WHAT LOVE CAN DO
A day after her daughter Carrie Fisher died, Debbie Reynolds said — according to her son — “I miss Carrie. I want to be with her.” A short while later she was gone. Amidst the sorrow, especially for the family members who now have to mourn the loss of two loved ones, there is a profound example of how powerful love can be. It can literally propel someone from this world into the next. The news reports say that Debbie Reynolds died from a stroke. But I don’t think how she died is as important as why she died. She wanted to be with her daughter. The bond that connected them, the cord that tied them together in this life was so strong, the ocean between life and death had to be crossed by both of them. One could not be left behind.
We are living in very unloving times, both in the outside world and in this country. We are about to inaugurate a president whose battle cry of “Build a wall!” has now been picked up by seventh graders who chanted that to their Hispanic classmates. The young girl who filmed it with her phone has had to change schools, she felt so intimidated and uncomfortable. Incidents of racial hatred, of prejudice against Muslims, has risen dramatically. We will have a president who has shown contempt for the decorum and dignity of the office that all presidents before him have honored. We will have a president who openly and gleefully talked about grabbing a woman’s genitals. It is not a stretch to say that these are angry, unstable, and fearful times.
Yet, in a holiday season that’s supposed to be about love and peace, we have a towering example of just how powerful love is. A mother didn’t want to stay here without her daughter, declared that she wanted to be with her, and then left to be reunited with her. If we can’t take a moment to stand in awe of that, then we are really in trouble.
In the song Mother and Child Reunion, Paul Simon wrote about “this strange and mournful day.” It’s an apt description for right now and for the loss of two remarkable women. But in the midst of mourning, we can lift our eyes higher, open our hearts wider, and rejoice in the sheer power of love, in the capacity of two human beings to slip beyond the bounds of this world and be reunited in the next, because their hearts would settle for nothing less.