Of Lost Things


"You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp." — Anne Lamott

Many years ago I sat in a dark theater and watched, ‘Corpse Bride’ a quirky animated film by Tim Burton about love, death, justice, and redemption. Shortly after the introduction of the Corpse Bride, Emily, there is a sequence where she is dancing in the moonlight. Even as she “looses” her leg, i.e. it gets stuck in a tree root, there is such freedom and whimsy in her enjoyment of the rare moment of moonlight. Emily swiftly re-attaches her leg and continues to dance. What is striking and beautiful in this cinematic moment is that this character is one who has lost everything and yet still, even in that loss and a reminder of that loss is able embrace moments of pleasure. She quite literally has learned to dance with a limp.

To be human is to learn how to dance with a limp, for as much as we try we cannot escape the reality of loss. Somewhere along the way we will lose what we cannot afford to lose and the loss will be shattering and heartbreaking. For some of us whatever the loss is will take us to the end of our hope and a feeling as if we will not be able to come back from this. I remember a midwinter night four years ago after coming back from my friend’s memorial service, categorically the most delusional and disconnected ritual I have ever been to because of how little of my friend was present, and feeling like I had reached a breaking point.  For whatever the reason her suicide was the final straw in years of compounded impossible losses and in that moment I felt as if I had reached a point of no return. I spend the evening crying, begging and praying for something to change. In the morning I woke feeling exhausted but also a bit lighter, looking back that night was the beginning of healing for me, the first trembling step of emotional and spiritual physical therapy. By allowing myself to experience the depth of my grief, I also gave myself permission to experience joy and pleasure. Like C.S. Lewis said in regard to his short time with wife Joy Davidson Lewis, “Why love, if losing hurts so much? I have no answers anymore: only the life I have lived. Twice in that life I’ve been given the choice: as a boy and as a man. The boy chose safety, the man chooses suffering. The pain now (at the loss of his wife) is part of the happiness then (the time with Joy). That’s the deal.” Will you choose to dance?  Even if it means dancing with a limp?

~Jessica Knippel,  Director of Operations