Day 4, Loss at the Cemetry Gates

Loss. Where do we begin when we talk of loss? It’s so easy to talk of loss as an ending. But given time, you realise that the loss is just a beginning. It will be more sorrowful in the days, weeks, months, or even years to come. Yet, it will prepare us to who we will become.

Death. Breakups. Failures. We will all go through that, in a similar vein that metal needs to go through fire and hammer to take form.

I lost my Dad when I was 6. He was a military officer. I am an only child, and my Mom was left alone to take care of me. But we were never truly alone as we belong to a huge provincial family. They never left and for that I am grateful.

But things changed after my Dad’s death, as things do when there is loss. I was spoiled and everybody went out of their way to spoil me even more. I was cushioned and protected from all the other possible pains in the world.

I didn’t learn how to bike, I might skin my knees.

I had service to go through and from school, I might get hurt on the way.

I was never left alone, I might get too lonely.

It was suffocating. Given some distance, I do appreciate the love and effort that everybody extended my way. But as I grew up, I learned to fight my way to independence.

I fought. I rebelled. I exploded.

I moved to college when I was sixteen. I was scared. But it was the beginning of fire that lit up inside of me. Time and again, I felt that fire grow dim, but it never died.

I finally have my independence. I studied hard. I made new friends. I worked hard. There would be times that I would go back home to live, when life gets too tough and I have no money to survive. But the independence never went away.

I am myself. In a constant process of being and becoming.

Yet, the pain of loss never really goes away. It is always there.

There are times that I would remember. I would have a quiet moment. I would cry.

I remember when my Dad would take me to the amusement park. He is a great shot and he can win candies and toys shooting at the fair. He would carry me when I am tired. He would play with me often. Or as often as he can, given that he is away for most days.

I still have that tiny 3-wheeled red bike that he got me when I was very young. He did let me ride a bike, but he had to go away before I really learned how to.

They say you need to learn balance when you learn how to ride a bike. For a long time, there is no balance in my life.

But maybe later on.


Maybe someday, I’ll see my Dad at the cemetry gates.

We’ll talk.

I remember not crying during his wake. I only cried in the church, as I was holding the incense. I remember thinking that we would never play again and I wish I had more time to play with him. It was the only time I cried when I was 6.

I will cry many times over growing up, until now. Today. At this moment.

I want to ask my Dad if he ever read John Keats. Or does he prefer Oscar Wilde?

I want to tell him I visited the house that Keats died in. He was overlooking the Spanish Steps by the Piazza di Spagna in Rome. Keats loved Rome most and I saw why.

Or would he prefer to talk about Oscar Wilde and his take on the human condition of the 19th century?

I discovered Cemetry Gates by The Smiths when I read Love is a Mixtape. I’ve always remembered him whenever I play this song. I want to ask my Dad if he ever listened to The Smiths, did he have the time?

What music did he listen to? What books did he read?

I know he loved Blowing in the Wind and that he read The Art of War. Copies are still at home.

But what did he think of them?

What did he love? Hate? What were his passions? What made him laugh? Are we the same? Different?

I can romanticise as Keats and Yeats. But reality is, Oscar Wilde is on my side.

My Dad, will always be remembered, not only as he was lost, but as he lived.

He lived. He loved. He died.


Note: Day 4 is really challenging. Loss is hard to talk about. My key loss is the loss of my Dad at a very young age. I had to grow up and learn how to deal with such a loss, while most of my peers are running about in the playground. And the twist is that there are two more articles to follow-up the first one. Like so many others, I’ve had loss in my life but whether or not I would want to share it is another story. I used The Smiths as an anchor. Music makes it easier somehow, yet more deeply felt.



  1. HumaAq Avatar

    Very touching piece..

    1. Portia Placino Avatar
      Portia Placino

      Thank you.

  2. HumaAq Avatar

    And feel sorry for your loss, wish you strength

    1. Portia Placino Avatar
      Portia Placino

      Again, thank you. Writing helps, always.

  3. Priceless Joy Avatar
    Priceless Joy

    This was very heart-touching and I felt glued to reading it from the beginning. Your emotions come across very well and you engage your readers. You got me emotionally involved. It was very sweet.

    1. Portia Placino Avatar
      Portia Placino

      Thank you very much. Your comment is very sweet and encouraging. I’ve always felt fear when trying to write about emotions. It’s heart-warming to read comments like yours, I never thought I have the capacity to engage.

      1. Priceless Joy Avatar
        Priceless Joy

        You did an excellent job. Try not to be afraid, you are spreading your wings and it seems a little scary at first but gets easier.

        1. Portia Placino Avatar
          Portia Placino

          Thank you. This would need some getting used to. But it is a very liberating feeling.

  4. desleyjane Avatar

    Beautiful and heartfelt Portia, I am so very sorry for your lost moments.

    1. Portia Placino Avatar
      Portia Placino

      Thank you. I greatly appreciate this.

  5. Christoph_Orr Avatar

    This must have been a very difficult challenge for you. Not only in writing, but in coping with your loss.
    The final passage of unanswered questions is particularly touching. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    1. Portia Placino Avatar
      Portia Placino

      Yes it was. It is something that will always be with me. Each of us has sorrow and it is always challenging. Thank you for reading and sharing the journey.

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