The hardest thing about losing things is the questions.
” Do you remember where you had it last?”
Well of course you don't otherwise upon hearing this question, you would go back to that sink counter in the bathroom of the Peruvian restaurant and there it would be – your favorite hammered silver ring, waiting for you just where you left it.
“Why don't you retrace your steps?”
Sure, just wheel backwards and follow the tire tracks until you roll over that black cashmere sweater - the one that goes with everything. Or…
“Why don't you just pick a designated spot for your keys and keep them there? Then you won't lose them.”
Sigh. Because they’re keys, aren't they . By their very nature they must be moved around or you will be locked out of life. And the questions never make any sense, because when you lose things, you're not going to live backwards in time, calmly and dispassionately, like Mr. Spock. You're going to frantically scurry, like an animal trapped in a cage, pacing from corner to corner, desperately trying to retrieve what you've lost.
But not when you lose the big things. There's an eerie calm that comes over you when you lose the unthinkable. You neither retrace your steps nor think about the last time, because it's too unbearable. The last time you'll ever eat sushi, alone in a restaurant with your son. No matter how many times you think about that last time, it’s still lost. When you lose big things, you understand that. You breathe deeply and you try to find a ballast, something to hold on to so that you can sustain the next loss and the next loss and the next one.
Everybody jokes about where the lost socks go. Did the sock monster take them? Is there a sock island where they all congregate? Is there some cad making black market sock monkeys out of socks they’ve pilfered from people' s dryers? You could swear you put socks in there, in pairs, and you come out with a bunch of single useless fucking socks. Imagine, a pile of all the socks that you lost in your whole life. Then imagine that instead of socks those socks are the things that you find most important to you: walking, eating, talking, breathing. And imagine watching that pile grow bigger and bigger until you can't look anywhere in the room without seeing that accumulation of losses. That's what my bad moments feel like.
I said goodbye to Mac not knowing if we would ever go out alone together to eat again, because I can't really feed myself and I don't want him to have to do that. I said goodbye to him not knowing if I could ever watch a movie alone with him again, because it's too hard to try to shimmy myself onto the toilet without help. I said goodbye to him not knowing if when he comes back at winter break, my voice will be intelligible. It's almost too much to bear. I can't really describe it to you. It's just this primal, animal-like grief and that panicky noise you hear inside your head when you don't remember where you put your keys and you've lost the directions for a job interview or the soccer car pool for which you’re late. Only louder. Much louder. It goes to 11.
The hardest part of losing things is not the realization that you never appreciated what you had. It's the very deep understanding that you always did appreciate it, that you were worthy of it, and you still lost it. And somehow, you have to keep going. And you have to keep losing, and you can't give up until you've lost everything. I'm proud that I always knew it was a gift to sing, to be with my friends, and I'm proud that I loved every goddamn minute with my beautiful son. I don't know if that makes this harder or easier. Or it just is.