The Love of My Life: A Touchstone

12 Mar

Every time I want to write something emotional and honest and important I re-read the same essay—Cheryl Strayed’s The Love of My Life. This essay was published more than eight years ago but I cannot stop coming back to it. It is a strange thing to connect deeply with the words of a stranger and yet it happens all the time, doesn’t it? We read, we read, we search, we find, we feel. This essay is something like a touchstone for me. That’s kind of strange, I suppose because it’s a very intimate essay about someone else, a stranger’s life, about a set of experiences I have not experienced–she writes of the end of her first marriage, infidelity, but most importantly all consuming grief over the loss of her mother. Still, there is something about this essay—there’s an emotional honesty that got a hold of me the first time I read the essay and has not let go. Tonight, I decided to write something important I have avoided writing for, well, forever and I thought, “How do I do this?” I thought, “How do I do this right?” I don’t yet have the answers to those questions but I did re-read Strayed’s essay because I knew it was a good place to stat.

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One Response to “The Love of My Life: A Touchstone”

  1. christopher. March 14, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

    I remember reading the beginning of this once, perhaps months ago, I’m not sure. Perhaps you’d shared it on HTMLG or your personal blog, I don’t know. I’d read the start of it, at work like I am now, and saw it was 3 pages, and thought, I’ll remember this to get to it later, and now is later, and I didn’t care about work, I read this and thank you for vouching this.

    It’s strange, to read it, and to feel parts of it in the loss of my mom, and also recognize myself in the other parts, about compartmentalizing my grief of it, and honestly, I’ve sometimes questioned whether I feel the same as others feel. Sometimes I don’t think I felt the death of my mother “enough.” Sometimes I still don’t think I do or have.

    Last year, Britt and I had to put down an incontinent cat. “Our” cat, I suppose, but more “her” cat, and I tried to empathize, but it wasn’t coming to me. She asked once why I didn’t seem to feel anything, and how like a broken building she seemed, and how I didn’t know how to explain that sometimes I think I don’t feel enough. I tried to explain that, and once to put it in context of my mother’s death, but it was all bullshit, and to this day I don’t really know. To this day, it’s just what it was–I woke up one day, and my nose was gone.

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