Loss has been on my mind a lot so far in January.
January was a month that has seen some very public loss for many of us. And a private loss.
Do not listen to the words I say just listen to what I can keep silent, as one of my favourite songs of all time says.
How do I talk about what I cannot talk about?
Newspapers talk of David Bowie – and Alan Rickman's – secret fight against cancer. The word is not secret. The word is private. There is a world of difference between a secret, and wanting some discretion. Not everything that happens is an anecdote. Not ever victory, or every defeat, is for public knowledge.
I don't write explicitly about the personal in a way I used to. I used to put it all out there, in the early days of the Internet. Not now.
But how to talk about battles? I have lost both personally – away from what you know – and publically. I've lost hope in some situations, and that is one of the hardest losses there is. I always live in hope. That I can feel, love, laugh, again. That whatever I am going through will not be forever. That there is sunshine again. This is the greatest power there is. I have hoped, always. I have picked myself up off the floor a thousand times. Again, and again, and again. Like a boxer that won't quit. I have given up before, and something has landed on my planet that has given me the hope to laugh, to live, to love, and to believe again.
You keep fighting battles. Swimming upstream. My ambitions are not insane. My desires not outlandish. To live, love, be happy and to be safe.
It's the hope I lost that was hard. To keep fighting. To keep getting so close to a small victory, and to be defeated. To have lost a million battles and yet not lose the war. But hope grows back again.
Things end. But the reasons are right, and that makes a great hurt hurt less. Understanding is the key.
And I've lost David Bowie. I know this is not unique to me, and millions of others have felt his unexpected death as acutely as I ; which for someone I have not me and who does not know me is a bizarre situation to be in.
Bowie's “Blackstar” allowed me an insight into a feeling I haven't been able to.. vocalise in myself. An expression of a sense of grief. Grief is real, as real as sunlight and air. You can't touch it, or hold it. But then, you can't bottle sunlight.
With the loss of David Bowie, and by extension also Lemmy (who I have spent countless hours with through the medium of rock and roll), and Alan Rickman (who again, I have spent thousands of hours with through my television), this month has been a month of loss. There was never any knowledge of Bowie dying, just that one day he was dead.
He helped me be myself, by being himself.
But loss. Oh, the loss. I mourn. Mourning is for ourselves. It is utterly selfish. The grief, the sense of loss, is not for others. It is for the hole in ourselves, where we allowed someone in, and where they no longer are. This may be a small and inconsequential moment, but not to us. It may be someone who you've loved, or someone you still love, or someone you've met, or someone you haven't met.
But how long is it to grieve? Grief has no expiration date. No Best before date. I still feel deeply losses that happened twenty years ago. I lost an opportunity – and that will sting for years, as some still do. But it hurts less now than it did. And will hurt less in future. But still, I am overjoyed I experienced something so great as to mourn for it.
Other losses, that at the time derailed my life, for years, are now no more than historical irrelevances with no impact on my life. Whole years of my life have no lasting effect on me now. I do not think about them for weeks on end, and when do, with the same importance I would a job or a song.
You have to walk through Grief Valley to know it. You have to experience the Grieflands to understand.
You feel that it won't end. But that's the sting of expectation. The sting of feeling. The sting that tells us we're still alive. We're still here. We're still there. Not quite dead yet. We can still feel. We can still love. We can still smile. Here we are. Still feeling. Still hurting. Still hoping. Always hope. The greatest superpower. I've had amazing experiences in the past few years,the kind that make life worth living, and I'm blessed with friends and family that make life worth being alive.
We get back up again. We enter the ring. We hope. Victory comes from having not yet lost.