Tuesday, August 7, 2018


I’ve been thinking a lot about loss since my little dog, Chloe, back in NY suddenly lost her eyesight.

Darkness is something I feared my entire life. I was the classic scaredy cat as a little girl. I think I slept with my mom until I was a teenager. I remember always harping on my mom to get remarried. I used to love to listen to her tell the story of how on the rare occasion I had a sleep over, my friend and I would wake up and go through the classifieds looking for the perfect man for her to remarry. Remember the personal ads of the 70’s and 80’s?

 “Single non smoking male seeking single female 40-45 for adventure and companionship.” 

 My mom used to repeatedly tell me that she didn’t want a man, but that didn’t matter to me. I wanted her to have a man. I so desperately wanted a family that looked like the ones all my other friends had.

She used to say she cured me from my wish the day she finally agreed to remarry. She simply told me that after she got remarried she would need to sleep with her husband and I would need to sleep in my own bed.

I never mentioned it again.

Yep. I was that big of a scaredy cat.

In my mind I keep thinking about what it must be like to lose something as fundamental as eyesight. What would it be like to suddenly live in the darkness I feared my whole life? Do you ever stop feeling startled and scared initially when approached by someone or something you can’t see coming?

Lately I’ve been experiencing a different kind of loss. When I moved to the West Coast, I only packed up the essentials that would fit in my 2004 Toyota Highlander. I told myself that I’m a minimalist anyway. Everyone who knows me, says that about me. I’m not one to save and save. If I have an extra coffee pot, it drives me nuts to let it sit idle thinking someone else might need it. I’m not sure where this came from now that I think of it. This was so different from how I was raised. My mom saved everything. You kept the extra in case the original broke. I’m guessing this came from her childhood of living a level of poverty I cannot even imagine. When she pulled herself up from poverty to poor to lower middle class finally, she held on tight.

When I look at it that way, I think to myself, what a survivor my mom was. I admire her strength in so many ways. But back when I was younger, I had a very different perspective. I was blind to her past and who she was because of it. I judged her in my mind. I saw it more selfishly and negatively through my own lens. The simple fact that she was unable to meet all of my needs, defined her in my mind.

I often wish my mom were here so I could free her from my simplistic narrow minded view of her. She was so much more than I ever saw. I wish she were here so I could reach out my hand and help her stand up, in much of the same way I am trying to, as a strong, flawed woman and mother who did the best she could.

But she’s gone now. And that’s a loss of a different kind. It’s easier to sort through the loss of all the stuff I left behind that didn’t fit in my Highlander anyway.

These days I find myself longing for familiarity. My daughter reminded me of how I used to cover myself with the same black velour blanket and Chloe would curl up in the crease of my bent legs, her head on top of my knee and the blanket. This was our little routine years ago, the first time I found myself living alone as an adult woman.

At first it made me miss the blanket. And then that made me miss my Mackenzie Child’s clock on the wall across from where I laid. I loved that clock. And then I missed my mom’s silverware and the table I had purchased from her estate. I missed my big white coffee mug.

But I’m a minimalist, right? That’s what I’ve told myself for the past year and a half. I don’t need stuff.

In thinking on all this I’ve decided it’s probably part of a grieving process of some kind. When we choose to grow, we leave behind some things, and we gain some other things. If you want room for the new, you have to purge some of the old.

The things I miss most, are tied to memories that I can never lose.

The black blanket was security during a very scary time in my life, with the dog I lived with and loved for 8+ years. The Mackenzie Child’s clock was hope, the first housewarming gift I received upon the start of a brand new life and way of living. The table and silverware of my moms was comfort. It kept her alive in my mind on a daily basis and reminded me of the conversations we had almost every single morning, the year before she died. The mug brought back memories of my girls as I took it with me driving my Lizard to school every morning or walking Olivia to the bus where every day she would throw my the "I love you" sign out the window as the bus drove off. Gahh.

I guess in the end, none of that would have fit in my Toyota Highlander anyway. My outer world may be minimal, but my heart is not.

It’s interesting how Chloe’s loss and blindness has set off an awareness of my own loss and a very different kind of blindness. It’s painful and it’s freeing and it’s been a long time coming. I’ve turned the water back on, so to speak, and opened my eyes just a little more. I’ve started working on my book again and I’ve made the commitment to continue writing regularly and sharing, as hard as it sometimes is, as I wade back into the water. If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for reading and wading with me.

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