Letter to Loss

22 July 2012

Dear Loss

How complicated you are – you heinous thing – that thing which I have felt so much of in my life.  And yet I call this a ‘love’ letter … So, Dear Loss, let me explain, expand and elaborate …

I woke up this morning with a sense of creeping dread.  My mother died 6 days ago and in another 4 days comes her funeral.  My mother’s funeral … As my senses came to, on the morning of this day, I was permeated with the weight of horror and fear.  And then the vile bile of anger took me over …

Yes, anger pushed its’ fist into my heart, because I invited people to join me at my mother’s service and there is, so far, silence … apparently no one is coming … Then that evil, chiding voice says to me “So … those people who share your happy existence don’t give a damn about your sad times – your life is clearly a sham …”

Now in my innermost and knowing self, I realise that this voice takes over and holds you in it’s terrible thrall, especially at times like this; and it takes you down a long tunnel, where you stumble, blindly in the darkness and you cannot see what you actually have – which is – in day light reality – so very much …

The fact is, if I really choose to count, there are two particular people who it is my dearest wish be there on that Farewell Funeral Day – those being my brother and my mother’s best friend.  And of course, there will be more: friends, family, my mother’s circle … Some to bid farewell and some come to support me. And suddenly it comes back to me, in clear consciousness, what I always knew – that ten people or one hundred – if for no other reason than that is how it is, they will be the perfect ones to be there …

My own sense of significance and drama had briefly demanded more attention … Yet my mother’s passing will be marked, as we – the living – need to demarcate such turning points in our lives – to focus our loss on, and provide the means to say farewell, so we can move onwards in our own living time.  And for me the most impelling cause for a funeral is to celebrate a life having been lived, a life which has been part of your life.  There are many ancient reasons why, even in this electronic and eclectic modern age, we practice such ceremonies around birth, marriage and death …

This limbo between time from death to funeral is extreme and emotional, it has shifted the axis of my world – so my demons come out to dance on my dreams and dine on my exposed flesh.  I name and recognise these satanic creatures, and then I choose instead, to dance with the angels.

You see there I was with the expectation of attention and response.  Yet I know that there are many reasons why people do not reply and do not come, and how I feel about this is my own business – it is purely my own response to what I have put out there (which is after all an invitation, not a demand) and is in no way provoked by any one else.  And then I know that so often I have a choice about how I can feel … so having wallowed in my fear and anger, I have now let it go.  It is part of my process of processing what has happened; and now, at this time of writing, I am in a quiet space of reflection and acceptance that it will all be as it should.  This newer, positive sense comes from the pure me, the one who chooses the path of light, not the tunnel.  And verily, the dark demon of negativity still grabs me and tries to drag me down that tunnel; but I know, always, there is light at the end of it.

And we all do what we can, with what we’ve got … I had thunderbolt moment about this when someone called me to offer her support and condolences … she is going through her own very tough times at the moment, and she recalled all the offers people give at these trying times … to be there if asked … to do anything for you – if asked; and the thing is, usually no one does ask …  Well now, she said, she had decided to do SOMETHING … as much as she could manage right then, which was to offer me ‘a cuddle and cuppa’.  And I was so touched and it was a wake up call for me … me, who so many times has said, ‘just let me know if you want anything’ and then leaves it at intention … because I don’t want to intrude, or I’m busy, or my own life takes over or it’s not a priority.

And all these things are valid in their season … but may be, just may be, we could just all pause and wonder what we can do ‘beyond the words’, beyond our own small worlds, at times like these; and if that is sending our love and good wishes, then good … Yet, just for now, please support me in expanding my own horizons by considering the possibility of doing a thing, of actually paying it forward, as well as sending out a possible promise …

And I have received many such treasures in this limbo time … so much love, so much support, hugs, dinners, biscuits, transport, company and conversations.  And people have created time and space to be with me … So there it all is, in reality – all in balance; and yet, still – so fleetingly, I felt neglected – when really, I am getting exactly the attention that I need … And I want to say thank you to everyone who has given to me in any and every way, in these few last days.  I receive what you gift, so very gratefully.

So the emotional complications of my personality unfurl some more: triggered and exaggerated by sudden loss.  I kick over the implications, then I cuddle them. I give breath to the evil and the enervating, then I can reconcile the consequences and realise that these leanings are my lessons.

It comes down to this … This is a love letter to loss.  And it is a love letter in the sense that I appreciate and celebrate how this whole experience has ‘opened me out’, and how such trying times can, if we choose, alter us in positive and unimaginable ways.  And having started with anger and tears, I realise now, with humility and clarity, just how much I actually have – even when this weird day started with me swimming through the lake of my loss. And this letter may be the ramblings of a grieving child or it will be what ever it will be to its reader and what ever that is, I am good with it …

Then this letter starts to wind down … and one of the many reasons it is addressed to ‘Loss’ is that my inner poet loves the alliteration of all the Ls in a ‘Love Letter to Loss’ …

And so it is now, that I go from loss to love.  I end this letter with a salutation to loss and all the unbidden treasures that it has given me.  I do not in all honesty welcome it, yet I do intend to learn from it.  And last of all, and most of all, I raise my glass – every time: to Love …

Yours trustingly,


PS: Thank you for sharing this letter with me.  My mother passed away on 16 July 2012.  She was diagnosed with a condition called Parkinson’s Disease and if you could donate something to the organisation that funds research and support for this disorder, I would be very grateful for yet more gifts bestowed …  You can give online here …

Letter 11: To the Lost Lover

11 February 2012

Dear Lost Love

I waited, not always so patiently for you to come to me … Over years, over tears, over dreams. Tumbling desires, stumbling steps taken halteringly towards you. False starts, then true strides to the man, to the one, to the lover, the faithful friend, the father, the sharer.

You’ve worn different faces, yet the end result was the same … a heart open, a heart broken, first by me and then, squarely, by you. Loving and unloved. True love and passion and comfort and life long togetherness, blessed … But not for ever blessed; tested and turned instead.

Why have you not seen me, fully? You saw me, were dazzled, then blinded … Why my lover, why is that my story, what purpose could that possibly serve?

It is not my karma to be left bereft, alone – I was born to love, born to fly. So is that my dichotomy? I cannot love AND fly? Why not ..? I want it ALL. So it seems my Icarus wings melt and I fall to the sea; I bide my time, build my wings and soar skywards again and again, oh and again. Gliding, coasting, heading for supersonic space and instead falling back down to earth – grave and gravity drawn.

So I left you and left you again and then I decided there could be no more leaving … Leaving was a far greater pain than the stain of staying. So I said I must change and change I did. I did everything to stay and then YOU turned me away … Once and then again – and I was so wounded, so rejected. So I took me to a nunnery. I stayed out of your path. I travelled to wisdom, I healed, I learned the lore of love. I listened I prepared … I waited.

Then I started the final journey towards you, slower, waiting, calling you softly, whispering to you as I waited … Composing a symphony of love, writing a lexicon of our life. Then the time for you came closer and I started to glimpse you in odd and twisted guises … trying you, testing you, discarding and ignoring the impure pre-versions of you.

And then it was your time. And you knew me, you heard me and I waited coyly, so sure of the outcome. You had heard my music, came to my clarion call. I knew your face, your words and, as I called you with song, so you spoke to me and wooed me in song too and told me of your love, before you would speak the words, in an Avatar.

So I was sure and certain – my call was answered, I knew your love words and heart promises before they were spoken. You breathed love before we cleaved. We wove, we danced, we dived, we planned. We fitted, allostericly locking into each other’s lives.

My life turned on you. I depended on you for the change; we wove a fabric of family and connection, love, praise and cohesion. A ring bound our promises and committed us to our forever future.

And I was free of my former life, now part mother, part counsellor, all lover, all me – too free.

Amazing love, sparks, passion, laughter, life bound together. There is nothing on this earth that can touch that time; that time that has cost so much and yet changed so little, when all is said and done, in the final analysis and yet strangely, it changed everything …

Then just one argument, just several words played. Forgotten by me, picked on and used by you. Festered on and faltering, heart altering, shattering, trashing, destroying.

So you were not mine to keep, my lost lover, not mine to treasure, to keep for ever. A rock crumbled, the footing lost, no anchor. Instead a missile, throwing me to your very own wolves, serving me up to your demons of rejection and fear and lack. You were first dazzled by me and then cruelly blind to me. Love now a four letter word … pain always a four letter word.

My heart could not hear your words. “Why why why?” – I cried to heart hardened ears – both yours and God’s. Why? When I had waited so long for you, I had served my time, I had learnt my love lessons, I was the best me I could ever be. Why? It was sheer insanity and death and grief and pain.

And life lives on, lungs still breath, the heart in so much stiffened pain, still beats. The sun shines again and there is laughter, there is the home of your own heart, with it’s infinite capacity for healing and it’s wanting to love and keep loving. There is a wisdom learnt, an ability to grow and cope and eventually to accept what passeth beyond your understanding.

Acceptance was so hard, so un-vindicated. Heaven could not wait, it seemed for me. It was a wrong doing, a divine mistake, wantonly and cruelly created. Why? To punish, to balance, to teach?  To push me back to square one, alone? For what purpose God? Why that cruel blow?

So I had to die, again, harder – to live again, more. To be more me, to shine freely and unfettered. To let you go … To create a new attachment, a thin umbilical cord, stuffed with love, letting go love, the cord getting thinner and thinner through to breaking point. We cannot ever completely be detached … you must know that …

Now it is a new year, a new me. I choose to cast my stones of intention and keep loving and moving to my light.  Now lost lover, I let you go – lovingly, to your own future without me and yet carrying a piece of me with you, for ever impacted, no matter how you try to eradicate.

You are lost to me and you were love to me and now you are past to me. We had our time and it was right that it was then.  So no regrets.  This is now, this is our tomorrow. Let’s go beyond our love, let’s do more, soar more, find our true freedom.  We are all done now, we are good now.

     So good bye lost lover and fare thee well.

          S x

[PS: Dear Reader, we always have love and to help to keep it and create it, you can buy your own copy of the complete book of letters by following this link…]

Letter 7: To John

7 February 2012

Dear John

‘Dear John’ – that phrase in the world of cliché means the beginning of a ‘good bye’.  Yet this time, for me, this is the beginning of a hello, a getting in touch, a getting to know you, to connect with you and so to deepen the connection with myself and to understand the role you have played in my life.

Do you know me John, your sister, the one that came after you?  You had so little time in this living realm, a tiny baby born early, who breathed this side of the womb for 2 days only.

Your passing was a pain, a grief, a darkness that reached into my time, born as I was, 5 years later.  I always knew about you – and our mother told me that not one day went by when she did not think of you.   And in tears and arguments, your memory would surface and be tossed around by our parents, a turmoil unresolved, unforgiven, never forgotten.

It’s a dark place John, to think of the pain and torment of your passing, so let me pass back to the realms of love and dreams and consequence …

We have a living brother of course, two years older still than you; and in my dreams I have seen you, another version of my family … familiar and yet separate.

So you were a fascination to me, part of my puzzle, a missing strand of DNA.  And as a child I often imagined how you would be, if you walked in this world.

And I have realised over time that had you stayed in this world, then I probably would not be here, as I am, in this form, in this living plane of being.  So I thank you John and it’s a complicated thank you, for your part in who I am.  And because of your passing and my safe and happy arrival; my parents were so over-joyed to welcome me when my time came to enter this world.  And separately they have both told me that I was their saviour, angel child, which feels like a beautiful privilege sometimes and at other darker times, an expectation I have felt I simply couldn’t live up to.

You were named John for our grandfather – our mother’s father.  Another John gone before I was born, another John not known by me.  Though for this John I have photographs, stories and a history …  This John stands in line in our parent’s wedding photos and his physical features sometimes reveal themselves in the living descendants that are my familiars.  This John is part of our Scottish heritage and so Grandpa John was known as ‘Jock’.  And I can only guess at what other inheritances we have all got from him.  I would love to explore that part of my past puzzle one day if I can …

And one of the many legends of Grandpa John is that he had another family, one that came after my mother; the fact of which was scandal at the time.  So my mother would say that she is an only child and so she was in fact until her mid 20s.  In recent years she has sought to know her later siblings – a half brother and sister and so I have traced the pieces of paper that would link us to them.

But what comes next?  Do they know of us?  Do they know they have a sister, niece and nephew?  And here’s the thing too, my (half) uncle out there, some where, is also John, named for Grandpa John too – and takes his first name AND his surname.

Another John not known to me, now old enough to be retired … is he still alive, does he have his own family, what did he do with his life?  Could he be a piece of the puzzle that fits, or could he care less?  I stopped the search because my mother, his half sister, became ill and needed our attention and now, further down that line, for many reasons, I’m not sure whether to pick it up again.

What ever the case, I am trusting that this John lives and loves and laughs.  And of my three Johns – brother, grand father and uncle; it is Uncle John who comes into my mind most of all, now I’m at this time in my life.  My father gave us an uncle and two aunts who have all left this world now, so it’s good to know that there is more family out there and maybe, at the end of this letter, that’s all I need to know about them.

We all have our legacies, our legends and live with the consequences of love – our own loves and the love that was created by those who went before us.  In the final analysis I want to connect to the love, live and breath it in every form and on that note I will bid all my Johns, for now, a very fond farewell.

    With love from Sandra xxx

PS: Thanks go to my brother and mother who agreed to let this letter be seen and for reminding me that when I was in my pram, we used to visit my brother John’s tiny grave.  A connection unremembered … and one for which I am grateful.   S x

[PPS: Dear Reader, this letter and more are now published in book form, you can buy your copy by following this link…]

Grandpa John, a face known and unknown …