“It has to hurt if it’s to heal.” 

He was a child soldier called upon to complete a specific and dangerous quest. No one was able to adequately address his concerns, but he responded to the request with grace and a sense of wit. Although he understood the dangers, he believed in his mission and believed that he could usher in success. It didn’t matter that he was just a little boy.

I was his advocate and his peer, having been close to his age at the time of our journey. I understood the task and was committed to his vision, and then it happened.

Artax died in the Swamp of Sadness.

The mission was ultimately successful, but Artax’s overwhelming sadness and his slow, agonizing acceptance of death were profound. (Who puts a scene like that in a kid’s movie?) 

I’ve never been a good loser. When I was younger I’d throw checkers at anyone close by after a bad game. I quit basketball in 8th grade because my little brother, who was 6 years old at the time, beat me mercilessly. A few years ago a friend, beloved wife and mother of two in her 20s, committed suicide. I couldn’t bring myself to go to the funeral.

A couple years ago I lost 30 pounds due to stress and a nasty stomach flu. I gained them back.

Loss and the fear of losing continue to teach me important lessons.

  1. Every moment, no matter how seemingly insignificant, has value. Valuing moments means appreciating opportunities that challenge us, forgiving those who grieve us, and being intentional about what we want and how we plan to get there. Valuing moments means taking stock of those people, experiences and beliefs that add value to our lives– and those that don’t.
  2. There is no shame in loss. There is no shame in grief. Sometimes we need to acknowledge what we have lost so that we are able to grieve.
  3. Losing something that is critical to our identity and losing someone who is critical to our heart are not the same things, but they can affect us in the same remarkable ways. It’s important that we acknowledge this.

What has loss taught you?