Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Sounds of Loss

"... But you went away, how dare you? I miss  you. . .
     And they say I'll be okay, but I'm not going to ever get over you. . ."
           -Over You by Miranda Lambert

When I heard this song for the first time I ruined my make up.
It is always amazing to me when an artist/songwriter whom I have never met can create a piece of art that so completely encompasses how I feel about a particular situation in my life. . . and often I hear it at a very specific time, like when I need to hear it the most.
Loss is a scary, world changing concept. Sometimes it is in the shape of a misplacement, sometimes it is in the shape of a drawn out conversation that results in someone walking away, and sometimes it is in the shape of a bad accident, a lethal disease, a last breath. No matter what sort of loss it is, it is hard, painful, and it forever changes the contours of your life.

Likely, as you are reading this, you are thinking of a loss you have faced in your life, a loss that has changed the course of your life, a loss that has changed the rate at which you have grown up. There are two such losses in my life: when my 15 year old cousin lost his life in a car accident and when my grandpy lost his life in his sleep.
Everyday I think about these two men. They were colorful, funny, bright, and they lit up your life when they smiled at you. They were staples in our family and they died less than one year apart. It wasn't easy then and it isn't any easier now, but I learned a lot from them when I could see their faces and I learn a lot from them now when I have to remember their faces.

I've learned that laughter is the best medicine, hard work always reaps benefits, it is never too early, or too late, to have a good time, and when the weather is just right there will be a miniature rainbow barely visible in the sky; a sundog.
I've learned that hearing a song on the radio can make your heart stop and take you back to a wooden pew in that tiny church, that when Rocky Top plays at a wedding reception or festive party, you might feel the need to sit down and tell yourself to take a breath, and then another, and I've learned that none of it gets any easier; you don't go to family get togethers and stop noticing the quiet voids they used to fulfill, you don't hear "Unstoppable" and not get choked up at the irony of the whole song, you don't stop missing them every single day, and you don't stop wishing for just an hour with them everytime you think of their face.

I was 15 when Nick passed and it was the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with. Within seconds I became aware of the fragility of life, the importance of siblings, and why saying I love you, even when you may not feel like it, is imperative. Our family lost Nick 8 years ago, but I still remember the raspiness he had in his voice, the way he made me giggle, how he threatened some guy in high school not to hurt me, or else, and I remember the line of people out of the funeral home on a cold January day. Because Nick was that guy- he was contagious and beautiful and completely loved. And it is without a single doubt that he learned that from our grandpy- who always wore blue and white pin striped overalls with highlighters in the front pocket, who had a white beard that made kiddos think he was Santa Clause, who would slap his leg when he thought something was funny, and always tell us to "quit the damn passing and get to eating" at the dinner table.

Everyday I miss these men. Everyday I love them more. Everyday I realize just how much I grew up that year because when people like them leave. . . you can't help but change.
So I am altered, but forever a Duff. I am stronger, but forever missing them. I am happy, but continuously memorizing the sounds of loss: snow falling quietly over a corn field, the birds chirping on a perfect fall day, the guitar strums of "Free Bird," and the inescapable fact that everywhere I go, no matter what I do, I've got two country boys at my back. . . and that. . . well that is not a loss at all.

How does loss sound to you?

-Stephi D.

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