I watched this movie last night called Collateral Beauty. I really liked it, although I will say there are some things I don’t agree with in the movie, as any movie that comes out of Hollywood. Anyway, the story is that this man looses his young daughter and he is trying to deal with it. What I liked about it was that they allow the character to be real about his feelings when people offered platitudes. They allowed him to deal with all the feelings that you have when dealing with loss. The name of the movie comes from a line that is said to the little girl’s mother as she is dying. An older woman is there sitting next to the mother, she is a stranger, but she tells the women to watch for the collateral beauty. It’s the idea that because this mother has lost a child she will now see the world differently. She will now see what she had and how precious it was. She will now see real beauty because she has seen real loss. It’s true. I have been through real loss and it helps you see things differently.
We had our first two kids without any trouble. We were blissfully ignorant to the trauma and loss that can come with pregnancy until we got pregnant a third time. Then out of the blue at 15 weeks we lost the baby. Then we lost the next baby at 9 weeks. At that point I couldn’t face loss anymore and we decided to take another route and adopt. However, adoption as great as it is, didn’t fix the pain and hurt we had from our losses. I thought it would. I thought if I just had a baby in my arms it wouldn’t hurt anymore. That’s not true. We got pregnant shortly after adopting and I was terrified. I lived in fear every second of that pregnancy and even after Elijah was born. I didn’t really face my fear until he was three months old. I realized I hadn’t even allowed myself to connect with him because I was afraid of loosing him. It was horrible when I realized it and I felt terrible about it. I knew it was then that I had to let go of my fear and love him. Whether it was for a day or a lifetime, I had to love him. Love means risk, it means pain sometimes, most of the time. But that’s the deal. You cannot know what love really means until it costs you something to give it. Love isn’t easy. But I wouldn’t have known how much I could love until my losses. I wouldn’t have known how precious and blessed I was to have this baby if I hadn’t known loss. I loved him and Luke, the baby that came after him, with a more authentic and real love than I had prior to loss.
Having now lost three more babies since Luke was born, I can still say, even more so, that loss changes you. The most traumatic of our losses came just a year ago in losing our son Andrew at 21 weeks. It was more traumatic because we went through a delivery and then funeral for him. All these babies were losses but that one was much more difficult for us. There is nothing like having to bury a child. After that I didn’t think I would even see things the same way again. I wasn’t sure we would survive. But we did. And since that time I see things differently. I see the beauty in small things. The trivial stuff in life doesn’t matter anymore. At first I would get really irritated with people around me and their concerns about the smallest stuff or what I considered small, I’m sure to them it was large. I just realized what really mattered and that list was pretty short. I also found comfort in just sitting still and being in nature. Clarity comes in pain. You realize what is important and unimportant, and you are emboldened to do things you never thought you could because you have a bit of you that just doesn’t care anymore. I figured I had faced the worst and survived, so I could do bugger things than I thought possible. I also stopped caring so much what people thought. I have become someone who can have a hard conversation with someone if that is what is needed in the relationship. I used to be very afraid of confrontation but in these past few months I’ve become more comfortable with it. Not in a bad way, but in a healthy way. Rude is never good.
Loss is not something anyone wants to face, but it’s inevitable in this life. The older you get the more it seems to come. When it comes, be sure to watch for the collateral beauty, because it will come too.