Category Archives: On Loss
by Susan Warren Utley
Sad and awkward goodbyes
Introducing Flash Fridays on Creative Procrastination:
I found this little poem in one of my journals today. At first I couldn’t recall what happened that day or what inspired me. Seems like I’ve had to say a lot of goodbyes lately. Then it hit me. This was my first Unemployed Friday after five and a half years of delighting in Early Go Fridays with Sporthill/Amdega. On Early Go Fridays, the factory in England closed down at about 10:30 East Coast Time and more often than not, my boss would send me home early extending my weekend as well. The day the factory closed forever I got more than just a few extra hours added to my Early Go Friday. It was a very surreal day for me but fortunately while some of the goodbyes were final, a few were just “for now.” Even though we no longer share an office, I get together about once a week with my good friend Donna over at Twin Creeks Musings to swap farm stories, share craft ideas and brainstorm on how we’re going to become millionaires.
As for moving forward, I feel good about the direction I’m heading in. The writing is going well and I am making progress in the editing phase of the manuscript. Even Creative Procrastination is getting much needed attention without taking too much time away from the writing goals. In an effort to keep the content fresh, while at the same time adhering to the new writing schedule, I recently added Wordless Wednesdays in which I feature a simple photo to be viewed for pleasure or to act as a writing prompt. I wish I could say it was my brainchild but if you do a quick Google search you’ll find it a regular feature on many blogs. Now, in honor of the passing of Early Go Fridays but still in keeping with the general idea of adding just a few extra hours to my weekend, I am introducing Flash Fridays. Here I will feature pithy little posts of flash fiction, poetry, or other tidbits that might strike my fancy. This one is my brainchild and has no connection with the Flash Friday of urban legend in which hot chicks flash their boobs alongside California highways. There will be no boob flashing here.
Yes, my weekends are pretty long these days and even though I’ll never get to own an Amdega Summerhouse, I haven’t let go of the idea of building my own Writing Shed. For now, it is a work in progress. Kind of like me. Featured last week on Wordless Wednesday, here’s a photo of my new summer office and future riverside location of my dream Writing Shed, plans currently in revision.
They say that even the smallest of ripples can alter a shoreline a single grain of sand at a time. On Wednesday morning the world’s oldest conservatory maker closed its doors without warning, leaving hundreds of dedicated workers without jobs. In the town of Darlington, England, people scrambled to protect those left unpaid and unemployed, while others struggled with increasing resentment directed at the investment firm they believe failed to deliver on promises made and ultimately turned its back on its employees. The ripples of change were set in motion and it didn’t take long for those ripples to cross the great pond. By Thursday morning I too found myself within the ranks of the unemployed.
I’ve spent the past five years of my life working for a small company importing fine English conservatories to the United States. I enjoyed a comfortable salary in a casual office environment with great hours and good people, very good people. In a moment, it was all taken away. How does one deal with such a blow? Actually it feels a little surreal. For me, it was a bit like being a tiny particle riding a gentle wave. One moment I was at the crest moving forward, tying up loose ends, clearing my desk, and packing up my things. The next moment I felt as though I was in the trough of the wave, moving in the opposite direction, and gaining little forward motion. It was a slow drift from arriving at work in the morning prepared to deal with the circumstances head on, to walking out the door with my coffee cup in a cardboard box.
It wasn’t until late in the evening that the shock of the day began to wear off and the gentle ripple gained momentum on me. I didn’t eat dinner, because I had no appetite. I stayed up late, because I had nowhere to be in the morning. Around midnight, my heart began to feel heavy. This was my job. These were my friends. This was my life. I sell conservatories. I draw little glass buildings for people who live in big houses. I liked my job and it was taken away because an investment firm, who called themselves Endless, closed the doors on a 137-year-old company after only nine months calling it “unfortunate and unforeseeable.” I wonder if now they can see the changes made by the endless ripples they set in motion.
Today is Friday. On any normal Friday I’d be at the office following up on leads, responding to emails and doing a bit of drawing. But today is far from normal. I spent the morning trying to figure out where we could cut corners and how I might earn some extra income to soften the blow. Eventually I had to go outside and take a deep breath. Now I find myself sitting at my computer reading new blogs, responding to comments and doing a bit of writing. I think maybe it is time to dust off that manuscript. Yes, I’m still feeling a bit out of sorts, but I know that with every ending comes a new beginning. I’m setting my own ripples in motion. These are my ripples of change. Today is a new Friday with endless possibilities.
I’ve been busy working on a very special quilt block dedicated to the memory of our son, Tyler Grant Utley. It is to be included in the 16th Annual Washington Regional Transplant Community’s Donor Family Remembrance Quilt. Each quilt honors those who have so generously donated the gift of life. Tyler’s square was pinned on April 11, 2011 at the annual family gathering.
Our dear son Tyler was born December 1st, 1981 in Shreveport, Louisiana. He passed away on January 22nd, 2010 at Stafford Hospital Center in Stafford, Virginia at the age of 28.
Tyler was happiest when he was among friends and family. His smile was contagious and when he laughed he did so without restraint. He always enjoyed a good game of pool or a round of golf. Whether he was camping, fishing or just walking the dogs along the river, Tyler loved the outdoors. If you watched Tyler while he gazed upon a sunset, a starry sky or a tree filled landscape, you knew he appreciated the beauty of our earth.
Tyler loved hard work. If it didn’t make him sweat it wasn’t worth doing. He could swing a hammer as well as he swung an ax. A concrete walkway to our front door bears the signs of his labor. You knew he had put in a hard day’s work when you saw the pride in his eyes as he showed you the blisters upon his hands.
Everyone who knew Tyler, knew that if he could have had one wish come true, it would have been to serve his country as a soldier. Although his dream was not realized, Tyler was a true patriot who loved God and his country and the ideas and principals on which it was founded.
On Friday, January 22nd, 2010, shortly before 5:00 p.m., we said our final goodbyes as Tyler was taken to surgery to carry out his wishes to be an organ donor. Although we mourn the loss of our beloved son, brother, grandson, husband, and father, it is of great consolation to us that through his passing he has given the gifts of life, future, and hope to the recipients and their families.
My son, how proud I am to be your father. One day I will meet you in heaven at the cabin you will build alongside a river and we will cut wood together and compare the blisters upon our hands. Until then, oh how I will miss you. I love you. Love, Dad
from tragedy emerged the wounded heart
tormented by grief
tortured and robbed
deafened by the sound of perpetual throb
pierced and gaping
calloused and forced
to beat within the hollows of a walking corpse
from deception was born the troubled mind
confused by questions
offended by lies
rendered crippled, uncertain from incessant whys
marred and misled
to brood within the hollows of the corpse’s head
from war came forth the body unscathed
no scars on the trunk
all limbs remain
detached from the roots the self went insane
no outward affliction
seen by the blind
just hollow corpse imprisoning heart and mind