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I’ve been thinking a lot about loss, recently. The past year or so has brought a number of truths home to roost, and presented us with the realization that yes, the familiar can disappear virtually without warning, and we can lose people and cherished comforts in the blink of an eye. Foundations have been rocked. Unanswerable questions have surfaced.

Those of us that have lived a number of years, have more than a passing acquaintance with loss, anyway, and handle it in various ways. Many of us turn to our faith. Some become cynical, some grow a hard shell, defying the world to ever hurt them again. Some crumble. Some descend into depression. More than a few combine these reactions in a purely personal fugue of grief.

Then there’s the Big River of Psychosis—or De Nile, better known as DENIAL. In order to function from day to day, we sometimes have to deny that the worst can happen. My parents will live forever, as will my beloved spouse. Illness may strike others, but it will never strike me. Yes, my pet is growing older—that doesn’t mean I’ll lose her soon. Ill fortune will never select me. Till it does.

Yes, I’ve been thinking about loss lately, more than I should. A very dear friend is seriously ill, and I’ve been revisiting what she means to me. Memories and loss are entwined just like loving and the beat of the heart—one fuels the other, which drives the first. I’ve been dwelling upon what she means to me, and what it would mean to lose such a huge chunk of my past. She’s tied to so much—the music we loved, the dreams we shared, the philosophies we forged. The very things that made me who I am. If I lose her, I will lose a large part of myself.

But, I think, what if it works the other way round? What—oh, what if loss is nothing more than an illusion?

It’s an elusive proposal, like those she and I floated in the past while spending endless summer days beside a lake of equally endless blue. What if we have it all backward? If we create our realities, merging them together through a pattern of years we share, do they not then belong to us, lodged in our hearts and minds? If I hold those I love in my memory, can I lose them so long as I exist? If my friend, like my memories, is part of me, surely despite whatever deceptions the world tries to play upon me, I cannot lose her.

Memory may sometimes hurt, but it is in fact a magical power. I will cherish it as sacred, until I can think no more.