Love in the Present Tense

I loved her. And she loved me.

Bereavement and loss are strange things when you don’t believe in gods or afterlives. Our brains seem to be wired for a befuddled incomprehension of the fact that a person can end, that they stop and are no longer there and no longer exist. We can easily intellectually understand the fact of mortality. Feeling it in our hearts and in our guts, though, is a lot harder. Especially when it comes to others, to the people we love. I know in my head that some of the people I love no longer exist. My heart still calls for them, yearns for their presence and company, and sees them behind half-open doors. Sometimes being a brain that can think but can’t stop feeling is no fun.

The things that believers say often don’t do much to help. Well-meaning and loving assurances that the deceased person is in a better place or looking down on us just make me want to scream. “No, she isn’t!“, I think.  She’s not in a better place. She doesn’t exist, and everything that made her up is in the ground in a box. And we’re still here, trying to make sense of it.

She doesn’t exist, but I do. And how I love her still exists. I cannot make her be alive or exist again. I can keep being a person who loves her, who loves her memory and who she was and all of the bits of who I am that only exist because she did. Because she was someone worth loving.

I love her. And she loved me.


2 thoughts on “Love in the Present Tense

  1. Thank you for sharing this post, it was so beautiful and so heart-breakingly true.

  2. I have a faith, but no particular belief about an afterlife.

    She no longer exists. Not she doesn’t exist, but rather, no longer exists. Many things, places and people we love did exist, they shaped us and now they exist in our memories and the stories we tell, if not in the physical reality. Stories and memories help.

    I’m dealing with the anticipation of this as my mother faces her own death. Soon, she will live only in stories and memories, as my grandparents and other ancestors do.

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