This post comes from a weekly memoir writing prompt provided by The Red Dress Club: Write a post that either starts or ends with the words “Lesson learned.” Word limit: 400 words.
Sitting on our front porch watching the movers load the van with our belongings, I lamented those things that wouldn’t be coming with me in our move halfway across the country. Three weeks before, burglars had broken into our house and stolen all my jewelry. I could describe each piece in detail, telling you who gave it to me and for what occasion. The tiny silver heart etched with my initials in dainty script letters my grandfather had given me for my seventh birthday, an ankle I.D. bracelet my brother gave me when we were still in high school, the gold locket my father gave my mother before he went to the South Pacific during World War II with their pictures inside and a love note engraved on the back.
Numerous other pieces were stolen, all with a story, and so many from people whom I loved dearly and are no longer here. I had been excited about our move, quite an adventure for us at our age, but the recent burglary had left me angry and sad. As I was watching the movers carry load after load from the house to the van, my neighbor came and sat next to me on the bench. She told me how much she was going to miss having us in the neighborhood. Her son Taylor had been killed by a drunk driver the year before. My husband and I had gone to their house and sat with them and let them cry and talk.
I asked her how she and her husband and other son, Mike, were doing. Mike had been a student in my English class a few years before, and I knew how he had worshipped his older brother. She said they just take one day at a time and try to get through it. I said, “It’s hard to believe Taylor’s been gone for over a year now.” She replied, “He’s been gone fourteen months, two weeks, and four days.” A mother would know. We both sat there in silence, thinking about the emptiness in that statement.
After my neighbor left, there was a little voice in my head that said, “You want to talk about loss? Now there’s loss!” I felt ashamed that I had let my loss drag me down for weeks when my sweet neighbors had to endure a lifetime of missing Taylor.
I can’t say that I don’t think about all those stolen jewelry pieces and get sad sometimes and angry because of the way they were taken from me, but I don’t dwell on it and now have no trouble putting it into perspective. My neighbor, without knowing it, taught me about loss. Lesson learned.