The Encampment Diaries – Loss Is A Lot

Loss Is A Lot


This has been a tough season.

I was going to write this in May, and in June, and in July, August, September… It’s been never-ending.

In the middle of May I lost a friend. He had finally made good on his promise of returning home, to rest into his final days by his family’s side. I’d known him a decade from the week he passed. He had talked to folk and said his goodbyes all year. I was not one he called. I felt so heartbroken not to at least have a sense of closure, of acceptance. It’s a scar that probably now will not heal.

Two weeks later another friend passed.

Two weeks later another friend passed.

Two weeks later, a member of the family, fostered for the time being, was sent to their ‘forever home’.

A month later, ‘forever home’ became ‘actually we can’t deal with them, have this child back’.

I have lost a lot of what little faith in humanity I had remaining at the top of 2021.

To lose someone who prepared for the end and get ready to go out as best they can is one thing, two friends had that.

To lose someone who will, in that sadness of loss, find something permanent, a place of love and long-lasting family, is another thing, I was ok with this but hurt still,

One friend, however, had just announced a book deal, this summer was going to be their summer. And then, an accident, an ending.

I’m terrible at handling the end. When my first grandmother died, it was the same time as Princess Diana. Our internal grief was forcibly rejected and coerced into national grief. We had no way to remember our own pain because the world insisted we care about someone we never met.

When my first grandfather was on the way out, my mother popped in my room as I was making a film and just said ‘It’s unlikely he will leave the hospital’, closed the door, and left me alone with this information.

I was, I think, 16.

In my younger years, at a birthday party for myself or my brother, the details are lost to the endless emptiness, the extended family had a get-together, a rare time when my brother and I, and our two similar-age cousins would see one-another and kind-of get along (As the baby, I was usually ignored or thrown about). My mother and grandmother had a moment on the other side of the garden, everyone stopped and looked, and they went back in the house. One of the men turned to us kids. ‘You know your uncle Tom?’ We didn’t have an uncle Tom, we had an older cousin, though. ‘He was in a motorbike accident. He’s dead’

Party over.

I wouldn’t see my mother for a week or so. Her crying was heard, but she hid her grief. We don’t deal with death well.

I don’t deal with death well.

Write about what scares you, lock eyes with it, try to understand it.

This is what I did with Encampment. This was a film based on fear, anger, trauma from being exploited, someone acting good but doing bad, lying to someone who only had purity, goodness. Destruction of civility.

When I write about death, which is weirdly often, though, I don’t write in finality, I don’t write in the grief. I write it as the great wash, I tend to lean towards the hope of something more. I cannot cope with the inherent knowledge that there is no more. For one, it’s narratively inert to just end, but also…as much as I know there’s nothing beyond, it’s a sickening thought that I will never know these people again. I can hear them, I can see photos of them. When I see certain objects of activities in people I know what they’d think about them. But they are just echoes, nothing new, nothing more.

So many people have died, these past few years careless leaders have caused destruction unfathomable on any empathic level, those of us with that power are hurting beyond possibility, the numbness we desire now is unattainable, we just feel the screaming of humanity in the wake of monstrousness.

I wanna be numb. But also need to be numb with others. The isolation in the process of grief is an impossibility that has led to some dark nights of the soul. Thankfully it’s been during the summer so those nights are short.

But then there’s the people that spent half a year looking at taking in a child that has been through A LOT OF SHIT, they are aware of the challenges, and embrace the possibility. And a month later need to be rid of the child, to keep the life they’ve known before. The built up the hopes and love of a child only to throw them away like they were nothing.

Trust issues run deep within me. So many have done the same to me, but I guess I had the construct of family to hang on to, if not the deep resonance of what family is meant to be emotionally, intellectually.

To throw, however, someone who is too young and not had such structure into the void of life, there are some people who just are unacceptable. I’m glad, though, that since they’ve returned to this family for now, for a brief time, we’ve re-engaged our silly fun goofy connection, and making them smile, be it to distract or a genuine enjoyment of being funny, has brought some hope in this hopelessness.

Adults are monsters.

I’ve never felt like an adult.

Anyway, I’m looking into turning Encampment into a book, diary over.

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