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Volume 1, Issue 1
Spring 2005:

Necessary Losses

Brian T. Maurer

Cell 2 Soul. 2005 Spring; 1(1):a13

Today I am up early; the bedside clock reads 4:30AM.

I suppose it might have been my toe that woke me up. I banged it on the bottom of the pool while swimming at the YMCA last week. It turned black and blue, and it still burns like fire when brushed up against the bed sheets.

In another three hours I will waken my oldest daughter from a fitful sleep. We will load her luggage into the back of my station wagon and drive her across town to catch her ride back to college in Pennsylvania. This is the final semester of her senior year. She'll be graduating in May. She's already started looking for a job, making some preliminary contacts and posting her resume online.

We can all tell when it's time for her to return to school. Suddenly she gets easily upset. Little things bother her, and tempers flare. "Has anyone seen my black slacks? I can't find them anywhere! Emily, did you take them? Where is my blue CD case? Did you move it when you cleaned, Mom? Of course I need it now! I borrowed those CD's from friends, and I have to give them back." She storms through the house, working herself up into a fit of frenzy.

A few hours from now, when I drop her off to catch her ride, she will hug me and there will be tears in her eyes. For her, transitions don't come easy.

Our only granddaughter came over yesterday morning for a visit. We gave her the presents that had accumulated under the tree over the Christmas holiday. We told her they were for her birthday, which we had missed this year as well. Since her mother got married last summer and moved away to Long Island, we don't see them that much anymore. Necessary losses, I suppose. Still, they aren't easy to take.

Tomorrow morning the wife of a good friend will go to the hospital for a mastectomy. Her doctors gave her a choice: have the procedure and be done with it, or a lumpectomy followed by chemotherapy or radiation. The cancer hasn't metastasized as yet; a mastectomy would be curative. So she negotiated a trade: one breast for her life. A necessary loss--but one not easy to bear.

Our lives are full of comings and goings. For each thing we try to hang on to, we are forced to give something else up. Necessary losses, to be sure; but no one ever said they were easy to handle.

Now that I think of it, perhaps it wasn't my toe that woke me up this morning after all. It may have been a different kind of pain. The sort of pain that comes from anticipating a necessary loss, one that still waits in the morning wings.

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