The (important) Good, the (important) Bad, and the (important) Ugly of Loss

Three years ago, not COVID related, I lost my sense of smell. It happened almost nonchalantly, like noticing your shirt button is missing. I’ve since been through surgeries, and all sorts of various remedies. In that time period, there have been a few miracle moments when I might get a whiff of flowers, peppermint or wine. But those vanish as quickly as they come. One day, for nearly several hours, I could smell everything I put up to my nose. This occurred late in the evening, and I was so excited (enthralled actually) that I jumped around the house pulling out spice jars and condiments and jellies and colognes and… I didn’t even want to go to sleep. But alas, in the morning it was back to scentless. 

It’s so easy to take something for granted when we have it. But when we lose it, ahhh, there’s regret and angst and a kind of mourning and pining for that lost thing.

What would it be like if you suddenly woke up blind? Or if your significant other did? Or one of your children? How would the world automatically change? 

What if you lost the ability to speak? How would you communicate or share important, even crucial information, such as that you were suffering, or couldn’t breathe?

What if you tackle magic realism, and your character wakes up without arms or legs? Maybe missing his/her head? What possibilities could enfold? 

In “The Dogs of Babel,” by Carolyn Parkhurst, the narrator’s wife falls out of a tree and dies. The only witness to the event is the couple’s dog, and the husband’s curiosity about his wife’s death, and why the hell she was even climbing that tree, is so enormous, that he sets out teaching his dog how to talk to learn the details. It’s a wonderful book. Try taking a twist or two on that idea. What lengths will loss take us to? How inventive can we become? Try it from a magic realism standpoint, where animals can talk, rocks can speak, the skies sing.