- Those first moments when mom and dad somehow stopped being two perfect people.
- The times when the belief in Santa Claus became something for kids.
- The loss of that first family cat or dog.
- The curtain being moved aside to reveal the small man wizard, in so many different ways.
- The heartbreak of the first girlfriend or boyfriend ... and their untimely farewell.
- The first lawsuit when you knew you did nothing wrong.
Man, those Pop-Tarts. I know there were a bunch of kinds, such as blueberry and strawberry, but I loved the chocolate fudge Pop-Tarts. Remember those? I didn't even need them toasted, just thrown into my lunch bag so I could enjoy those treats at lunchtime. The way to eat them, for me, was to pick at the outer crust and then start in on the fudge interior. I didn't care about the 7 essential vitamins. I just wanted the chocolate, and the snack.
That's why the one day in second grade was so disheartening. I had brought my lunch bag to school as I had done for the entire year. Sandwich and chips in there, courtesy of mom. And the big treat was the Pop-Tart. And as always before class, in the early morning, all the kids put their lunch bags down at the side wall near the entrance to the classroom. I recall this one day, Rusty was asking me if I had brought a Pop-Tart or not. I didn't know why he was so interested in that.
After running around on the playground for a bit before class started, I went to my lunch bag. I picked it up. And it appeared lighter. I looked inside, and my chocolate Pop-Tart was gone. I was crushed. Who would take my Pop-Tart? How could this happen? I questioned Rusty in one of those weird ways where you try to have them admit to something but you don't know how. Looking back, why the hell is an 8-year-old having to do such maneuvering and positioning? How sad is that?
Loss is sad.
Having something taken from you is heartbreaking.
Life can hurt.
In the late 1970's Bruce Springsteen sung of broken dreams and the loss of innocence, as his unbridled joy of recording and performing was thwarted through a lawsuit brought by his previous manager Mike Appel. His song "The Promise" pointed to such brokenness.
The promise is broken, you go on living
It steals something from down in your soul
When the truth is spoken, it don't make no difference
Something in your heart goes cold
Now, no doubt, I make the story lighthearted with the tale of a Pop-Tart. But it doesn't matter when it happens. Or how it happens. Or even why. It just happens. Life comes along, with its deadbeat dudes and gals, who don't know any better. And they want to steal something from you. And whether it's a dream of Santa, a home, a job, a spouse or a simple childhood treat, the key to dealing with loss is to not let it steal your joy, your enthusiasm or your innocence.
For after all the curtains are pulled aside, to reveal every crazy and fake Wizard of Oz, we will stand in truth knowing we can never truly lose the love, the light and the innocence that is our birthright. And who knows? Maybe after that awakening, we can be treated to have returned to us those things that truly matter to us in the end.
Such as, yes you know it ...
James Anthony Ellis is a writer living in San Diego. He can be reached at www.LegacyProductions.org.