This anthology deals with the pain, the surprises, and, in some cases, the gifts that can come with all kinds of loss: of loved ones, home, memory, weight, certainties, roles…. from a wide range of perspectives. I was pleasantly surprised both by the breadth and scope of the book and by how connected it still feels.
The editors describe their project this way: “Loss, like love, deepens with living. Defining loss travels beyond grief. It is more than saying goodbye, surviving destruction, or facing deprivation. Loss means letting go, moving on, and finding the light again. Lost items, lost people, lost minds. In them, there’s a silent hope. With loss comes pain, but with pain comes finding the good—the happiness—in renewing one’s life and redeeming the irredeemable.”
My own story, “Out of Dust,” is told from the perspective of Cristina Fuentes, a ten-year-old girl who travels from Mexico to a farm in el Norte—the US—with her father in 1954. She and her dad are busy the daily hard work of making a living, taking care of each other and mourning their dead relatives. But the country they’ve come to has just become preoccupied with fears of an “immigrant invasion…” and the story (almost) ends with “Operation Wetback” in which President Eisenhower ordered the mass deportation of undocumented Mexican and Latin American workers. Those deportations were meant to be carried out in a tough manner which would discourage recidivism; that led to many deaths. And yes, that’s the operation our current President praised back when he was just a candidate. The history in the story is all too real. The hope in it comes partly from a fantasy element, and partly from the decency which I believe persists in people despite the frequent ugliness of our history.