I just finished reading, Loving and Leaving the Good Life by Helen Nearing.  The following statement is from the book jacket: Helen and Scott Nearing, authors of Living the Good Life and many other books, lived together for 53 years until Scott’s death at age 100.  Loving and Leaving the Good Life is Helen Nearing’s memoir of their life together and an inspiring testimonial to the ideals they stood for: self-sufficiency, simplicity, social justice, and peace.

Helen had given a lecture while promoting her book, when I lived in Maine, in 1992 at the Unitarian Church.  She was well into her eighties at the time, and I was so amazed by her sharp intellect, her energy and enthusiasm, and, most of all her love for her husband, Scott, who had died several years earlier.  It was clear to see that the love she felt for him was undiminished by time; in fact, there was a youthful, schoolgirl quality in her demeanor as she spoke of their courtship and life together as homesteaders.

While I didn’t buy her book that night, I never forgot her talk and the deep impression it left upon me.  Remembering her sharing the manner in which Scott died, of his own choosing, I finally read the book.  When he reached 100, and realized that he was unable to “give back” in the way he had always lived, he decided to stop eating.  He would have no hospitals, no drugs, he wanted to be fully aware of the dying process.  His life was amazingly productive and full.  He taught Helen how to build their homes, how to live off the land, and they worked as a team in these and all of their other endeavors.  He died in dignity with Helen, as always, by his side.

Reading the book for me was an exercise in remembering what is important.  Scott and Helen struggled with many of the same issues that prevail in our society today.  They lived their values; honestly and peacefully, full of their love for each other and love of their simple life.

The overwhelming message for me, a reminder really, of what I have always known is that there is love everywhere, and love does not die.  It lives and breathes among us.  Death does not change the fact of love.  We can conjure up a memory of a beloved who has passed and in that moment, it is as real as if it was happening in the present moment.

My grandmother died when I was fifteen.  Being a teenager, I was interested in my social life, my boyfriend, and all the activities of high school.  I had no idea how much I would miss her, and no idea of how she would bless my life every day after she passed.  My memory of times together and all she taught me evokes such gratitude.

Families experiencing a break, through differences, can be apart for many years, but the love does not stop.  The thought of children and grandchildren can fill the mind and heart with such beautiful loving feelings, in spite of the distance in physicality.  And, I believe that love can exist in these situations where children never knew their parents or grandparents.  The love is there, rich and satisfying, growing despite distance.  And for those fortunate enough to experience reconciliation, that love grows exponentially.

I know too, that love can continue for a partner one has left or divorced.  The memory of parenting children, sharing hopes, dreams, concern for them, bonds a couple in innumerable ways.  While compatibility may have been problematic, the love is still there.

Today, I choose to focus on love.  It is my ninth wedding anniversary to Chris.  I married him knowing of his numerous health issues and promised to love, and to cherish, in sickness and in health.  Little did I dream at the time that he would become my voice, my support, my advocate as a deadly illness creeps over my body.  And so it is.  We never know what life will bring.

I would urge you, dear reader, to think today of all the love that has blessed your life.  Remember that your neighbors love as well, wherever they live in the world.  With today’s technology, our neighbors are in the Middle East, Asia, and next door, as well.  My point is that love is everywhere; in our towns and cities, and in our country and in villages all over the world.  Love exists everywhere, in everyone.  Let us be aware of it today.

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