I have a bit of a problem with loss. Not things, I have two primary school aged kids, I’m down with that, I mean people.
In 1994 I watched a movie called ‘The Sum of Us’, and there is a scene, not really related to the rest of the movie at all, where two ‘Spinster Aunts’ are sent off to different nursing homes by their families. The scene is in black and white, and in my memory it has them being torn apart, gnarled hands clutching and trying to hold together, voices wailing as their hearts break open. That scene had me sobbing like it was my hands, my love, my loss.
In 1993 I read ‘Bridges of Madison County’. “Over-stated romantic claptrap”, I hear you say. Not me. I was crying so hard, so vigorously at the sense of loss and injustice at the unrequited love, that I physically couldn’t read it, I was so blurred and bumpy. I even shed a small tear when Clint and Susan portrayed it at the pictures, albeit not as much.
In 1983 I saw ET. You know it: I was a blubbering mess when ET went home. I know, I know, he was ugly. I know, I know, I should have been relieved he was leaving the clutches of Keys and the scientists, but ET. Home. No more Ell-i-ott.
In the late 70s I saw Lassie Come Home at the drive-in. I was beside myself, bawling in the early scenes when Lassie, in fact, did not come home. I can’t remember the rest, I guess it was redemptive and Lassie went on to make many more movies, solve crimes or whatever she did (what did she do?) but I have no recollection of that. All I have is the loss, and the tears, and my Dad trying not to laugh at what a big baby his no-crying daughter was turning out to be.
Because that’s it. I have a no-cry policy, for the most part. If you’ve seen me cry, you’ll know why, it’s not delicate or pretty or endearing at all. It’s all snot and dribble and red eyes and rivulets of mascara. And if I get started I just might not stop. Ever again.
As much as I’m not good with movie loss, I’m not good with actual loss. Particularly death.
I don’t really know how to handle it, so in order to keep my no-cry policy upstanding, I have to trick myself that they are still alive and I’m just not seeing them today. Or the next day, and on and on, forevermore. I try not to think about it too much, but the problem is, I keep getting shocked when the loss hits me.
Today I looked at the teapot BabyMac gave me when Hayls died, and instead of being uplifted and happy to receive such a thoughtful gift, I just cried.
I won’t be having any more cuppas with Hayley. Or my Dad. Or Nath’s Dad. Or Ricki or Jane or Sam or Marjorie or Melby or Jean or Jack or Sandra. The roll-call of the dead.
I have something in my house to remind me of every one of my lost ones. Things that I just can’t throw out.
However, last week I decided I would throw out some of my Dad’s clothes that I scavenged when Mum was ready to let that stuff go. I kept the last things I bought him, I don’t know why that’s what I kept, it’s not as though they were the best of times when he was wearing those last shirts and shorts, but I did. They didn’t smell like him any more, and they were taking up space, so I put them in a bag and took them down to the garage for my next trip to the Salvos. Then I changed my mind and brought them all back up. Then down again. Then back up. I don’t want those clothes any more. They aren’t him, in fact they never were. No trace of him is left on them, but if I don’t keep them, what is there left to mark his place in my life? If I throw them away, will I be throwing away one of my memories?
I’m scared of running out of them.
And I have a bit of a problem with loss.