Quote of the Day: “Grief is the Price We Pay For Love”

 

These words were spoken by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, to the family members of those who perished on September 11, 2001. And I’ve often thought she must have been channeling C.S. Lewis at the time:

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.–C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

It’s a theme that Lewis fleshed out some more in his reflection on the death of his wife, the American poet Joy Davidman, in the short memoir, A Grief Observed.

And it’s a theme I think I’ve found in my own life:  Love, and be vulnerable.  Or, somehow, find a way not to love, and be less than fully human.

I’ve always thought that outwardly directed affection of almost any sort is good for the person expressing it.  Because it takes his mind off himself and diverts him from unhealthy self-contemplation in a narcissistic, self-involved, and self-affirming mirror.    Paying attention to others, and loving my neighbor at least as much as I love myself is important, or so I have always believed.

And it’s never been more so for me than since 2018, the year in which Mr. She’s oldest child died as the result of a brutal, murderous attack seven months prior, and the year in which it became clear to me that my husband of almost forty years simply couldn’t cope with reality anymore.

I’d always believed he loved me dearly (because I know that’s true), but in the last couple of years, until his death in July of 2020, he often didn’t remember who I was; couldn’t recall important milestones in our life (the first time he asked me if he and I ever got married was a  real punch in the gut); was sometimes very difficult in relationship terms; and at the very end didn’t remember that he’d ever had any children or recall the existence of his best-beloved granddaughter, whose photo was prominently displayed in the slide show of family memories I’d set up and would play on the TV screen in his bedroom.  “Who is that little girl?” he’d ask plaintively when her image appeared.  As though he knew she was important and he was supposed to recognize her, but couldn’t quite place the memory of her face.  He had become supremely vulnerable.  And so had I.  And eventually, I turned off the slideshow.

Love has made his granddaughter vulnerable, too.  I know her own grief (she’s 13 now) at her loss is profound.  But, also in a very human vein, she has memories.  And I expect those memories of her “Gramps” will matter to her as much in 2074 (when she’ll be the same age as I am now) as my own, all-too-few, memories of my Granny matter to me today.  Love is love, after all. And, as the Bard sayeth–and thank goodness–it ain’t time’s fool.

Although not framed in Lewis’s words, the idea that there’s a price to be paid for love and life was front and center in one of my favorite movies, Shadowlands, a dramatization of the relationship between Lewis and Davidman:

” The pain then is part of the happiness now.  [And vice-versa, of course.] That’s the deal.”

And I, for one, wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Grief is the price we pay for love.”

That’s the deal.

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  1. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    This is the Quote of the Day. Our sign-up sheet for April is here and we have four days still available.  Hurry, or they’ll soon be gone! We welcome new participants and new members to Ricochet to share their favorite quotations.

    Another ongoing project to encourage new voices is our Group Writing Project. April’s theme is ‘April’s Showers Bring….‘ If you’re looking to share your own thoughts rather than those of others, please sign up for Group Writing too!

    • #1
  2. Raxxalan Member
    Raxxalan
    @Raxxalan

    It is a high price to pay somedays.  Friday would have been Ms. Rax and my anniversary.  I miss her terribly right now.  It is a real hard slog through the desert.

    • #2
  3. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Raxxalan (View Comment):

    It is a high price to pay somedays. Friday would have been Ms. Rax and my anniversary. I miss her terribly right now. It is a real hard slog through the desert.

    I am sorry for your loss.  And, yes it is.

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    She: And it’s a theme I think I’ve found in my own life:  Love, and be vulnerable.  Or, somehow, find a way not to love, and be less than fully human.

    A very fine post, She. As I read it, my heart breaks and yet opens at the same time. The complexity of love and heartache.

    • #4
  5. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Wonderful post, Mrs. She.  Just wonderful. You seem to have led an serious and deep life. I suspect that you’ve never needed to worry that you’ve measured out your life in coffee spoons. 

    • #5
  6. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Why doesn’t Maintenance ever dust this lab?

    Beautiful, She.

    • #6
  7. MWD B612 "Dawg" Member
    MWD B612 "Dawg"
    @danok1

    Why did I just open a jar of pollen in here?

    Beautiful, moving post, She.

    • #7
  8. Midwest Southerner Member
    Midwest Southerner
    @MidwestSoutherner

    What a beautiful, moving post, She. 

    Like @percival‘s lab, my office is apparently quite dusty today, causing all manner of tears to escape from my eyes.

    • #8
  9. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Wonderful post, Mrs. She. Just wonderful. You seem to have led an serious and deep life. I suspect that you’ve never needed to worry that you’ve measured out your life in coffee spoons.

    Thanks @kentforrester.  And, umm, no.   I’ve always thought that was a bit of a forced metaphor anyway–why wasn’t the good old British teaspoon sufficient?

    Meter, I supposed.

    Still, having grown up essentially Raj, I was at one point schooled in all the special-purpose silver that might appear unexpectedly on the dinner table on any given night (fish knife, anyone?) so I know the poet was making a point (if, rather a precious one, IMHO) in coming up with the tiniest little scoop he could think of in order to highlight the smallness and inconsequentiality of Prufrock’s life.  (A coffee spoon is about 1/2 the size of a teaspoon, and an English teaspoon is, like the English robin, considerably smaller than its stateside equivalent).

    When it comes to down to it, though, I’d rather “drink life to the lees,” and damn the torpedoes.

    Your comment did remind me (everything reminds me of something, in case you hadn’t noticed), of my late father-in-law who died much too soon, in 1985, as a result of organic brain damage from–as Mr. She was wont to say–devout alcoholism.  He was a bright and generous man, but a mean and ugly drunk who was given in his last years to phoning up both me and Mr. She’s first wife, and threatening to burn our respective houses down.  In one of his less fraught, but more maudlin encounters, he went on at length about his new job at the zoo, the sole responsibility of which was to follow the elephants around, cleaning up their mess with a teaspoon.  He wanted us to know and understand how hard that was.

    I’ll bet.  Elephants poop a dozen times a day, perhaps a total of 300lbs, or about a ton a week.  A teaspoon (US) holds 5cc.   I was told there wouldn’t be math, so you can figure it out if you like.  Poor guy.  Self-destructive to the last.

    • #9
  10. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Amen

    • #10
  11. Bethany Mandel Editor
    Bethany Mandel
    @bethanymandel

    This was so powerful, thank you for writing this.

    • #11
  12. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher
    Goldwaterwoman
    @goldwaterwoman

    She:

    ” The pain then is part of the happiness now.  [And vice-versa, of course.] That’s the deal.”

    And I, for one, wouldn’t have it any other way.

    “Grief is the price we pay for love.”

    Ah, so very true. 

    • #12
  13. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    Is it really worth paying?

    It’s something I often consider.  

    • #13
  14. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    Is it really worth paying?

    It’s something I often consider.

    Yes, I believe it’s worth paying, and it’s a deal I’ll take every time.  Not that I haven’t had moments (some of them longer, and more heartfelt, than others) when I’ve considered the question too.  But I think that putting a range of the human experience, whether of the “high” or the “low” variety, off limits to ourselves, to shield ourselves from intense happiness or extreme sorrow, means that we aren’t really living our lives to the fullest extent possible.  (And when the phrase “fullest extent possible” is on offer, I’ll sign up every time!) The joy and the grief, the pleasure and the pain, the ups and the downs really are part of the same thing, then and now. They’re all part of the deal, and all part of a well-lived, and well-worn, life.

    I wish that Mr. She hadn’t suffered such chronic ill health in the last decade of his life, culminating in the final, devastating, insult of his dementia in the last few years.  I wish that he and I hadn’t gone through, and suffered some of the other indignities and heartbreak that we did along the way.

    And I wish I hadn’t had to see him go through that, or watch his memories of almost everything, including me and the rest of his family, disappear and, (as a Ricochet member who watched his father succumb a few years ago put it), “the lights go out one by one,” until, at last, everything was darkness, and there was no light.  (And I thank all you Ricochet members who reached out and were there at the time.)

    Perhaps one of the reasons I was put here was to insure that someone paid attention to, and took care of, him at the end.

    Do I wish we’d never fallen in love, all those decades ago, and gotten married?  And wish that I’d missed all the joy? If I could have seen the endgame then, would it have changed my mind?

    Not on your my life.

    • #14
  15. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    Is it really worth paying?

    It’s something I often consider.

    Yes. 

    And for Christians we are Commanded to pay that price. 

    • #15
  16. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    Is it really worth paying?

    It’s something I often consider.

    This is more in line with my thoughts. The post is beautiful but not applicable myself. I despise being vulnerable. I love but not enough. When I lose something or someone I love I wish I had never had or known it. I want it gone from memory. I think “if I had never known this person I would not feel this pain now”. So experiences have made me love less through the years. Don’t feel pity for me because it is what I know. I don’t envy those who can love much. But I can empathize with their pain and even cry tears for them. As I have for our dear @She.

     

    • #16
  17. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    JustmeinAZ (View Comment):

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    Is it really worth paying?

    It’s something I often consider.

    This is more in line with my thoughts. The post is beautiful but not applicable myself. I despise being vulnerable. I love but not enough. When I lose something or someone I love I wish I had never had or known it. I want it gone from memory. I think “if I had never known this person I would not feel this pain now”. So experiences have made me love less through the years. Don’t feel pity for me because it is what I know. I don’t envy those who can love much. But I can empathize with their pain and even cry tears for them. As I have for our dear @ She.

    That means more to me than you know, @justmeinaz.  God bless.

    • #17
  18. Raxxalan Member
    Raxxalan
    @Raxxalan

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    Is it really worth paying?

    It’s something I often consider.

    The real question I am struggling with right now is would it be worth paying it again.   I am at awkward point where I feel too old to start over and too young to not to.  I have to determine for myself if it is worth or even if I am able to pay the price again.  

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  19. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Raxxalan (View Comment):

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    Is it really worth paying?

    It’s something I often consider.

    The real question I am struggling with right now is would it be worth paying it again. I am at awkward point where I feel too old to start over and too young to not to. I have to determine for myself if it is worth or even if I am able to pay the price again.

    It must be tempting to want to know what the future holds. Certainly you can choose to be alone for now, or you can choose to make yourself more available. Rather than those choices, I wonder if you can just try your best to live your life as fully as you can; rely on friends to nurture the loving part of you; do things that you find fulfilling; be present to those people and events that show up. In my life, I usually have to be hit with a 2X4 to notice the options available; maybe your indicators will be more obvious. Take care, @raxxalan.

    • #19