Gaining Awareness Through Loss
One of the saddest things I have read in a long time was this gut-wrenching excerpt in the New York Times (2/23/10) about a Haitian earthquake survivor:
“Don’t cut off my leg!” Fabienne Jean screamed repeatedly as she was carried through the gates of the General Hospital here after the earthquake. “I’m a dancer. My leg is my livelihood. Please, don’t take my leg.”
Her pain, anguish, and utter despair associated with the loss of her leg and the abject powerlessness to change what is, grabbed me like a vice, squeezing emotion up and out of me in one vomit-like convulsion.
The poignancy of this story brought to the fore, in one violent burst, recent losses in my life that I had not allowed full emotional expression: two friends who have unexpectedly died, and perhaps even more to the point, my own loss of health due to kidney disease and everything that entails—loss of well-being, vitality, years of life, freedom from machines used to keep me alive. I think the reason I felt so shaken up by Fabien Jean’s horror is that it touched a chord in me—I want my kidneys and everything they do for me, back.
The cruelest irony is that we often don’t fully appreciate life, people, our bodies and their amazing function, until gone. Loss wakes us up, snaps us out of our stupor. At this moment, I’m acutely aware of the fragility of life and how lucky I am. I hope I never forget it. The time to dance is now.coping with loss, grief, loss, self-awareness, self-understanding