Losses Happen to Everyone: Writer’s Quote Wednesday

Yesterday was the third anniversary of my younger brother’s passing. Unlike earlier years,  remembrance of his passing felt peaceful. I did not entertain sadness when looking at his beautiful smile in the photo that sits at my desk. I honored his wish of being remembered with happiness.  I felt stronger.

This morning I read a message from his teenage daughter on Facebook.  A girl who painfully misses her Dad and doesn’t accept the emptiness of his absence. A girl who feels her peace went way with him and asks him to nevertheless keep it, but to come back to her.  It is heartbreaking.

These are the moments that render me speechless. “It happens to everyone, but you feel it alone.”  Helen Macdonald said that beautifully in her book, H Is for Hawk. She said more. And that is my quote for this week.

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We can not subjugate losses and absences. I wish for my niece ‘to grow around and between the gaps’ and find peace in her heart.

If you want to know more about the author, here it is:

Helen Macdonald is a writer, poet, historian, illustrator and naturalist. She’s worked as a Research Fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge, as a professional falconer, and in raptor research and conservation projects across Eurasia. She is an affiliate of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. She lives in Suffolk, UK.
Her book H Is for Hawk is a Winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize and is also a New York Times Bestseller.
Here is an extract of the book review by Christian House, The Telegraph.
“The hawk had filled the house with wildness as a bowl of lilies fills a house with scent. It was about to begin,” writes Helen Macdonald in H Is for Hawk, a book filled with the elemental heft of hawks and the lingering bouquet of death. It opens with the sudden loss of Macdonald’s father, a successful Fleet Street photojournalist, from a heart attack. In the wake of his death, Macdonald buys a goshawk, names it Mabel and begins the slow waltz of its training.

A historian at Cambridge, she has the countryside at her feet and the need to fill her time. Mabel in return needs endless supplies of chick meat and a reason to trust. When the bird emerges blinking and jittery from a box on a Scottish quay, her new owner is instantly bewitched. “Two enormous eyes. My heart jumps sideways. She is a conjuring trick,” writes Macdonald. “A griffin from the pages of an illuminated bestiary.”

Lay readers will soon realise that comparing a hawk with a falcon is akin to comparing the Beatles with the Stones. Goshawks are the bad boys of the sky and Mabel is Mick, Keith, Ronnie and Charlie all rolled into one furious flurry of feathers. Hawks are bigger and more feral than falcons and training one is no mean feat. The taming of Mabel is told in the fruity vocabulary of the falconer, a delightfully arcane lexicon. “Hawks don’t wipe their beaks, they feak. When they defecate they mute,” explains Macdonald. Her days are soon taken up with jesses (leather straps) and sails (wings).

From Gavin Maxwell’s Ring of Bright Water to Richard Mabey’s Nature Cure, there is a long literary tradition of paying tribute to the curative company of animals. And Macdonald knows only too well in whose wellingtons she walks, referencing the work of Peter Matthiessen and William Fiennes among many writers who have found their way back to happiness by muddy, paw-and-claw marked paths.

One predecessor stands out for her. T H White’s 1951 study, The Goshawk, provided her with a childhood starting point for her obsession with these brooding birds. White – closet homosexual and sadomasochist – used falconry to flee his own character. “My reasons weren’t White’s,” notes Macdonald, “but I was running just the same.” Throughout her tale she refracts White’s experiences into her own. “I have to write about him,” she states, “because he was there.” This delightful book is therefore a memoir of training a goshawk, a diary of grief and a peek inside the troubled mind of T H White.

This post is for Silver Threading Writer’s Quote Wednesday Event. 

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Sharing sights & insights captured with diverse angles. Ex-corporate slave, now my own boss. Cycling, hiking, cooking, reading, yoga, writing and photography, are no longer only hobbies listed on my resume. It's what I do, when I want.

55 thoughts on “Losses Happen to Everyone: Writer’s Quote Wednesday

  1. Lucile, it’s courageous of you to share your heartbreak with us. McDonald’s book is one that I will read over and over. Saw it reviewed a few weeks ago, and await its arrival. Thinking of your family and you.

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    1. Heartfelt thanks for your support and heartwarming words, Sally.
      I’m fine but just wish I could help my beloved niece to overcome her sorrow.
      It’s lovely that you bought the same book. Please let me know your impressions.
      Thanks for your generosity and compassion.

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  2. Oh hun, that brought tears to my eyes. And you pulled out the part of the quote that resonates the most – growing around and between the gaps. The whole quote is perfect actually and so true.
    My heartfelt condolences and I have the same wish for your niece. Xxxxxxxx

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    1. Heartfelt thanks, my friend. This quote is so good and speaks on behalf of my heart. I truly hope she will finally accept this loss and move on. She’s doing much better but March 17th is a tough day to handle. I posted last year about him and also have some of his photos on Instagram. But I decided to not do anything and stop posting to not increase her pain.
      Thanks again DJ. You’re a sweetheart. Xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I believe that people I love and places dear to me that are no longer here are still very much alive in my heart. Our bonds were so strong that they are with me always although not in their physical body. Everything changes aroud us but I believe that the love bonds cannot be touched by death. However it takes time to recover after a loss.
    I hope your niece finds consolation and peace soon.
    Emilia ox

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A big heartfelt thank you, Emilia. You described so well the feeling of loss of a loved one. It’s the best and most comforting way to accept the physical absence. I truly believe in that. I am grateful for your compassion and support to my niece’s suffering. Much appreciated.
      Lucile xx

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    1. Tildy, heartfelt thank you. It’s been 3 years and I’ve learnt to accept it. He’s present in my life as his love stayed with us. And I have plenty of photos and videos to look at his pretty smile. 🙂
      Our focus as a family is entirely on making sure that my sis in law and niece stay well.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My condolences big sis… ❤️ but as much as life takes, as much it also gives and there comes the day when we understand that letting go of the sadness means letting go of being selfish, of that selfish feeling that it was our right to have whatever we wanted to. After that the sun can shine again. At least that’s how it was for me while losing my family.

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    1. Heartfelt thank you, little sis!! You’re very right in everything you said. I could not agree more.
      I always accepted his death because he suffered so much with his disease and to go was the end of it. It would be selfish to wish to postpone his end. It’s hard, it hurts but I learnt to live with his absence and cherish all good memories. I’m an adult though and live moved on. It’s more difficult for his wife and kid to find peace.
      Your example is the best one can have that it’s possible to overcome loss, and it gives me hope for their future.
      Thank you so much. 😘

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am so sorry to hear the story of your brother passing but am pleased to hear that three years out you have found acceptance and are able to honor his wish of being remembered with happiness. I hope his daughter can find peace at some point soon. I can appreciate that her pain runs very deep. The lose of a parent in your youth is a horrific pain to bear. My heart is with you and her on your extended family on this day.

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  6. Dearest Lucile,
    To honor your brother in remembering him in happiness is such a beautiful tribute… I’m so sorry for his loss…I can feel that he is still guiding light in your life… What a special post and quote on the anniversary of his passing… May his daughter soon feel the same peace that you are feeling now…
    Many heartfelt hugs,
    Lia

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dearest Lia,
      I like to believe that it’s not only his photo who is by my side every single day. I think of him and look for his light when I am troubled with my thoughts, just trying to emulate the talks we had in the same moments, when he was still alive. It always gives me peace to think of him, and to look at his beautiful smile makes remember the reason of his happiness.
      I have been by his side, most of the times I could make it possible, during his 4 year cancer treatment. For that I learnt a lot from him, on how to find peace and acceptance when facing problems, disease, and death. I now try to pass his way of thinking on to his daughter, and hope she will finally find peace and happiness.
      Heartfelt thanks for your beautiful and compassionate message, my friend.
      Have a wonderful weekend.
      Heartfelt hugs back at you.
      Lucile

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What an amazing sister and woman you are… And your brother sounds like an equally amazing man… Your gift of peace and happiness that you both possess will surely be transferred to his daughter, in due time… She’s lucky to have you both.
        Greetings from snowy NYC… Only 3-4 inches this time… We are lucky.
        Many hugs to you on this Sunday morning,
        Lia

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  7. I can relate to her pain…my Dad passed 3 years ago February yet thankfully this year, like you, I felt the peace of his wonderful beingness no longer enveloped in the dark cloud of grief. I send you so much love…for you & your neice. Muah muah muah!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry to hear about your loss too. My late condolences.
      Only those who felt that can really understand how it develops in our hearts and minds. Heartfelt thanks for sending love to us. Well received and appreciated immensely. Love back at you, sweetie. Xxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  8. No words for you today Lucille…just plenty hugs and ❤ please send a lot of these hugs and ❤ to your niece. I won't tell her the feeling will get any better, perhaps it will (eventually) but for now I join your prayers for her that she experiences PEACE.

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