Today Ellie was supposed to graduate with her Masters of Science in Nursing. After she passes her boards she will be an Adult/Geriatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. But it was cancelled.
I was reflecting on all of the losses that we’re all experiencing. There are so many. Not only the loss of life. That’s a story for another time. I’m talking about all of the losses. The high school wrestler trying to be a four time state champ. The college senior excited about her last time to get to play softball at this level of competition. The underprivileged basketball star whose coach had lined up scouts to come watch him play so that he’d have a shot at going to college. Prom. Yearbook signing. Kindergarten spring play. MLB Baseball. Even the funerals for those who have died during this terrible time.
I’m reminded of my favorite story of my nephew, Bridger. My sister and her husband were out of town and my parents were taking care of Bridger, about 4, and Caid, about 2. They had gotten happy meals at McDonalds that day, and the toy that came with it was a really awesome Star Wars Storm Trooper. Bridger was so proud of it, he came in and showed my husband Sawan and me, who happened to be at my folk’s house. We oohed and ahhed. It was bedtime, so the kiddos started the bedtime routine, and fifteen minutes later, Bridger was completely distraught because he couldn’t find the Storm Trooper. So we formed a search party. Mom and Dad took the upstairs, Sawan and I took the downstairs. We moved couch cushions, we looked under furniture, we tried to think of what a four year old could have possibly done with the toy in the last 15 minutes, but we didn’t find it. Finally, my dad took a knee in front of the crying Bridger and tried to get him to retrace his steps. He said, “Ok. So, you had it when you came in from the car.” Bridger nods. “Then you showed it to Noey and Sawan.” Bridger nods. “Then you went upstairs with it?” Bridger nods. Dad says, “Do you think you know what you did with it after that?” Bridger nods in the affirmative again. We all breathe a collective sigh of relief. Why hadn’t we started with this tactic? “Oh! Well, what do you think you did with it?” In a loud sob he cried, “I think I LOST it!” It was so cute and heartbreaking and hilarious all at one time. Sawan was so tickled. When I try to remember the sound of Sawan’s laughter, I go to this memory for it.
When I recounted this story to Bridger’s mom, though, she didn’t think it was as funny as I did. She explained to me that Bridger thought that Lost was an actual place. It’s something he said all the time. “Where is it Bridger?” “Mom, I told you, it’s Lost.”
When people talk about loss and death and grief and people dying, everyone has different language that they prefer. I know lots of widows that hate it when people refer to their husband as “lost.” “He was not a set of keys,” says one of my widow friends of her husband. My personal distaste is for the term “passed.” Because to me, I think that he was not gas. My dead husband was not a fart. So I say that I lost him. I like to think of him going to Bridger’s place. To Lost, where all of our favorite needed or loved things go. He’s there, hanging out with Bridger’s Storm Trooper.
But, I thought about this Lost place for the first time in a long time today. Maybe Lost is a place for experiences, too? Maybe all of those losses that we’re experiencing here are being enjoyed by those that we’ve Lost. Maybe Sawan and his homies got to watch this year’s Opening Day. Maybe he’s getting to watch cutie pies in plays and awesome softball games and triumphant wrestling matches and come from behind wins. Maybe he’s getting to cheer rights of passage and comfort the grieving. And maybe, just maybe, he’s getting to watch Ellie cross the platform, and he’s standing up and doing that whistle thing with his fingers really loud. ‘Cuz I know he would if this all were true.