Several times in the past few months I have found the need for words of consolation, both for myself and for others. I’m not sure how I came across this, but the following is taken from Broken Vessels, an essay by Andre Dubus.
A week ago I read again The Old Man and the Sea, and learned from it that, above all, our bodies exist to perform the condition of our spirits: our choices, our desires, our loves. My physical mobility and my little girls have been taken from me; but I remain. So my crippling is a daily and living sculpture of certain truths: we receive and we lose, and we must try to achieve gratitude; and with that gratitude to embrace with whole hearts whatever of life that remains after the losses. No one can do this alone, for being absolutely alone finally means a life not only without people or God or both to love, but without love itself. In The Old Man and Sea, Santiago is a widower and a man who prays; but the love that fills and sustains him is of life itself: living creatures, and the sky, and the sea. Without that love, he would be an old man alone in a boat.
Finding gratitude in loss is a tall order, but then Dubus knew a thing about tragedy. As you can see. I’m not sure I’ll ever reach that level of acceptance, but his words did give birth to a thought that won’t go away. Which is that loss is the price we pay for love. For if we all were immortal and there was no possibility of losing anyone, then what reason would we have to treasure and love them?