Write to me of loss, I said. I'm interested in loss. Tell me about the first time. What did it feel like?
I wrote about losing my wisdom tooth, I've written about losing contests, I asked you to write about your losses. Succinctly, freely, instantly, 250 words or less. Some of you did, and it was fantastic.
Deb at Kicking Corners wrote about an old loss that somehow uncovered more recent losses.
Michelle at Buttered Toast Rocks wrote about the good kind of loss - the little loss of selfishness that comes with being a mother.
Larissa at Papa Is a Preacher wrote about the necessity of loss for growth, the divine plan in loss and even used a parable.
Masked Mom wrote about a loss of something indescribable as a child, but clearly a loss.
Jane In Her Infinite Wisdom sent me this marvelous link. It's a project driven by loss, to uncover the commonalities across the board in all kinds of loss.
Casey has a whole blog dedicated to dealing with cyber losses. Check it out here.
I had a few other responses, too. A fellow blogger commented on the BlogHer version of the post and wondered if it was necessary to examine losses.
A friend of mine told me this in an email: "I apologize, but I'm not gonna write about loss. I'm trying to explain, but I'm having trouble getting the words right. So simply put, I'm not gonna write about loss cuz I don't want to."
Only a very small part of this whole exercise comes from a creepy voyeurism on my part, I promise. I have been pushing my writing (obviously not my blog writing) to its limits and beyond lately. I've tried to stop being so polite, so proper. It has been the sweatiest of exercise for me. I don't like to sweat, but there is the hope that after I'm all showered up, I'll feel better for having done it. Not feel better for the sake of a kind of therapy, but that the writing will feel better - healthier, more toned, leaner, stronger. I believe in writing for therapeutic reasons; I don't necessarily believe in publishing said writing. I do, however, think we can use these intense emotions, these moments in our life that take our breath away (for good or for bad) to enrich our writing, rather than skimming merrily along the surface.
There is a price, though. It's sweaty. It's uncomfortable. It's exhausting. It sometimes takes you places you weren't quite prepared to go. Sometimes it frightens small children (this is why I write after they've gone to bed.) If you've read my blog for any time at all, you may have realized that I like to examine things. I appreciate so much all of you who chose to examine along with me. You are my comrades, my co-conspirators, my fellow travelers through the madness that is writing. I have nothing but the utmost gratitude and respect for all of you. As always, if you don't see your link or if I've overlooked someone, LET ME KNOW! I want to include everyone. Thank you.
So, my 230-some-odd words on loss. I wrote four different pieces to get to this one. I had to peel back several layers of defenses and I probably could stand to peel a few more. But I wanted to get this done, so I could share the lovely work you all have done.
It hurts in the center of my chest, and when I breathe around it, it leaks out my eyes.
I can't write this. It cuts to the quick and it hurts.
It divides muscle from bone and leaves me a lifeless, spineless heap.
It exposes my useless mask and the skeleton it hides.
We hide our skeletons, not in the closet, but right under our skin.
They prop us up, they keep us walking, keep up the framework of our appearances.
These skeletons aren't hanging out forgotten, underneath out of season clothes, dust bunnies, defunct vacuum cleaners and the shoes I forgot I had. That's not where our skeletons live.
They walk around just under the surface, always there. They hurt and they break us when we bump up against things unexpectedly. Like a picture. Out of the blue, just pops unexpectedly where there was nothing before and you bark your shins or stub your toe.
I didn't stub my toe. It hurts just behind my ribs, that skeleton that covers my heart. Protects it and other soft and vulnerable things. It hurts. The bruise is from the inside. It threatens to burst.
All unnatural, unnerving to see the skeleton on the outside. The little bit of bone, out of place, poking through flesh. It sickens. It must be addressed. It must be healed.
I don't want to write this.