Sunday, October 23, 2016

We All Lose - An Essay by my Very Talented Son

I want to start by saying that this is a very raw narrative that my oldest wrote for an assignment at school (not for the faint of heart). While I am very proud of him for his honest and at times heartbreaking look at his life, it was not easy to read.  The reality is that while he has lived this, so have we - beside him, at times feeling terribly powerless and afraid. If I could have written in the margins of this assignment I would have reminded him that his existence was me winning. Our family has experienced loss and his struggle is his to navigate but not alone and not by losing. Maybe we have a future writer on our hands (even though he says he hates english).

There are many things to lose, almost too many. Losing isn’t avoidable it is a part of life. Whether it be a game, a loved one or an opportunity, if we lose hope or motivation, we all lose. A born winner takes losing much harder than a born loser. Everyone deals with loss differently and for different reasons. For example, losing a game may be experienced differently then losing family or friends. In life we all lose, some just lose more than others.     

I am a born loser. I have managed a few lucky wins here and there but the rest of the time I am losing. I have lost members of my family, I have lost my motivation for success, I believe I am lost. My best friend is the complete opposite, he has been winning since day one. He had a small hiccup when his parents split, but for the most part he is winning. He is intelligent, athletic and has a drive to be successful; I believe he can’t lose.

When I was born I was diagnosed with cellulitis which lead to late onset group B strep.  I was hospitalized for two weeks and was at risk of contracting meningitis, that was when my losing started. At age two and a half my parents told me that I would be a big brother. I was almost three years old when my baby brother died just two hours after he was born. I don’t remember much from that time period other than the dramatic shift in our house from joyous anticipation to devastating despair. My mom became a shell of her former self, empty like the room he was supposed to fill.

It would be seven years later when the Grim Reaper would rear his ugly head again, this time taking my “uncle” away from me, from his family. This man who I aspired to be like. A father who had just welcomed his fifth child. He was the most caring man I knew. I became extremely aggressive in a futile attempt to suppress my pain, the feeling of losing, the feeling of emptiness I had only experienced once before. If a streak consists of three, then this is where my losing streak begins.

Four months later I was on my way home from Disney World with my family, when my mom got a phone call. She sunk deep into her seat, face slipping into a hollow frown as streams of tears flowed from her eyes. Those same awful streams from seven years earlier. It wouldn’t be until we were home that she would tell us that my Grandma died.  I lost control of all my emotions, experiencing endless fits of anger.  The loss of her felt like fuel had been thrown on the fires of an already burning fury.

I went two years without losing anyone.  At the end of grade six I lost my dog. Copper the only dog I ever knew. He was my confidant, he comforted and understood me, we grew up together. Suddenly he was gone and my heart was ripped from my chest. The hurt was immeasurable and the emptiness reached new levels.  I felt so empty like there was nothing left in me to be empty.  I began to slip away, just coasting through life trying not to get attached to people. I wanted to prevent myself from losing more than I already had.

My simmering anger now turned to rage and I blamed it all on my parents.  I tried to run away from everything, love, attachments, my home, but that didn't work because I was only thirteen. I resorted to thoughts of killing myself so I would never lose anyone ever again. I would be freed from the sadness, the anger, the emptiness, the loss. These thoughts were in my head for years; how to do it, when to do it, where to do it. This was how I spent my formative years of thirteen, fourteen and fifteen. At some point the thoughts stopped, I began to realize that if I died I would just become someone else's loss.
At sixteen I lost my great Aunt to lung cancer and my Uncle to a heart attack. I felt nothing. I wasn't affected by their passing and I was not sure if it was because we were not close or just because I was so empty that I had stopped caring. I don’t know. It scared me to think that I could not feel and maybe never would again.  How could I live without emotion, was that even living? For just a moment I wondered if I could bear to keep losing if that was what life was.

Just last month I lost another one of my uncles. We saw him two to three times a year and when we did, him and I would have long conversations about how I was doing and if I was still playing baseball?  He would tell me that he would like to come and watch me play and I would always say that he was welcome but I would never reach out and give him a schedule and so he never made it to a game. Then he was gone, gone forever and I cried.  There was sadness and pain which was followed by a profound joy at the realization that I was alive.

Some may say that I have been burdened by loss. From my earliest memory I was losing and it followed me throughout my life. At times it seemed unbearable and something that was suffered in silence and other times it seemed to scream through my anger derived from my emptiness.  Life can be a collection of losses or an accumulation of memories, I still trying to figure out which one is me. For now, I have lost. I am lost. I will lose, we all do.