Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Peach Theory

I've had a bit of a hectic week.  I didn't mention in my last post but during the Pride celebrations of last-last Sunday, my grandmother, Patricia Lawless Baker, passed away.  I figured I'd rather separate the incredibly joyful experience of being open and happy with my community of friends from the heavy reality of my grandma dying.  It was kind of a shocker, particularly as I had found out on my way back from Pride via phone call from my mom.  I remember I was standing in the Montgomery Bart Station and after I had gotten off the phone I began to panic over what I should do with the news.

Do I tell the people I'm with this just happened or...or pretend like it didn't...because they look happy and they're laughing and this would definitely not be something they could laugh about or be happy about.  Maybe I should wait until I get home...?

Luckily, my friends did all the work for me and just asked me about my family.  That made it way easier.  Although the conversation was definitely not your average one.

"What are you up to tonight?"

"Oh...I'm uh...going to hang out with my family.  Touch bases with them."

"That's cool.  Did you have anything specific in mind?"

"No, well uh... yea, see um... my grandma just passed away."

"Oh!  I'm so sorry.  When did she pass away?"

 "Oh uh...about uh...2 hours ago."

"Oh my god!"

The Missing Links

In a frantic attempt to recover some sort of control over my life in the wake of this, I decided to do a bit of investigation into what it means to miss someone.  I decided to check into the psychological background of the word and also the linguistic history of the words we use to describe it.  I like feeling productive in times of stress.

I started off with my trusty OED.

I don't handle books well.  I blame being forced to read The Narnia Chronicles as a child by an over-zealous C.S Lewis fan for a mother. 

I started off with the basics.  I looked up "to miss" and the standard definitions popped up: absence, loss, lacking, etc.  But, I realized that more than once the idea of making a hit or miss--a sort of sporty, competitive edge to the word--was the general root definition each meaning kept coming back to.  I find it ironic that this word is also a homonym for the honorific "Miss" for women.  Take THAT sport-chauvinists! 

This then spun me into a sort of confused path of trying to associate sport/competition with emotions.  Do we compete with ourselves--how we view ourselves--over our memories of a person we've lost?  What about the people we miss who are still alive?  Are we competing with the fantasy of that person versus the reality of their existence?

This is getting trippy.

So that's when I decided to look up the psychological effects of the emotion that is involved with missing someone.

I Was Feeling Lucky

I turned to Google--think, a more annoying OED with a grey, green and blue Arial 10 font.  I started to type "the psychological effects of missing someone" into google and this is what happened as I typed:

I stopped feeling lucky.  Apparently, the biggest love-song inspiration to have ever hit the human psyche is also the least-googled psychological study, which leads me to believe there just isn't a big conversation about it happening today.  

No, But Really.  What's Happening In My Brain When This Is Happening?

Maybe it's just me, but I think this means that emotions such as loss or lacking are always written about in the context of being an effect, and not a whole emotion in of themselves.

There are then consequential emotional disorders that come of missing or lacking--self-esteem disorders, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, insecurity, etc. 

But, the emptiness--the hole inside that is created, the emotional cavity is not exactly examinable.  Most articles I read on the brain effects, or chemical releases that occur when the human brain experiences emotional longing say there isn't much to go off of.  Once an experience becomes wholly emotional it is very difficult to track physically in the human body.

The Peach Theory

If I could, I'd like to come up with my own physical analogy, since science seems to be leaving me in the dust this week.

Bear with me, but emotional longing or missing feels to me sort of like a heavily bruised peach.  I said bear with me.  I've got this.

If you think of it this way, it's really tender--and oh so ripe for artistic expression--and we can live off of it for only so long.  Once you get down to the core of it--the root for why you were missing someone in the first place, it looks raw, almost brutal in nature.  But, it is also the nexus, the root and idea of a new beginning.  To miss someone can become the inspiration for so many new beginnings.

My grandma wanted and encouraged me to be a writer.  She encouraged me to remember and discover our family history.  To learn and be encouraged to learn were the many things she revitalized in my life these last few months.  It was one of the many things I got to share with her before her passing.  And that, to me, is a wonderful beginning. 



  1. <3

    Sorry, Beryl. Yet, what a beautiful post!

  2. I completely, completely agree about the bruised peach theory. I couldn't put it better. It makes me imagine this peach that used to be so sweet, so tangy and great, and now is just a mess, and leaves your fingers sticky. You're making my heart sore just thinking about the analogy. Loss is so hard, Beryl, but luckily your Grandma gave you wonderful gifts to keep even while you hold the bruised peach. Just take it day by day. You are awesome. *hug*

  3. Cecily - Thank you. It's appreciated.

    Victoria - Thanks for reading! Yea...I think this is the best way I can physically explain this kind of pain. It's awkward to hold and also awkward to explain, ha. Thanks also for being there when I got the call--you two were so sweet to me even though I think I was going into shock/awkward/stiff mode. Thank you.

  4. no thanks necessary, Beryl, I've been there and it's always tough. Sorry if we smothered you with hugs. It's kinda how we roll.