Loss

Rannie Yoo (Reid, bless them) is a friend of mine, and a friend of many of my friends. She passed away last night after battling cancer.

I wrote the following earlier this year on my old 1UP blog, after my father passed away. I’m reposting it here…maybe it can help. Maybe not.

Thank you, Rannie. See you later.

* * *

You see it coming, and you think there’s still time. Time for everything you want to do, and everything you need to say. There might even be time for someone to swoop in and fix things. Heck, it wouldn’t even have to be a bona fide “miracle” – just a little help would be all right.

In the meantime, you make plans. Lots and lots of plans. Variations of plans, even. In your mind, these plans are flawless, and they will take care of everything. You’re so confident in these plans that you allow yourself to put parts of them off, or be distracted by something else — something that’s not quite so difficult to think about right now. Because after all, that thing you love is still around to love you back, and there’s still time.

But then, suddenly, there isn’t.

In a horrifying moment of stark realization, you’re speeding downhill at an alarming rate. There are no brakes, no safety belts, a wheel has come loose, and you’re not sure, but it sounds like something’s grinding. Also, you’re on fire.

Preoccupied by your distractions and plans, you didn’t realize – until now – that you’re already halfway down the hill. There is no control, no plan, and soon, there won’t be any time. And even though you saw it coming, you’re terrified.

The thing you love is not going to be there anymore, and nothing in your life could have prepared you for just how cold that makes you feel.

You blame the circumstances. Myriad causes and reasons, some known and some mysterious, that had been accumulating over time, conspiring with each other to an ultimate end. A natural decay, accelerated by compounding internal and external complications, supervised by well-meaning yet inexperienced and incapable management whose ultimate reply comes in the form of shrugged shoulders, sympathetic looks, and the phrase that defines the emotion of frustration: “there’s nothing we can do.”

This, at this moment, is entirely unacceptable. In bouts of anger you curse those who were supposed to prevent this from happening – whose jobs it was to prevent this from happening. In every action they’ve taken thus far, you perceive incompetence and missed opportunity. You remember their lies: that they’re doing everything they can, exploring all options, seeing signs of improvement, bringing in new people with better ideas, and having a good feeling that things are going to work out for the best – even if it might not be exactly the same.

While there may be nothing more powerful in this world than hope, there are few things more devastating than when that hope is false. And that’s when you see the lies of omission — what they weren’t telling you, what they say they couldn’t tell you, and when they just aren’t anywhere to be found in your time of need. For however little control is to be found in a situation like this, they’re the ones who have it, and even though your plans no longer apply, at least these professionals should have seen this coming sooner.

It might take some time, but you will realize that the lies they told were not fueled by malice, but by protection. Protection of themselves — not necessarily because they made mistakes along the way, but because nobody truly wants to be responsible for bad things. It was also protection of you, as ridiculous and insulting as that may sound, because nobody truly wants to hear bad things. And at some point in this whole process, there really may have been genuine hope, things were very close to being fixed, and miracles could have happened.

So while all of these unfamiliar feelings and notions process over and over and over again in a desperate attempt to generate something that makes sense to our earthly minds, it happens.

Just like that, you lose the thing you love.

It’s taken from you without your permission, before you decided that the time was right, and before any of your plans could be completed. In that fleeting moment immediately after it happens, everything you knew about life and your daily existence up to now disappears, and you’re left with nothing but…nothing.

Some perceive it as calm. Others call it the numbness of shock. It can even be described as peace.

Slowly but surely, those old, familiar feelings return:  grief, guilt, pain, anger, disappointment, and deep, deep sadness. But along with those also comes relief, comfort, happy memories, and even brief moments of joy.

And you realize that in that fiery piece of speeding wreckage, you weren’t alone. Not only were other people in the car with you, going through the exact same thing, there were people on the hill watching it happen. Your family, and your friends (even ones you have yet to meet). These are the people who offer the unanswerable question “is there anything I can do?” – they saw what you went through and they sympathize, either because they’ve gone down that hill before you did, or they know that one day, they’ll have to. That’s where the comfort and the joy come from – even though it felt like you may have been alone, you weren’t.

Life is all about loss. Life is nothing without loss. On this earth, time runs out for everything and everyone – if that were not the case, then there would be no point in sustaining ourselves, in developing personal relationships, in challenging ourselves and our friends to create, to succeed and make our names, to explore new places and eat delicious foods, to write our ideas for posterity and then debate them, to take pictures and home movies for the sole purpose of remembering those all-too fleeting moments.

We do all this because we know that one day we will no longer have the opportunity to do so. And every time we lose something dear to our hearts, we honor it by taking what we’ve learned from it and what we cherished about it, and carrying that on our shoulders until we, too, are lost. What we drop will be picked up by those behind us, and with so much to be happy for and proud of, there’s no room for anger or resentment.

So you say goodbye. You go to sleep, and you wake up the next day without it. And you smile, because you know that since you lost it, you will always have it.

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4 Responses to “Loss”


  1. 1 GuilleX December 22, 2009 at 3:22 am

    Sorry to hear about your loss (and everyone’s).

    By the end of the post, you got a smile out of me, so, just know that you nailed with what you wrote.

    But i’m not here to tell you this. I’d just got to your article in G4TV, the one named “The First Decade: Dear Me in 1999…”. I’m from Argentina and wanted to do a translation of the text, and publish it in a website i work (ad-honorem, just for the record): http://www.goplok.com

    I didn’t want to do that without your permission, so thats why i write this. Just couldn’t find an email address.

    I will come back and check this post for your answer, it wont be a problem if you just say no.

    Greetings from the other side of the world. :)

  2. 2 okonoko December 23, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Certainly…not a problem!

  3. 3 GuilleX December 23, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Thanks!

    I’ll link you when i’m done. I dont know when will that be, because tomorrow i begin my vacations, but i’ll link you whenever it’s done (even if you can’t understand Spanish :P )

    I took 2 of your posts: the one i mentioned before and the one of the 10 most influential games of the decade; this one i expect to be publishing it tomorrow, so, be aware.

    And… thanks a lot for the response! it means a lot for me and my team!

    Greetings from somewhere over the rainbow!

  4. 4 GuilleX January 6, 2010 at 6:21 am

    Hi there one more time!

    I’ve published the translation of your article… so… there it goes:
    http://www.goplok.com/la-primera-decada-diez-juegos-influyentes/

    I’m planning to translate a few articles more, the ones that are letters to you on the past and the one from the future. I hope to not bother you

    Greetings :D


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