Recently, I have turned my attention to the issue of the catalogue essay.
I have determined to maintain the thread of stories and perceptions of loss in the writing. This provides another pathway for considering the dynamics of overcoming and transcending loss - at the same time using language as the window for sharing experience.
I have asked several people to write short episodes about their experiences of loss, in same the way that interview subjects relate their stories in silent interviews. In those interviews, words are removed and only the play of the face remains. In the essay, the visage is removed and only the words remain.
I will not be using the stories provided for this as material dropped into the essay. I plan to extract key phrases and themes, and co-opt them into a weaving text that is fluid and experiential instead of fixed and analytical.
The first piece I would like to share comes from my friend Aneel Silva. Aneel is a young man with a family, and is currently living with leukemia. I'd like to thank Aneel for writing such a brutally honest and personal appraisal of the subject. It is difficult to read, but it is Aneel's truth.
In the end, we all lose. It is a part of growing, a part of living, and a part of dying. It is a part of maturing and coming of age. We cannot control the cards we are dealt, we can only control our response to them. It is an experience – something you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.
Loss brings to mind a whole range of emotions that are self-destructive: guilt, regret, lost opportunities, disempowerment. These emotions are not useful to hold onto in the longer term - though they are possibly useful in the process of grieving or coming-to-terms-with - but to hold on them for too long is disabling.
What I want to consider is the transmission of loss. I am a husband and a father and I love my wife and I love my daughter. But I have been given an experience that will not allow me to see my daughter realise her potential, be happy as a woman, control her own destiny, laugh as a woman laughs, cry as a woman cries. I will not see her finish school, go to university, meet the person that gives her happiness.
For my daughter, I must concentrate on living now and in the small moments so that when these events in her life happen, she can remember the supportive and happy father, not the one who was a crying poor victim of the uncontrollable. I cannot allow the negative aspects of loss pollute the most joyful moments of her life. I may not be there, but I know I will always be there. And I know that she will always feel me there.
We can control loss for ourselves, but can we control our loss on others? I know that my loss will be her loss too, but I must minimize the negative impact on her. She will grow without me, but that is not enough. She should blossom into the full person that she is. Perhaps my loss will help her do that – I am determined not to let it stop her growth as far as I can. I am no martyr, but my love for her is greater than my feeling of self-pity.
Loss is a challenge. And I will lose. But I must perfect the art of losing gracefully so that my darling daughter can experience the joy of life…indeed, the joy of my loss.
- Aneel Silva
Unedited contribution of Aneel Silva.