What is Loss to you?
Ever lost something precious or valuable in your life?
In January 2003, I lost my best friend, then in high school, Form 3. His death pierced my teenage heart like a poisoned arrow would.
He was a brilliant kid. Would have grown to be a great debater, contrarian and supremely knowledgeable. But with a pre-existing condition, in one of our deeper conversations, unlikely for children, he told me, he would never live long enough to enjoy life. However, his death barely three weeks into opening school in 2003 made me so sad, and I had to lie(a long with my homsie) to our deputy principal (bless his soul) that he was our cousin to go witness his burial. And seeing him in that coffin was extremely educative of the cruelty of death and loss.
Later that evening in school, I wrote a song, a tribute to him. The song was straight from my heart. Four stanzas, and would have sounded something close to Peter Cetera’s Glory of Love.
Back then, I used to nurse dreams of being a musician, and while my vocal range proved to be scarily annoying, my song writing skills were quite good and I recently checked the book I wrote a dozen R&B songs, and I commended myself. They are actually pretty good and standard.
Back to the song about my departed friend. For the longest time, I moved around with the book that had the lyrics. It was always with me. Stayed with me. From Kisii, to Koru, to Fort Ternan to Kisumu, to Kericho, to Nairobi and everywhere I went. But somewhere down the line I lost the book or the piece of paper with the lyrics. And try as I can other than the opening lines, I can’t remember the song I wrote down.
Of all my big losses of life, discounting the deaths, those lyrics still haunt me. However long it took me, I still believed that one day at the very least I will produce the song. And now that I have means to do so, I can’t replicate the lyrics and it constantly hurts me.
This morning I reflect on the things we lose in life. Your phone. Your laptop. Your dress. Your sunglasses. Your music collection. Sometimes it is your favourite boxer or panty that you forget in a far away hotel.
Or a valuable friend that you grow apart without noticing to a point they fall off the map.
Loss punctuates life. When I went to States five years ago, I picked the best books in my library. And what a collection that was. It was the best of classics. I remember this African American cop who searched my bag at the JFK airport and wondered why I carried so many books and gave me this condescending lecture that I will write about one day.
When I left the States, I couldn’t carry the books with me because Swiss Air flight I used had like a 2KG weight limit. I left that collection plus some of the best books I bought in New York’s Inama Bookshops and with hopes that maybe I will be able to ship them home or go back for them. Long story short, nothing of the sort happened and I have mourned that loss every day. Kemunto Nyakundi superb Facebook bookshop has nothing on that library I left in States. They were at least 500 books.
How do you deal with a loss. I saw a joke somewhere that a heartbreak can make you wash one leaf of spinach for one hour. There are moments where whiskey can help numb certain pains and losses. Some we leave to time. Time is an inadequate answering machine, but it tries.
Personally, having lost some of the most precious people in my life at a young life, sort of cushions me when dealing with loss, because there can never a bigger loss.
That doesn’t make losing any less painful, though. If anything it can aggravate it with the usual, ‘why me always’. Like when this boda boda guy sped with my phone in Kampala when I went there for a break. Thirty minutes into my arrival, I was phoneless.
But how I deal with loss is to remind myself, in life, everything is fleeting. Whereas somethings are irreplaceable, and some losses more damaging, the realization that it is futile to cry over spilt milk can be cartharthic. Sometimes it is hope. That you will meet your departed friend. Or the abiding faith in their memory. Often it keeps me going.
Also, every day I realise the futility of life. Like the things that trouble us the most, when we scrutinize them further, we realise, they hardly matter.
My most recent loss was 7,000 word manuscript, part of my novel that is due out later in the month. Try as I could to retrieve it, I could not. And you can never rewrite something with the perfection of the original inspired flow.
I was besides myself with grief, but I had to dust up myself and go back and write.
What have you ever lost, that was hard to deal with and how did you come to terms with the loss? Or deal with it…Or how do you deal with loss? Let’s talk.