I first considered the thought on reading the Samuel Beckett quote: “I can’t go on. I’ll go on.” The magnitude of that idea. The completeness of the separation of the two realities is stark, neither bound to the other, both simple fact, simultaneously impossible, and exactly what one must do in grief. In the breaking of a heart, when you cannot go on, you simply do, because you must. It will likely not be pretty; it may not feel as if you are succeeding, but you go on, even though you died that day too.
Then to consider that perhaps the dying person feels this way too. Try that one on. But I digress.
During long drives, I listened to the sweet, wise words of Kate Braestrup, the chaplain for the Maine Warden Service who I’ve admired for years. I have watched her speak many times on grief and wisdom. In her book, Here If You Need Me, Kate relates her own stories including the sudden tragic death of her husband, a Maine state trooper. In sharing her heartbreak, the reader is invited to consider the idea that while Kate wouldn’t have chosen for her husband to die, but his leaving early allowed another beautiful husband and two children to enter her life. In time, that new life was one that she couldn’t imagine living without. That life required her first husband to die. The woman who married a state trooper died with him that day. She couldn’t go on; she went on.
Love is not the absence of loss. Love anything and you are assured to someday know the pain of having to say goodbye. On that day, when you can’t go on, you’ll go on. Someday you will find yourself laughing at a joke, you’ll pause and look around, and there will be a life that only could exist with the change of death. You will never wish it happened; you went on, and it will be okay.
Down the road, when the light hits right and I’m ready, there’s a second part to this. I’ve foreshadowed it here. Wait for it, sometimes I like to pretend I’m like Paul Harvey on Sunday Mornings, coming back with the rest of the story. Until then, I wish you enough.