Writing Workshop: The Book of Lost Things

It’s easy. This blog is a book of lost things.

I’ve written about the loss of my mythically perfectly formed first child at the moment she was born and brought challenges to overcome and discovering that in fact, life is not always perfect and children are not always perfect and sometimes, you have to make something new from a patchwork of unexpected scraps of something else.

Patchwork can be beautiful.

I’ve written about the loss of innocence and control that was the births where my dignity and self belief were ripped from me and I emerged broken and battered and torn beyond measure. From the edges of the darkest corners of my hatred for people who failed to remember that I was a person and losing sight of that, they forced me to lose myself. When they stitched me up, they used running stitches and dissolving threads and left me to darn and embroider something new over the top of the ragged remains of a person who had lost all control of what happened.

I’ve written about the loss of my honour, when I forgot who I was and settled for being a sacrifice to the futures of others, forgetting that without the fabric, a family cannot make a tapestry of colour;  that if the fabric, the parents, crumbles suddenly like silk  left too long in the sun, the picture would unravel and all would be lost. I’ve written about the loss of the single solitary thing I held dear, that all that a mother should care bout is doing the right thing for her children, all of them, and never lose sight of that. And I did. I was blinded. I lost my sight and I lost perspective and I can never get that back. I looked close and saw danger and I didn’t shout hard enough that I could also look long and see destruction.

I wrote about the near loss of my marriage, when all went dark and all became dreadful and the world that we built blew like the remnants of curtains blowing in the windows of a bombed out building; ragged, tattered remains that seemed to have no function left and nothing that could be repaired and made good. I wrote of the loss of laughter and the loss of trust and the loss of hope and joy. I wrote that, through all that, we never lost love or belief or determination. I wrote about taking down the rags and stitching them carefully and finding new fabrics and new ways to sew and making something beautiful that hangs in the light and blows in the wind and shades us and warms us and brings beauty to our family.

I’ve written, fleetingly, about losing the blanket of my birth family, the safety and comfort of having parents who are always upright, honest and true and right and knew best. I’ve written, and thought more, about how it feels to suddenly feel the central point of sanity, instead of the indulged and frivolous fringing around the edge. I’ve written less about learning to rely on nothing, beginning to understand that not all is as it seems, not all can be assumed, not all can be trusted. That in the end, I can lose everything that made me who I was and none of that matters if the strings and threads of who I am are still there. That I may be solid and prosaic in stature but I am nothing but lace, a filament of threads and knots and whoever knotted and wove them, all I have to do is make sure that the pattern is really me and I allow no one and nothing to pull them out of shape or unravel them.

I’ve not written, because I’m still stunned, of how this week I learned that I had lost my name. That one of the few things that mattered to me, that my two middle names were for two lost people in my childhood, turn out not to be that at all. That I am not named for my aunt who died shortly after her birth because somehow down the years her name got twisted or forgotten or changed or corrupted and as it happens, one of my threads is nothing, or nothing I can rely on knowing the truth about. Blown into my patchwork, my embroidery, my mending and my lace is a hole the size of a person and a name and a forgotten child.

I cannot begin to tell you how much it hurts to know that in 30 short years a baby who died when she was born had her name forgotten.

And then I have written about the loss of my son. I have written of how I begged for him and pleaded for him and then found that the process was no longer that I simply grabbed the ingredients from the shelf and made a baby. For Freddie we had to go so much further; we had to mend fences, nurture with love, gather the wool and spin the yarn. And then I knitted; I knitted love in a blanket and I grew him and the blanket grew and it formed a place in the middle of our home and we all began to want him and be ready for him and love the place that he would have. He had colours and stitches and I discovered skills and depths to myself and all of us that I hadn’t known before. In him, in the making of him, we found new love and new strength and new laughter and hope.

And then he came and none of the love I had or the skills I had or the person I had grown to become ready to mother him in a whole new and better way could hold him. He came and the only thing I could do for him was to let him go. The one thing that was right for him was the one thing that had already been wrong once before.

What this book is now is the loss of the future and the utter, brutal determination there is to make a new one. The loss of the mother I wanted to be one last time around and the making of the woman I have to be instead. Now it is about about trying to find new stitches and new wools and new fabrics and trying to make something good from something that has gone so horribly, horribly wrong. Keeping the wind from blowing into my family, keeping the sun from scorching us, stitching beauty, making good.

Written for the Writing Workshop at Sleep is for the Weak.

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  1. Nina says

    Yet another wonderful piece of writing Merry. I tried to stop reading as I am not feeling strong enough to cope with the raw feelings I have, let alone someone else’s but I couldn’t stop myself. I’m in awe of your ability to put into words these overwhelming feelings. <3

  2. says

    Gosh I only have one word to describe my reaction to just reading your piece – WOW!!

    I particularly related to the near loss of your marriage. Very powerful and moving writing.

  3. Alexandra says

    I don’t get it…. I’m not understanding your words…. I was sent it by a friend who thought it was a beautiful piece…. And perhaps of some comfort…
    I’m drowning in grief and the anger of ‘why?’…..
    I don’t get understand it…..

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