Tuesday morning, I saw the magenta tracks under my eyes.
I looked closer, wondering what on earth those were. It took a few zoomed-in looks to realize they were broken blood vessels. Lots of them. I hadn’t seen that many on my face in ages — since I birthed three babies. So what were they doing mingling with my morning bags?
Then I remembered the crying I did the night before. Violent crying, from the evidence.
Monday night, I worked to finish Tuesday morning’s blog post. Normally a morning and daytime writer, tapping the keys after an incredibly long, full day of mommy-dom took it out of me. I felt tired, but determined, so I kept going, even though all I really wanted was a book and the comfort of my pillow.
At about 10:30, I finally finished writing and editing the post. Slouched under my comforter, I tapped “Update” on the iPad screen. At which point, said iPad blanked and flashed to the home screen.
I entered back into the program and saw that the last 30 to 40 minutes of fast and furious typing were gone. Gone with the words was the sacrifice of time and energy I didn’t feel I had for a piece that started as an ode to our new vacuum, Vivian (and morphed, to my great surprise, into a 1200+ word piece on vulnerability, community and cleaning emotional house).
I rushed downstairs and tried to retrieve the most recent version from our computer. I swore a blue streak and hoped girls in PJ’s would not peek around the corner. I cried miserably to my husband, all the while feeling angry he could not help me bring it back. I prayed, wailed, pounded my fists. I tried to figure out what I’d done wrong.
Part of me realized my reaction was likely disproportionate to what was lost, but it was loss, and I was feeling it, and I couldn’t stop feeling it.
I’ve heard it said that loss is loss, pain is pain, and on one hand I agree. Trying to categorize pain creates a slippery slope where some feel like they shouldn’t be feeling what they’re feeling, that whatever it is shouldn’t be a big deal, though sometimes it just is. Hurt and loss affect us all differently for so many reasons.
Regardless, we all know the big losses — the ones that tear through and leave gaping holes. The losses that fill nightmares and real lives around us. The losses we never get over. The losses we pray never happen to us or anyone we know. And the losses to which most of us are never exposed, living as we do, in relation to the rest of the world, people of privilege.
But as I began to calm Monday night, I realized this small loss clearly was tapping something deeper. The way stubbing your toe can make the world suddenly seem far too hard. Or the way a movie or book can awaken long-ago sorrow.
Certainly things of this sort are matters of degree, but I wondered — eyes wide open at 11 p.m. — what my loss of some words on a screen may have in common with losses that undo on a prolonged and life-changing scale.
As I sought some answers, I recognized at least a few common threads. Though I’m still sorting this out, I know that in my life’s losses I’ve experienced:
awareness of a complete lack of control and a pained longing for the loss to have not been,
anger and sadness — at times separate and at others, intermingled,
the desire to blame,
nagging feelings that I could have done something differently,
grief at what seems pointless waste,
replaying of the loss over and over again,
ache for full resolution and completion that lives beyond this life.
So many of you have known volumes of loss. You’ve touched it and mulled it, hated it and accepted it, avoided it and closed off parts of your heart to it. And then you’ve seen your broken heart rebuilt with new pieces you’d never have chosen in the first place.
In this life, we can know pain and loss (both the everyday and the world-altering) are constants. God tells us it will be so until we join him.
Today, I’m still thinking about how everyday sorrows prepare us or inform us about bigger losses. What are your thoughts? Have you experienced new compassion for yourself or others through your own journeys of loss? Have you seen gratitude as part of the bridge between loss and meaning? Are you still in the thick of it? Please consider sharing in this space today.