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“Only love and death will change all things.” ~Kahlil Gibran

I’ve been thinking a bit about death for the past couple of years.

And a lot about love.

Perhaps it’s that I’ve lost several dear friends to cancer, or maybe it’s the heart-haze of the surging pandemic, or the inherent tension of the impending U.S. election.

Maybe it’s the sea of uncertainty in which the world seems to be treading water.

Or maybe it’s simply my age—or my mother’s.

In any case, I reread some of my own words from Four Fridays recently that I think bear sharing:

“…  and we can accept the ultimate paradox, the eternal circular argument: that to choose to live demands that we choose to love. Love is the very essence of life, its blood. But choosing love also means choosing loss—one way or the other, sooner or later—because they are two sides of the same coin.”

“If being a kid is about learning how to live, then being a grown-up is about learning how to die.” ~ Stephen King

I said goodbye to my grandchildren on Friday in the States after a seven-week stay; I write these words from the safety of my well-stocked apartment in Toronto ready for a required two-week quarantine.

And while my ears are grateful for the quiet and order of my solitary existence, they simultaneously ache for the controlled chaos of a two-toddler home.

I am particularly close to my grandson, Peyton, now four years old. While reading him a bed-time story my last night there (I leave early in the morning before the household awakens; it’s easier on all of us) Peyton interrupted me to declare his sadness at my impending departure.

“There’s a crack in my heart,” he said, his miniature mouth turning down at the corners.

Holding up both his little hands, he pressed his tiny thumbs and index fingers together to form a small diamond shape.

“This is my heart when you’re here,” he explained, pulling his fingers up to the center of his chest.

“And this is my heart when you leave.” Then he pulled his arms apart, the index finger and thumb on both hands closing to form two small circles that were now separated by four inches.

A pulling apart.

There is a crack in my heart, too. Each goodbye feels like a small death in these precarious times.

And I think there is a crack in everyone’s heart right now, an individual pulling apart from what was, amidst a collective uncertainty about what will be.

“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.” ~ Chuck Palahniuk

We’d be well to remember the line from Leonard Cohen from his song Anthem: “There is a crack, a crack in everything—that’s how the light gets in.”

For me, the flip side to the pain of goodbyes is not the joy of future hellos; it is rather a confirmation of the presence of love in the present.

Peyton is enamoured of super-heroes at the moment: Paw Patrol, Teenage Mutant Ninjas, Superman, Batman, et al. Anything that goes fast or saves the day.

I made him a costume a few weeks back—Super Flash, out of aqua fabric (his current favourite colour).  Had a cape and glow-in-the-dark paint and a mask, man. He was thrilled with it and wore it on Halloween.

The costume he’ll grow out of in a couple of months.

The crack, I hope never.

“The connections we make in the course of a life–maybe that’s what heaven is.” ~Fred Rogers

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