Tag Archives: loss

Going Home

My husband and I sat on our back patio rocking in two white wooden chairs, bought solely on a whim. That whim has led to countless hours of talking and talking while the sky gradually fades and our children spin webs on their scooters around us. The air seeps into our skin and we rock and rock.

This week we were discussing life’s burdens. It was puncutated with comments concerning a tragedy a family we know experienced this last week. A driver, suspected of being drunk, went over the median line and smashed into their car. The Father was driving with his three kids. Today, as I post this, will be the day of Katie’s funeral. She was fifteen-years old. She was a happy person who wore giant black-rimmed glasses and an infectious grin. We couldn’t imagine the pain they must be carrying.

As I rocked, I looked down between my feet and noticed a brown ant. In its mouth was a third of a much larger bug’s body with wings still attached. The ant had set its burden down, circled round, found the trail, and then picked up his dinner and continued on. I was mezmerized. “Look, Jim,” I said, “How far do you think this ant is going to carry that? The length of our patio must be like crossing the Sahara desert for him.”

We watched the ant walk another five feet before it came to a step down about eight inches high. The ant did not stop – it and its burden went over the edge and it picked up walking right where it fell. “That’s amazing! That would be like a 100-foot drop to a human,” Jim said.

We rocked on and watched the drama. The ant kept losing its way, dropping the bug, circling, smelling, and then picking it back up to carry on. Over and over and on and on it went. Eight more feet took ten minutes.

I could see the colony in a deep crack about three feet away. “Home is just over there!” I got up and followed the ant, egging it on. “You’re almost there!” Quite suddenly, the ant dropped the bug and dashed toward home. After “miles” of carrying it, the burden seemed not to be worth the trouble anymore when home was in sight. When he entered the crack, his family swarmed over him.

I was frustrated – sad – disappointed in watching this entire journey and nature’s struggle to only see the ant “give up.” I voiced my opinion strongly. “All that carrying, for what? He didn’t bring it home with him. There’s no reward waiting and everyone cheering and sitting down to a meal!”

Jim wisely suggested that I was missing the point. When we are in sight of our real home, we don’t have to carry our burdens anymore. We recognize they just cause us to lose our way and they become meaningless. The reward is arriving home to waiting friends and family and being burdenless when you do it is even better.

Katie’s death this week has helped me see a glimpse that home is closer than we think. The ant has reminded me to drop my burdens and give them to the Lord. We never know when we are going to arrive.

If you would feel inclined to contribute to Katie’s family for medical expenses and funeral costs, the link is here: Katie Hancock

The Crossing, by B. Michael Radburn

There are questions and recommendation-seeking after the review – please join in the discussion!

It was the first snow Taylor had seen since his transfer to Tasmania, and he didn’t much care for it. After seven years on the mainland with National Parks & Wildlife, he’d spent the last three in the snowfields and high country of Victoria. It was a dream job for any ranger, but that was before losing Claire. She was eight years old then. It was a year ago to the day. Taylor clenched his jaw as something trembled deep within him. Something more than grief. Something more than heartache, like a treasured memory dying.

Life can turn on a penny, his father used to say.

‘Amen, Dad,’ Taylor whispered, the sound of his voice loud in the silent cottage.

The Crossing (Australian author B. Michael Radburn’s debut) is a moody, painful exploration into a father’s grief, and his sudden determination to find a little girl gone missing in his small isolated town – a town slowly being swallowed by a newly built dam.

While reading The Crossing, I found myself gripping the pages tightly (sorry, local library!) in parts of the tale, my hope and anxiety matching those of Taylor, the sorrow ridden father, as he fought his own exhaustion and nightmares to search for the missing girl. At other times, the portrayal of mourning was communicated so painfully it had me holding the book carefully to my chest as I tried to slow my breathing and dry my eyes. The Crossing evokes not only the Tasmanian country beautifully, but also the dense, lonely inner world of Taylor and the intricacies of other characters. Radburn deftly combines the changing landscape, the residents’ own shadows, secrets and Taylor’s mourning into a tale as haunting, fascinating and deep as the approaching watery quiet. There is humour, love and loyalty in The Crossing as well, leading the reader into considering things lost, found, and still hoped for.

(The Crossing is available in hard-copy through Australian stores – many of which post internationally- or electronically through Amazon or Apple. Go here for the first chapter sample).

Which works of fiction have captured grieving, sorrow or sadness perfectly heartwrenchingly for you? 

Do you avoid certain themes – such as in this book, missing children – in your reading? If so, which themes, and why?

Does a book being set in a different country increase or quell your interest?

Sympathy, Faith and a Tricycle

My tricycle“The last time I saw you,” she sighed, staring at an afternoon decades ago, “you were wearing a little shirt with a pocket on the chest, and a nappy, and I took you straight off ya Mum and walked down the back of the yard. We had a look at the animals, and you put ya head down on my shoulder. It was a few weeks until Christmas, and..” she paused, puffing out her cheeks before starting again, “.. ya Mum said she’d bring you back then to get your presents.” She pushed at the tablecloth, straightening wrinkles and bumps into temporary submission. She heaved in a breath, looked up to meet my gaze, blinking against the tears falling into the creases of her face. “I didn’t see you again. I didn’t even know if you was dead. Nothing.”

“Oh I’ve missed you,” she choked out. “I never forgot you. Never stopped loving you. Not ever. Not a single day without wondering where you were and if you were okay.”

This was my grandmother; a woman whom I didn’t even know existed until two months earlier. But I could see my face reflected in hers, and finally had a physical, genetic explanation of where my red hair and curves came from. It was our first weekend together (that I could remember), and we stared hungrily at each other’s face, asked questions and tried to fill in the enormous, bewildering gap of over two decades of life (and deaths and marriages, babies, successes and heartbreak) we had lived without knowledge of the other’s experiences.

Over and over again my Nan would say the same phrases, and still does whenever we talk. “I never forgot ya. Never stopped loving ya. Not ever. Not a single day without wondering where you were and if you was okay. It broke my heart.”  I don’t doubt it hurt her. My biological Dad and his siblings have told me of her grief, of their eventual insistence that she not speak of me in their hearing because of the pain it caused all of them. I couldn’t imagine what it meant, or felt like, to lose a granddaughter – the first grandbaby born to the family – in such a sudden, inexplicable and deliberate way. Continue reading

Sad

Our little pet rabbit died today.

It’s been a tough afternoon, and all of the post ideas I had floating around in my mind seem flat and unimportant. Ironic, because to most people the death of a pet sounds flat and unimportant.

But here in the four walls of our universe, it’s our own small tragedy. We got him for Christmas, so we’ve had him for almost eight months. We watched him grow from a tiny fluff ball into a big fluff ball. We loved it when he did a “binky”—a random, springy jump that is a rabbit expression of joy.

Last night he was fine. This morning he was sick. This afternoon he died. Continue reading

Feeling the Loss

One of the things I love the most about participating in a faith is the sense of optimism it provides–the glass-half-full outlook that assures us that even when life is hard, God has the power to consecrate our afflictions for our gain (2 Nephi 2:2). As C.S. Lewis stated, “God can make good of all that happens.”

There is great power in the capacity to find meaning in what seems like senseless pain, the ability to see the fire of affliction as a refining force rather than a destructive one.

Yet it is the second half of Lewis’ statement that has had me thinking lately, and wondering how it relates to my faith: “God can make good of all that happens. But the loss is real.” *

The loss is real. Continue reading