Chris lives in a magical place, just above a Great Lake. She prepared a delightful lunch for us and then we walked down the path through the trees and as far as we could on the beach with her chocolate lab Harry, whose enthusiasm for plunging and re-plunging into the water after a piece of wood does not wane.
We shared in some detail our stories of motherhood shattered by unexpected destruction. Chris's only daughter Sarah was lost two years ago to the rocks and raging waves off the Cinque Terre, a place of utter tranquility when my family had walked there a few years earlier. We described those first days and weeks after the deaths of our children to one another and, in her case, the extraordinary warmth and graciousness of the Italian people, both when her daughter died and a year later when Chris and her family returned to the spot where Sarah died. It's now marked with a plaque and a copy of the beautiful painting of Sarah created by an Italian artist from one of the last photos (which graces the front page of Chris's blog) of that adventurous, creative, gifted girl. Chris shared some extraordinary photographs and videos with me, and we talked about what it is like to have had experiences like these and what it is like to go on, to rebuild lives in the face of mystifying devastation.
Today I began reading a remarkable book, about which I'll write more after next week. However, since my friends know I always read the end first, I will conclude for the time being with the final paragraph, which applies, regardless of the form of loss, to heartbroken but still standing mothers, walking the beach and wondering . . .
Love is selfless, firm, intense, and even dazzling. Its strength outlasts death. Its bond overpowers loss. Its courage defies inhibition. It has no end. . . . I carry with me a strength that comes from survival and a tenderness that comes from loving, losing, searching, and remembering.