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Loss Adjustment

Linda Collins

Top 10 Best Quotes

“Without Victoria, life becomes lived in a kind of suspension, as if Victoria still might be here but has just gone away for a while. She is not physically here, but she is in my thoughts, night and day. Yet, every time I try and picture Victoria’s face, or what she looked like, and how she moved in the world, and all the little characteristics of a human being, I can’t see her at all. The visuals won’t come. I can’t even remember what my own daughter looked like. In desperation, I put up photos of her on a noticeboard above my desk , and speak to them, as if that will bring her back. The images remain two-dimensional. They fail to evoke the living girl that was.”

“We want to feel the pain of her loss, because at least it is something of her to feel. However, the result is that we don’t sleep. The nearest thing to sleep that I experience is blacking out, from which I emerge instantly awake, twitchy and unrefreshed. And always, I wake with the knowledge that she is dead. There are no vestiges of dreams where she is alive. I don’t seem to dream at all.”

“Vocational guidance officers speak about scores necessary to get into university, how to calculate them, what band might be needed to get into various institutions, what countries they can offer information on, what courses are available. The post-school future they outline is entirely about getting into a university. There is nothing on alternative futures. The parents around me seem fine with this. Presumably they have academically successful children and have bought into the notion that raising a child is primarily about getting them to pass exams to enable them to be an economically productive unit in society. All those claims of building better humans, of being the best you can be, of following your passion, of learning to be inclusive and that everyone has something to offer, are all lies. It is simply about being a banker, IT or human resource person, sales manager, accountant, or a supportive spouse.”

“They see it as perfectly normal for me to sit beside Victoria’s body for hours on end, telling her how much I love her and all the things I meant to inform her of but never got around to. How her grandfather Jack was a conscientious objector in the Second World War, but did not want to be separated from his mates, and so became an ambulance officer. How Grandma Sheila recalls him waking from a frequent dream of the trenches, always crying out, “I can’t reach him, I can’t reach him.” That he was a brave man who did the best he could within his own principles. Of how he would have loved her and been so proud of her. Asking Vic to tell Jack we miss him.”

“The language of the rebuild eludes me. It may as well be in Malay for all that I can grasp it. No, that’s not true. If it were Malay, in my limited experience of it, there would be a kindness to it, with declined nouns that invoke a sense of shared communities and values; and qualifiers that allow for misunderstandings, acknowledging this to be perfectly natural and human, and more importantly, a mutually adjustable state of affairs. The language of the insurer, however, is that of the worst of the corporate West. It is management-speak that hears only its own voice. It has closed meanings known only to the initiated; and omissions deliberately designed to confuse. The language of the builder is exclusive; dwangs, thermal-broken, and rondo battens are all terms that are potential minefields of extra expense, if they are not examined, priced, queried, rolled around the tongue for size and spat out for effect.”

“Parents have their own reasons for what they say and who they are, and I had always loved them even if they seemed dismissive, but that day I realise a horrible truth. Possibly they love me, but they really don’t like me. It feels like I am losing not just my daughter, but my family.”

“My dad—Victoria’s grandfather, “Poppa Jim”, as she called him—is forever waist-deep in the warm water of the harbour, holding a body.”

“Malcolm’s friend, Ishak, tells him to be strong. Be strong—it is also a saying used by New Zealand Maori who will urge, kia kaha. My husband repeats to himself, Be strong, as if trying it on for size. Yet he is finding it impossible to be strong. He realises that Ishak’s advice is that of a believer, one who sees a point to all this suffering. A superior being has willed it, and there is life after death. Malcolm admires that certainty, that belief. But he does not share it.”

“If we had flown Victoria to New Zealand, she would have been at a funeral home, with private viewings in an atmosphere of stilted, muffled unquiet. I would have had little opportunity to sit with the body and pour out my lament. The Singaporeans would not have been there with their reassuring ease in the ritual of mourning. My family might have come bristling with disrespect, and rent the air with accusations and blame. Some mourners would have been embarrassed by my tears. They and others would have wanted the whole thing done and dusted quickly. The funeral director or an assistant might well have been the ones dressing the body. I would have not realised the normality of death so quickly, and more importantly at this point, the absolute necessity to go briefly mad with grief, to cover yourself— metaphorically—in the dowdy burlap of mourning.”

“I would not mind going mad. It would absolve me of any need to go on coping, which is a particular kind of living hell. The simplicity of letting go, of shuffling about in a Valium- induced haze, is alluring. I lack the kind of ruthless ability that Victoria had to bring about a complete physical destruction of the entire human package. It is my fate to keep waking and find myself alive.”

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Book Keywords:

education, grief, ptsd, loss, death, love, mourning, family, pain, language, communication, afterlife, parenting, memory

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