On Loss, Aging, the End of the World


A little letter from Year 2


A hot, sticky walk to the pond to watch frogs, then home, sunk low again with loss. I can’t look at the frogs hanging in the cloudy waters without thinking that they’re at risk. What about the sad list of all that is wounded, suffering, gone? How can I look out and see anything but threat?

And what about our young people, who may never see butterflies or whales? Who surely will never know what silence is? Who will grow up afraid of the sun?

In the talk I listened to last week about the state of the oceans and the world, one woman talked about aging — how getting older is always hard because you are losing so many things: abilities, options, friends, family, a place where you’ve lived for so long. We are the first generation, she said, that is also losing the planet — the very earth out of which we were born. Everything we’ve known as the surest home — the loveliness, all the twittering, creaking, scritching, fluty, wild songs that made up the background of our whole time here — going away.

How can I know all these hard things and still leave the door of my heart open? How do I fall in love, over and over, with the life that spreads out in front of me, still rich with possibility, when there is so much to lose? How can I love frogs and bees, whales, dolphins, oceans and air, dark soil and wild herbs, when so much is wounded? And you: How can I love life without you in it? How can I thrill with the moving forward of my own life when yours is fading away?

Still…this morning I watched a mother cardinal sweep out of the underbrush where her babies were hidden, slip over the dewy lawn to perch in the shadows. My mind was crowded with heavy, sad thoughts. Then my eye caught on the curve of her wing, where her dusky breast slips toward red, and fell in love. I don’t know where it came from, that wonder, that startling truth, but it was enough. Undaunted by numbers, statistics, obituaries, fear, it was everything, and enough. The wonder at the heart of all things still lingers, surely, even though you’re gone. Even though everything could be gone.

2 thoughts on “On Loss, Aging, the End of the World

    1. Thanks for your kind words – yes, I do write poetry, and in fact, I found that the whole “love room” experience had a poetic, almost mystical quality to it. I think that some of life’s deepest experiences can be best expressed in language that slips around our typical, everyday jargon. Or in any kind of art. Hope all is well…..

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