Over the last week or two, I’ve been touched by stories of loss, some from and about people I don’t know directly, some from people I care about but don’t know well, and some from or about people I am deeply attached to. The experience of loss and grief comes from the limiting or end of some dream of action in the world, whether caused by disability, illness, rejection, or death. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the stories of loss and grief are also stories of survival, living, creating, loving, holding others in relationship. These aspects of the stories – sometimes they are the main stories themselves – are about fierce loving, clear-eyed pleasure (whether sensuous, relational, intellectual…), resonating laughter, and so on. Other aspects of the stories, again sometimes themselves the main threads, are about anger, worry, depression, solitude, fear, futility.
These are your stories, these are my stories: sometimes they are more your stories than mine; sometimes they are our stories. Sometimes it is our story because you pull me into the story; sometimes it is our story because it is my story also, perhaps from the past, possibly from the future; and sometimes it is our story because it has to be our story, you can’t separate it from me, and I can’t separate myself from it.
So, as I look forward to Thanksgiving which I have learned to enjoy as a time of gathering, though this year we won’t celebrate it as Thanksgiving per se – no turkey decorations, no cranberry sauce, no marshmallows with sweet potatoes – but will be celebrating life and family with my German kin, I’m thinking about how to hold loss and life fully. When loss is not immediate, but could be, at any time. My mind boggles. My heart sort-of avoids the question. Or is it avoiding the question? Perhaps the question side-steps living fully. If I just live, including celebration, loss will have its place in there, perhaps not obviously, perhaps not comfortably, but integrated.