Stripped

When asked by a reporter a few weeks ago what I wanted people to know about the magnitude of this incident, I remember commenting, “We’re about to lose it all.” As I packed up our family photos today and removed all traces of “Maslin” from our condo, I began to feel the full weight of those words. I knew this was coming. I knew we were about to say goodbye to the remaining elements of our former life, but it all still seemed so far away. Today as I made decisions about what to pack and what to throw away, I realized that none of these material items really mattered. We’re starting over. And no object I keep is going to help me hold on to the life I am now grieving.

I’m constantly haunted by the memories of our former life: TC and I painting over the dreadful orange hallway that ran the length of our apartment. The day we brought Jack home: watching him intently as he slept in his bouncer, sipping coffee, and laughing with our parents about all the remarkable things he did as a newborn. My son is about to leave everything he has ever known: his home, his neighborhood,  his friends, and his incredible nanny. He clings to me these days. Me, the thread that connects his present experiences with the life he knew before. His world is about to be rocked once more and he doesn’t even know it.
In a very short while, Jack will compete with TC for my full attention. I don’t know which one will need me more. All I know is that I will be seriously needed. Perhaps the constant demands on my time and energy will be a good thing. I don’t do well in moments of quiet. I’m not ready to feel the full force of my sadness, although I’ve become increasingly aware that it is lurking silently, buried not far from the surface. It sits there cloaked in a shadow of “Why me,” “This is unfair,” and “What if?”
Sadness, even more so than anger, may not productive at this moment, but it has to be indulged in from time to time. Unsurprisingly, I get a lot of unsolicited advice right now. Be grateful. Be strong. Be happy for what you have. Be positive. I am all of these things at a million different moments, but I will not deny that is a very sad time for me. This is my life. For the next 50+ years. And I’ve just said goodbye to a future I’ve planned for, worked for, and looked forward to with my very best friend.
Without this material stuff, without our home, our jobs, and everything else, we are all stripped down to our most basic existence: a family bound together by our love for each other, looking outward to a foggy horizon. Maybe the life ahead will be better than the one we knew before. Maybe it will continue to be full of fear and sadness. Maybe none of the hard work we put in to get where we were ever really mattered. Maybe at our core, we’re just people. And maybe our greatest assets are those we contain within ourselves: our resilience, our determination, and our ability to keep on surviving.

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