Question of the Week: Loss *CONTEST ALERT*

by Susan Henderson on January 7, 2008

What have you learned from losing something or someone important to you?

This question covers the whole gamut from death of a loved one to being dumped to losing your belongings in a hurricane to losing family members to mental illness to having your doctoral dissertation disappear because of a computer virus. Loss. And more specifically, I’m looking for stories in which you’ve gained something positive – whether it is about hope, strength, or a lesson learned. Surprise me.


This week is a little different than usual. You can answer here, as always. Consider this your brainstorming. Your rough draft. But if you want to be a part of the contest, you’ll have to answer over here, at Charles Shaughnessy’s place. Charlie is going to give you more detailed rules:

Please enter! This is a great opportunity to find a whole new realm of readers and exposure for your writing. And remember, to be officially entered in the contest, you must send your answer to Charlie and not to me – good luck!


Wednesday, I have two special guests, singer David Habbin and songwriter Robin Lerner. Together, they will discuss their collaboration on Morning Song. Please stop by and join the conversation!

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

SusanHenderson January 6, 2008 at 11:14 pm

I’m going to post the contest rules here. Also, I know, I know I’m behind on comments. It’s been a very busy week and when I find the time, I’m dying to jump in. Okay, these are the rules for entering the contest.

Deadline: Sunday, midnight 17 February, 2008
word count: 200 words or less
send to:
have this as the email header: MORNING SONG: The Writing Competition
Go here for more details:


lance_reynald January 7, 2008 at 12:25 am

awesome contest!
love it!

but, I’m gonna excuse myself on grounds of wordcount and, um….er….Litpark tenure…?

but, best of luck everyone! Awesome contest, some of the best writing I’ve ever seen or done comes from this place.

xo. LR


Jonathan Evison January 7, 2008 at 8:33 am

. . . i’ve learned that loss always leaves a little hole that can’t be filled . . . i suppose that sounds obvious, but boy, can they add up . . . i like to plant a little something pretty in those holes and fill around the edges so that i have a garden of loss i can walk around in, rather than some sort of moonscape of loss in which i’m always twisting an ankle or losing golf balls . . .


EkEkEkEk07 January 7, 2008 at 9:52 am

tough topic.

i fear i may come across as self-pitying here. it may not be the time… the story of a camper who hugged me and wouldn’t let go. and then he did let go. he danced away. he moved on. i saw him go. i felt him go. he’s gone.


i will talk about my pet salamander instead.

i found a pet salamander in a pond. i caught him by slowly moving my cupped hands toward him, and scooped him right up. it’s a very challenging task. try it. i took him home. my mom said, “you can keep him.” he was a little baby, brown with two greenish lines down his back. he had cute feathery frills sticking out of his ears. i called him squiggler. i put squiggler in a tupperware bowl, and used a mesh placemat as a temporary lid. i put a big rock in the bowl for him to sunbathe on and almost accidentally crushed him. he escaped in the middle of the night. i searched and searched. i cried so hard. my brother said, “can you buy doug a newt?” my mom said, “he found one, he can find another. i don’t want these things dying all over my house!!!” i cried myself to sleep and dreamed that i found him.

it took two years, but i finally found another salamander. he had the same frillies. i held him in my hand. i called him laura wingfield. i let him go. i waved him off. “so goodbye, little salamander…” he loved the pond life too much to come home and live in a tupperware bowl.

post scriptum – i can’t figure out how to log in to litpark. please explain.


EkEkEkEk07 January 7, 2008 at 9:53 am

hahah. i was already logged in. scratch post scriptum.


Kimberly January 7, 2008 at 10:22 am

I guess my most recent big loss is one that I’ve mentioned here already, but I lost my “4 Million Dollar Man” last April. We were developing my feature and put all of our stock in investors who were very interested in funding the project. We had jumped through flaming hoops and tap danced on nail beds for them, but when push came to shove and it was time to deliver that elusive check, they vanished and our dancing was silenced.

Besides being an obvious hazard against dozens-of-eggs-in-a-single-basket-putting, it was a bigger lesson in the endurance required to accomplish any dream.

After allowing myself to mourn the loss, which was extremely important to do, I finally was able to pick myself up and revisit the project and found I had new hindsight bifocals! I was able to find flaws that I’m delighted I didn’t discover with the meter running on set, I have a clearer trajectory for the long(er) road ahead and I can see now that I didn’t fail, I was merely delayed.

So I’m tightening the screws on my taps and with my Zippo in hand, I’m ready to once again, set those hoops ablaze.

(HA! 197 words! That THAT NaNoWriMo!)


Aurelio January 7, 2008 at 11:30 am

I feel like I was just assigned homework.

Okay, here’s my entry:

When I was eight years old, my brother and I built a treasure in a wooden cigar box full of rhinestones we pried from our mother’s old costume jewelry, some aluminum Presidential coins, and rocks we spray-painted gold. Then we soaked a piece of paper in lemon juice and ironed it to make it a mottled brown, burned the edges rough, and drew a map on it.

My brother let me draw the map because I could draw better than him, but he got to burn the edges because he was older.

We were what they now call latch-key kids; our mother died a year earlier from cancer. She was a farm girl and never could afford expensive jewelry; she probably wouldn’t have minded us dismantling hers, and Dad was off at work all day.

We buried the treasure in the back yard, exactly where I had drawn the ornately serifed “X”.

A year later, Dad decided to move, so we dug for our treasure, but we couldn’t find it.

I realize now, it didn’t matter. We had buried two treasures, but the end results weren’t the important parts, the parts to dwell on; the joy was in the making.


robinslick January 7, 2008 at 12:04 pm

I think I’ll save my story for “Charlie’s” site but mine involves losing my virginity using saran wrap instead of a condom.

Oh, I’m kidding.

(Or am I?)

I am embarrassed to say I do not know who Charlie is because other than The Simpsons and Family Guy, I do not watch television, but can I just say that between watching Charlie and David Habbin on that You Tube, Anglophile that I am, my entire morning was made.

Oh, those faces. Oh, that accent. I have serious chills right now!

Sorry. I’m making jokes and it’s a serious topic.

But if nothing else, I’m honest. And they took my mind off of the edits I’m working on with my heart in my mouth…

Now excuse me while I play that You Tube on last time before getting back to my writing.


Kimberly January 7, 2008 at 12:10 pm

Robin! Your comments always make me snort with laughter! 🙂


Nathalie January 7, 2008 at 1:01 pm

Sounds like a GREAT story…


Nathalie January 7, 2008 at 1:11 pm

My blasted word counter went in TILT.
I started at 200 words, deleted a few sentences and now am at a ripe 322, somehow.
And now back to 188, which should be more like it…


aimeepalooza January 7, 2008 at 5:27 pm

As any regulars here probably know I lost my grandmother in April of 07. Can it be nearly a year? Anyway, somehow, while losing her I was able to find my sister. And, she was pregnant with my beautiful nephew. So I lost my Grandmother but I got back my Sister and got to meet MY, yes, MY as I adore him, baby Drake.
Obviously this is the short version.


Laura Benedict January 7, 2008 at 5:29 pm

OMGosh, Susan. This song breaks my heart–especially knowing it reflects the sadness of someone who has lost a child. Beautiful.

I wish I were able to take the time right now to write something that would do the subject justice. But if I don’t finish this next novel in the next few weeks, I’ll be in big trouble.

(I’ve been a fan of Charles S. since he was on “Days.” *sigh* He just gets cuter…)


chuckles January 7, 2008 at 8:52 pm

Dad’s been a tough nut for as long as I’ve known him, but when Connie came into his life things really changed. I’d never seen him happier before. There was so much that Dad had never learned, and Connie spent a decade teaching him.

Two years ago Constance was diagnosed with cancer. We visited her as she went from hospital to home care to hospice; she talked to me privately about how to help dad live with his grief and guilt and fear. When I kissed her my final goodbye a week before she passed, she could barely move her lips.

It’s been a year and more Dad’s been alone. I try to help him live without anger. It’s hard. He’s an old man now who’s loved and lost twice over. I call him up, long distance, but his hearing is poor and my words are often lost on him. I wish I could do more. So does he, but such is life.

Constance, I miss you terribly. I wish we could still have our conversations, drinks and laughs. But if I could trade all that for my father’s happiness, you know I’d do it in a heartbeat.

198. decent.


SusanHenderson January 8, 2008 at 8:32 am

I’m so glad to read these responses! And I know many of you are writing away, and good luck to everyone. There’s something about hope that comes out of despair that moves me more than any other emotion.

Robin, you made me laugh so hard!

Okay, sorry not to make individual comments but I’ve been so busy. Mostly, I just wanted you all to know I was here and reading your responses and very grateful to know all of you.


SusanHenderson January 8, 2008 at 12:41 pm

And off-topic, I’ve been practically in tears (of hope) all day with the election news.

Love this article:


troutbum70 January 10, 2008 at 8:52 pm

In the past two years I’ve lost my father, my job and my marriage. I can’t have my dad back but I like my new job better and I met a woman who makes me smile like an idiot all the time.
Loss touches everyone, we can’t avoid it, what we do with it is what shapes us. Every day dawns and the world keeps spinning so we must rise and face the loss or let it control us forever.
I’ve come to realize that bad things can and will happen to me and I should cherish each and every day and each and every person who graces my life.


SusanHenderson January 11, 2008 at 2:06 pm

Thanks for this, Michael.


maryanne Stahl January 12, 2008 at 1:48 pm

lovely song, interesting contest but I don’t quite understand what sort of writing is wanted, despite having watched the vid and read the site. a personal story, such as those posted here? an original flash or poem? a response to the song itself? I know I’m a bit brain dead and probably missed something.

I loved Aurelio’s story and think it could be developed into a strong piece of fiction.


SusanHenderson January 12, 2008 at 2:30 pm

Any of the above, whatever you’re moved to write. Think memoir crossed with flash fiction. Does that help?

And if 200 words seems too short, here’s a little Hemingway to inspire you:

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” (God, I love Hemingway.)


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