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A LESSON IN overcoming LOSS...

Updated on June 19, 2015

Ashes to ashes...

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Dust to dust...

Someday soon (sooner than you think) you will tell your story about this tragedy that you are now living, and it will seem like it happened so long ago, it surely was a different lifetime. How wise you are to realize the sad truth of your family pets, being the irreplaceable factor; but the memory of this period in time, shall also stand the test of time, as it is burned into your hearts as permanently as the fire that consumed your shelter, your comfort, and worldly possessions. Your pets will live on as legends! Eventually you will BELIEVE the words you say, that your loss of material objects are just "things" that can be replaced, that you are all lucky to be alive. You might even giggle that you have rid yourself of clutter! Stop everything you are completely engrossed in at the moment, run out and buy yourself a journal, and record every step in your journey. Write down the details, the emotions and expressions of your children, your husband, and certainly your own. Write down the random acts of kindness from your community, schools, church and neighbors (no longer strangers) that have touched all of you in so many ways. Write down the joy of obtaining a new toothbrush (you probably said it was long overdue anyway!) Write down the order in which you slowly replace the necessities of life and I will make you a promise--Your tragedy is a blessing in disguise. It will one day be a masterpiece of love and life and learning to remind you of all you have to be grateful for. You will forever be bound as a family that can endure, that can overcome, that can get through anything! You, my dear friend, have been blessed!

I have walked a mile in your shoes...

You may find that the love in your life is broader than you ever imagined, that each of you might miss things, and these things might seem insignificant, but rest assured, they are not. My daughter was half a year past three on the day she stood with her only possessions draped over her tiny frame. All she could talk about was the injustice of losing her beloved Barbie™ Dream House. Four years later, the sting is as present as it was the day it happened. This Christmas, she received her fifth version of Barbie's™ ever-changing dream and still, the wallpaper was not the same pattern, the added hot tub was all wrong. It took me four years and five Barbie™-Freakin'-Dream-Houses to realize that some things simply cannot be replaced. Truth be told, she never wanted it to be replaced. She had managed to etch that memory, every detail of that dream of a house, into her little brain. She held tighter to it than paper to a wall. Finally, it dawned on me, that it was the only thing she complained about missing, because she was holding on to a memory. It is perfectly okay to miss it. It is her way of remembering a former place and time in her life! It is the catch-all of a terrifying event. My exhausting attempts to fill the void, to heal the wound, to make it all better, were feeble (at best) and my now eight year old daughter taught her old mom a lesson... The one thing that can never be replaced, are the memories. We can add to them, snap a photo to record a moment, but those moments are somewhat arbitrary. We fill in the gaps with our hearts and our minds.

1st Holiday...
1st Holiday...
A year later...
A year later...
Our gratitude tree! (We still put up every year to remind us that "stuff" is just that... and we don't need "stuff" to be happy!)
Our gratitude tree! (We still put up every year to remind us that "stuff" is just that... and we don't need "stuff" to be happy!)

Nostalgia kicks in...

Someday (sooner than you think) you will look at an old picture at your sister's house and notice things you didn't notice before, even though you have seen that photo a thousand times. It might be a painting on the wall, just a little crooked, behind the smiling faces in the photo, a former favorite sweater you were wearing that went perfectly with a pair of timeless leather boots, or the bowl sitting on the cherry sidetable just behind the child's big grin. You will notice things in the background, and realize, that you forgot to miss them. You will remember, how much you liked that bowl, that painting, that sweater, and heck, those great boots... that you forgot to miss.

Every holiday when we break out the decorations, we feel a nostalgia from years past that warms us to the core, and my "DreamHouse" was my Christmas ornaments. Every year, as a child, we would add five or six ornaments, chosen with care, from our local Farmer's Market Christmas Bazaar that is as magical at forty as it was at four. It was a tradition that I loved as a child, and carried forward to my own. When my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer, at her insistance, I picked a few from her collection, and demanded to wait to split the bulk with my sister. I am thankful for that decision, for the few that I had selected were now lost in the wind. The ornaments were the things I genuinely missed, because they allowed me to remember, to feel nostalgia. Necessity as the master of invention has led to a new tradition for my small family. We walk the same path, visit the same magical market, and fervently hunt to find replicas, or rather, a token that reminds us of the originals, a recollection of a memory of the old. The pleasure of remembering the old elf with the round belly (now seems villainous in comparison to the modern version), the velvet soldier made from a clothes pin, the metal Santa Claus that had been hung on our tree for as long as my memory can stretch, the tiny plastic apple that always seemed to be the last ornament to pack up (nearly forgotten, as the tree is dragged to the curb.) A tangible item that takes you to a single moment in your past.

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Allowing melancholy...

My sister reminds me faithfully that she still has all of mom's ornaments, and that I am entitled to whichever ones I would like to have. There were so many. She offers to send them to me, as an easy fix, every year, and I remain consistent in my dismissal. This year, I am wiser. This year, I will provide an adequate response in lieu of refusal. It's okay to miss things, especially the things that evoke a specific moment, a vivid memory, a smell that gives you a feeling of nostalgia. They can't be replaced, so I won't waste my time trying, but rather, allow myself the melancholy in missing them. For I, am as wise as my eight year old.

Barbie's Ever-Changing Dream...

© 2015 Molli Anne

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