Loss in the Third Act

The art of losing isn’t hard to master *Even before I found myself parked across the street from the entrance to Maine Med’s ER in Portland watching the steady arrival of ambulances laden with the sick—East Millinocket, Norway, South Portland lettered on their doors—and trying not to cry, I’d been thinking about loss, what is already lost, what I am losing. On a walk a few weeks ago with a much younger friend, V., she surprised me when she offered the idea that the existential threat to life on the planet was, maybe, more painful for people my age because we’d been raised in a world where these threats didn’t exist, whereas her generation has always known this truth about the ailing planet. I found her empathic insight into my generation’s deeper experience of loss quite remarkable for, honestly, I’ve imagined that secretly people her age would just as soon push all of us who fiddled with their future while the planet burned off a high bridge and watch us try to save ourselves as we flounder about in the cold water below. Her generosity about my generation's role in the climate emergency somehow gave me permission to take in the whole universe of losses behind and ahead of me.

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