“For there is nothing lost, that may be found, if sought.”
Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene
Have you ever lost something? I regularly lose things, particularly my IPad, phone, glasses and keys!
Loss causes my emotions to range from frustration, anger, helplessness, despair and a deep sadness.
It was utterly ravishing.
To my nine year old mind, that was the only word to describe my pencil box. It was the most beautiful one that I’d ever seen. It was made of wood, rectangular in shape with a lid that slid on and off. On top of the lid was painted a dragon that was splendiferous in appearance. It had puffs of smoke coming out of it’s nostrils and was eating an apple. Obviously a very healthy dragon!
I slid the top down to open it and there lay my pencils and pens gleaming up at me. And at the very top was this small compartment for my eraser and my silver sharpener. They seemed to be eagerly begging for use.
It was in Ms Golden’s class that I took out my new pencil box with a flourish. I remember the way Roy Pienaar’s eyes alighted on it and his comment: “Hey, that’s quite cool!”
I had a crush on Roy Pienaar and this comment made my heart swell. I took out a pen, licked the end and tried to look adequately studious.
This pencil box and I will never to be parted, I thought.
The Christmas holidays came and I changed schools. I began as a boarder at Durban Girls College. The day before we left Johannesburg to travel down to Durban, I was in a state. I could not find my pencil box anywhere. It was terrifying enough going to a new school but going without my own, special dragon, I felt crucified by helplessness. We searched the house but my pencil box had disappeared completely.
About six months later, during the school holidays, my dragon of delights was found. It had got mixed up with my sister’s building blocks and thrown in a cupboard where my dragon munched his apple to his heart’s content. By that time, I was the proud owner of a Durban Girls College pencil box so I left my dragon to his munching.
My sister, Megan and her family live in New Zealand. About ten years ago, they moved from one side of Auckland to the other. They took Pebbles, their much loved cat with them. They moved into their new home and naturally locked Pebbles in a room for two days. This was to get her used to her new surroundings. After two days passed, they released her inside but kept all the windows and doors closed. She scouted around her new home and looked fairly intrigued by it all. She ate a bowl of food and went and lay in a lovely sunny place in the lounge. Thank the Pope, it looked as if Pebbles was settling in. Megs relaxed. Everything would be fine. At supper time, Pebbles’s food was put out but no Pebbles appeared. Her food remained untouched. In fact, Pebbles was nowhere to be seen! Where could she be? Everyone had been super careful whenever they left the house. Then Megan spotted her mistake. She had left the window in the laundry open. Pebbles had seen her opportunity and taken it!
The family was distraught. Pebbles didn’t know the area. Where would she go? Posters of Pebbles were put up far and wide. Six weeks later, Megan got a phone call from the owners of her old house.
“We have your cat. We recognised her from the poster that we have seen around town.”
Pebbles had taken six weeks to travel the ten kilometres to her old home. Megs picked up this very thin, bedraggled cat who gave this piteous miaow when she saw her. Pebbles literally clung to Megan as if to say: “I came home but you weren’t here. You weren’t where you were supposed to be!”
Megs longed to be able to speak cat language and explain. Instead she just clasped Pebbles firmly to her chest and whispered soft nonsensical things to this cat whom she adored.
The lost Pebbles had been found.
My ‘soulmate’, B is a summer follower. She spends her time split between England and South Africa. She returns to South Africa and indulges in magnificent springs and summers. Autumn arrives and she leaves with the rest of the Swallows for spring in England. I laughed this year because she returned to a temperature of 9 degrees with a real feel of 2. In South Africa, we had an autumn day of 28 with a real feel of 30!
B is my ‘soulmate’. When she leaves for England, I feel as if part of me is lost. But Persephone-like, the spring breeze wafts her back into my orbit again and I am complete once more!
I have written about the helplessness of losing my dragon pencil box. The trauma of the missing Pebbles. My incompletion on being separated from B. The one type of loss that completely unravels me is death.
‘It’s fine for you,’ I hurled my accusations skywards. ‘You have left this world. How are we now meant to cope without you? Tell me? How are we meant to handle this vast abyss that was you?’
Silence answered me.
I had forgotten the value of photographs. In my bedroom, I have this large board filled with pictures of people I love. There is a picture I adore of Dad bringing flowers into my dressing room when I ‘performed’ my Plunge to Fame. The memory of that time is crystal clear. So each morning I wake to my Dad presenting me with beautiful flowers! Aren’t photographs magical? There is one of Libby clapping at one of her grand children’s school plays. It reminds me of one of the roles Libbs played in my life. Libby and my parents came to every production of mine at University and every professional production I was involved in. I was considered Libby’s fifth daughter!
At the reception after Libby’s funeral, I was amazed to discover so many of my old school friends from the two years I spent at Durban Girls College. They had all adored Libby.
“Libbs used to park her big orange Combi behind the goal posts, when we played hockey, Gaye, remember?”
Instantly I had this image of Anne, her daughter, and I, cringing inside as this orange Combi hooted out it’s delight every time College scored a goal.
How incredible it was to reconnect and ‘find’ those ‘lost’ friends from so long ago.
When Mums and I were flying home from Libby’s funeral, I looked out at the panoramic clouds sprinkled before me.
“Think how much fun Dad and Libby’s spirits must have, being able to gamble and whizz amongst these clouds,” I mused.
“No, they wouldn’t want to do that,” Mum countered. “I don’t think that they would want anything at all to do with this earth. Where they are now is so much better.”
I thought of how much fun I would find performing such cloud-like feats and realised that I was thinking as someone who was still earthbound and very much in love with life.
My children are ageing. Now Perdita, my wire haired dachshund, is thirteen. Spencer, my cockatiel, is twelve. I cannot even contemplate their loss. And yet I must. After all, death is part of life.
I believe in a wonderful God and I believe in an afterlife. So I will see Dad and Libby again in Heaven. The lost will once more be found! In fact, there are a whole load of people I am dying to meet there. Paul Newman is very prominent on my list! And animals will definitely be in Heaven with us. Dogs deserve to go to Heaven far more than most humans. Dogs teach me so much about unconditional love!
In this blog, nothing that was lost stayed lost. I even found my iPad, iPhone, glasses and keys.
The hunt for them will begin again.