we dared to tell, "I know."

This beauty is born when we are seen, and still loved, not to whisk the loss away, but to help us weave it somehow into a piece of what is the tapestry of our lives.

I don't know what your losses are - whether they jumped out and bit you, or snuck in wrapped in beauty but lately seem only blackness. But I know you've got them, or as it feels at times, they've got you.

But I also know the only wasted string in a tapestry is the one that's never seen, never acknowledged, never incorporated into the whole. Whatever your loss is, I know someone will hold it well, will hold you well, will let it be loss, but not see you as lost. And when they do, I know that tenderly held strand of your life will begin to weave in to beauty, not just yours but theirs, too. I know that a seemingly lifeless color will provide contrast to the brighter hues of realized dreams, loves, and life.

Don't brush away your losses with callousness or shove them away with grit - see them, grieve them, share them. They are yours, but they are not you.

And maybe (often) the loss is only a season, and the friendship returns, or the pregnancy happens, or the marriage is filled with renewed life, or the parenting hits a better rhythm - but even if this is the case, there still will have been a loss. A loss that is a part of your story.

Dear one, for whoever you are, you are dear - your story, made up of your dreams, your loves, your successes mixed with your failings, your defeats, your losses - it is the only one that's ever been written quite like it. Sure, the pieces of you in and of themselves are similar to many others. You're probably one of a billion people who can sing, and one of 4 billion who can cook, and one of 7 billion who've loved, and been wounded. But your tapestry is as different from anyone else as each new sunrise is as different from the one the night before.

Sunrise, the mixture of darkness and light, of loss and gain, of end and beginning - all wrapped into one unique and beautiful masterpiece that impacts every one who sees it. Just like you.

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