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After Inconceivable Loss

"How do we love what remains?"

- Sara Nesson, in conversation -

A sunset weeps, and the world is jolted once again into acknowledging the horrific side of human behavior. War is unimaginable in its reality, yet no longer inconceivable. History tells us this, even as the books that speak of it are being banned.

At the very least I want to imagine there is a shock that runs through the planet's people as countries and nature unleash such destructive power, lives and landscapes scathed beyond recognition, sorrow and rage gone deep into cells and soil. It is too much to hold, all the while attempting to live life with its everyday challenges, too much to grieve, too large to fathom, impossible to ignore.

These words are pouring out of me because of two women. My new friend Sara Nesson has ME (myalgic enchephalomyelitis, sometimes known as chronic fatigue syndrome). I know of Rachel Goldberg because of a TV interview about her son Hersh Goldberg-Polin, who was wounded and abducted in the Hamas attacks in Israel over this last weekend.

Both women are suffering from vastly different losses yet have found over time and in the moment how to love what remains. It is in the grace that touches people who hear Sara speak of ME on her Zoom monologues. The same grace brought me to tears last night after hearing Rachel on the PBS NewsHour speak of what is known of her son on this sixth day after his abduction.

This grace is born from the moment loss and love occupy the same space within the same fragile human being, and instead of breaking apart, the fragility is tempered into an inconceivable strength. There is nothing easy about this.

We can only live our lives knowing these moments will occur at some point, on some day unknown to us.

To be aware that this life is vulnerable on all fronts while ruggedly strong at the same time is to answer Sara's question. Embracing loss and love in your own way, through your own words and actions, with your own indomitable spirit open wide like the wings of a bird gliding gracefully on currents of unseen air . . . this is our work of a lifetime.

Nancy G. Shapiro

October 12, 2023



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