My Greatest Loss Helped Me Embody Acceptance.
The useless pleading wasn’t going to make it bounce out of one of the boxes I had already scoured through. I knew it was gone, but I kept searching, and hoping. Hands in the air and boxes everywhere, my serious face wouldn’t crack. My gut clenched. Not only because I didn’t have it, but I couldn’t remember when I discarded it. During the late eighties or early nineties, I suspect. I probably shoved it in a bag with a bunch of toys I no longer loved. Did I kiss it goodbye?
That clown. Its white plastic face was ugly, but I longed to see or touch it once more. Even finding a photo may have eased my distress.
I was in Primary School the night Dad gave it to me after he’d returned from a rare work trip. With my eyes wide open and eyebrows raised, I was excited to unwrap my clown.
‘Thanks Dad.’ I said, as I gave him a hug.
The pointed maroon hat with white spots, matched the puffy arms and legs, all floppy against the hard torso. The hands and feet were hard plastic too. Many times, I squeezed the dismembered feet back into the pantaloons. This clown was nothing like my porcelain dolls. They were much larger, and so pretty. But I placed it between two of them on my pillow every morning for several years. I didn’t want to offend Dad.
On holidays, we take photos or bring back something tangible to prove we’ve been there. Was my clown the proof I needed that my dad existed as an individual, not as one of my parents? This present didn’t say ‘Lots of love from Mum and Dad xxx’ like the rest did. It was wrapped in the shop tissue paper with no card or message, but it was from him, and only him. I yearned for a way to connect with my dad. Did I really believe finding the clown would stop the pain?
It’s impossible to collect every material thing we receive over the years or we would be drowned in ‘stuff.’ Memories need to be enough. Several years ago, I came to terms with the reality that my clown was gone forever, just like my dad.
Once we experience the loss of a loved one, we become acutely aware of impermanence. My dad’s death shook me and drastically altered the trajectory of my life. My yet-to-be-published memoir, Where Have I Been All My Life? explains how — after time and healing — I can view the most devastating events in my life as some of my greatest blessings. I also reveal the dramatic changes I made as a result of my grief.
If, after a decade, I see that my dad’s death had a purpose, I can accept any moment — no matter how upsetting it seems at the time — as part of my path. Every moment is teaching me something, or projecting me forward.
It can be hard to accept painful things as they are happening, but it is naïve to believe they will be eliminated. Trials and struggles are guaranteed. After enough time has passed, we learn we have no option but to welcome acceptance. The alternative is a constant internal battle — attempting to control or create an imaginary life.
When I accepted the impermanence of everyone and everything in my life, I began to live differently, and I gave up searching for my clown.
I have let go of forcing and controlling. I am enjoying an unfamiliar sense of calm, after finally surrendering to ‘what is.’
Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts. If you want to hear more from me, please like my ‘Lisa Benson Author’ page on Facebook or follow me (lisabensonauthor) on Instagram.