I read the comments on my recent blog post and wondered, How many possibilities have I lost?
This internal question slammed into my chest and the density of fear, of impotent inaction, made my heart thud. This response is not the usual spasm of self-doubt or shame. This was much stronger; this was loss.
I had that book. I bought it, then gave it away without considering it. Now, another blogger says it has been her patient guide through a writing life. What possibility did I miss?
But it seemed so small and obscure. Why might this matter?
My thoughts scanned past events for an answer and I remembered that important diversity event missed because I felt overwhelmed emotionally, was behind in my evaluations, and the chaos of paper mangement had set in so substantially that I was hiding piles of paper in filing cabinets under some persistent delusion that I would organize it all “in the summer”. But, if I’m really honest with myself, I missed it because my armour was slipping and bits of my brokenness were poking through.
That day that my mother moved out of the family house, when I was fifteen, I remember because the sky was bright and sunlight filled the front room as my father and mother lifted her suitcases and belongings out the front door, his rearend propping open the aluminum screen door as she moved in quick spurts of fastideousness, rushing the unusual departure, but brows still furrowed and firm. I went back to my room and lay on my bed, which was made up for the first time in a while. Both arms were outstretched behind me resting my head in my hands. I knew that I should feel something, scanned for evidence, but came up empty.
The years passed and we carried on after this loss mostly as usual though I was beginning to run wild. My father is a man of few words and he has rarely ever commanded and demanded. One day from nowhere, he asked me what I wanted to do after high school, and I said I was thinking of becoming a childcare worker. He spat a response; “why don’t you become a doctor or a dentist!” This novel outburst fractured my seventeen year old dismissive veneer. And I felt empty. Not because I was committed to the field of caregiving, because in truth, this idea had only just floated into me from some invisible force of popular culture like a dandelion seed planting wild thoughts of a future I could not imagine. Ideas rooted in soil that was not tended. She had been gone for nearly three years at this point, and he was a good father, but he was at a loss.
I woke up this morning and wondered how many of us are now at a loss, chronicaling missed ouropportunities, or thinking that maybe now, in so much absence, we might see a way to reconcile, to release and let go of past practices which have not worked for so many. Today, scrolling social media was a grief-laden endeavour, so I shifted my focus and decided to listen to voices of possibility and potential. I needed something to move me past passivity and inaction. The wisdom and powerful words of Tarana Burke and Brene Brown in an episode of “Unlocking Us” had me captivated. She once said,
“If I found a healing tree in my backyard, and it grew some sort of fruit that was a healing balm for people to repair what was damaged, I’m not going to just harvest all of those fruits and say, ‘You can’t have this.’ If I have a cure for people, I’m going to share it.”
The grieving for the losses began a transformation as if something was grafted onto me, a twisted and gnarly stem still growing through the losses both within and without.