Love and loss can both teach us lessons

Abigail Carlin, Columnist

In her book, “Written on the Body” (1992), Jeanette Winterson writes, “why is the measure of Love loss?” 

I read this text when I was 18 yearsold as a recommendation from a professor. Not a day has passed since I read that sentence, over and over again, on the steps of Doudna that I have not thought about what those words could mean.

Those words resonate, even still.

Winterson semi-autobiographically recounts her failed relationships with women, and most notably, the delicious and overwhelming wave of pleasure and pain that occurs before, during and after the loss of her lovers, and the crushing guilt to follow for being unable to exist in a simple, domestic partnership.

As much as I believe that “Written on the Body” is a beautiful read, its roots have been embedded deep inside me. It is a hyper-realistic depiction of the ties that bind us to love.

My greatest love I have experienced is friendship. Sure, familial love runs deep, but there is a sense of undeniable authenticity to friendships made in adulthood. After all, trust and a sense of connection is built over time, but just because something seems solid does not guarantee its longevity.

Spring is the season of new beginnings. Something about April makes people impatient to speak their truth and air out cobwebs.

While liberating, the foundation of friendships and social lives are shaken. I have experienced such a shift in my life, and while things are changing and letting go is incredibly scary, it is absolutely necessary.

Loss of friendship and stability within friend groups is not something to be despaired, but rather, welcomed with open arms.

The measure of love, then, cannot be loss, and if it is, that love is selfish. Too often, we sacrifice pieces of ourselves to fit more comfortably with others, and over time, the resentment begins to build.

What began as shaving little parts of ourselves away leads way to a sense of being hollow, which makes it so much easier to be filled with anger and loneliness.

Do not hold too closely to those who need space from you or your friend group. Do not hinder the growth of those you love because it makes you feel lonely.

If we truly love our friends, we need to respect their journeys to self-fulfillment and self-actualization. Maybe this time away only takes a few days or weeks, but sometimes its permanent and it is okay.

The measure of love and the love that exists in friendship cannot be loss.

Growth is linear, while love is not. While relationships between romantic partners, close friends, family members and colleagues are not permanent, the lessons we learned and the memories we share are eternal.

Do not let space and anger in this moment pollute the happiness that once existed between two, three, five or how ever many people shared it.

Let those who need to go, and look fondly on the past. The measure of love is the ties that binded us throughout the good and the bad, sometimes returning to us in surprising and unexpected ways.

Do not burn the bridges that no one walks on anymore. You may find yourself wishing to walk on it again someday.

Abigail Carlin is a junior English language arts major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].