I received an email from a good friend. His wife has recently been diagnosed with cancer----he described the news as hitting them with "terrifying suddeness". We all have our own gut reaction memories that rise up in companionship when this level of fear hits someone close to us. What seems like out of the blue, life's going along at its regular, often boring routine, we are pulled out of ordinary into fear--- into re-arranging everything we might have once considered normal to a new normal. This new normal has us living on the edge, nerves frayed, battle armor on, swords drawn, ready, we hope, to cope with whatever the next moment might hand to us. The price of love, of course, is the pain it will demand when the day comes for us to lose our beloved. But long before that day comes there are the little fears, the little deaths and close calls that prepare us, tenderizing our hearts and bodies, whatever is at the core of us, for that loss. The fear of losing someone so dear to us that we cannot define ourselves without him or her is as basic as the fear of falling. When we invest so much of ourselves in our beloved--- and we have to if we are to have the immeasurable joys of love--- we know, on a cellular level, just how dangerous this much love is.
We love because we must. We love because we know that the joys and rewards of love outweigh the agony of not loving. We are created to love; we seek love in its various forms because we are not fully alive without love.
When that love-- that person who means so much to us we cannot measure the cost--- is threatened--we stand on the edge of darkness praying with all our might for reprieve, for the divine favor of more time, more words, more chances to share, to laugh, to cry with our beloved. We pray without words, trusting to the Creator of life that our agony, our presence, our pain, is prayer enough.
Throughout time artists and writers have depicted death as an entity, the Grim Reaper, the black spectre carrying a scythe and cloaked in darkness; the personification of what a broken and lonely heart is.
But--- but-- we are the heirs of warriors who will not easily sacrifice our beloved to the darkness of the enemy. With all our heart and will and tears we fight, we pray, we bargain, we turn our lives inside out and expose ourselves to death ourselves to save our loved ones, begging, humble, broken down to our most basic selves. It is in these moments that we know the glory of our humanity and our inheritance of the great love for which we are created.
* expression taken from fellow writer Bill Marvel