Saint Augustine: I wondered that other men should live when he was dead
31 January 2005
4... My heart grew somber with grief, and wherever I looked I saw only death. My own country became a torment and my own home a grotesque abode of misery. All that we had done together was now a grim ordeal without him. My eyes searched everywhere for him, but he was not to be seen. I hated all the places we had known together, because he was not in them and they could no longer whisper to me “Here he comes!” as they would have done had he been alive but absent for a while. I had become a puzzle to myself, asking my soul again and again, “Why are you downcast? Why do you distress me?” But my soul had no answer to give….Tears alone were sweet to me, for in my heart’s desire they had taken the place of my friend.
6... I wondered that other men should live when he was dead, for I had loved him as though he would never die. Still more I wondered that he should die and I remain alive, for I was his second self. How well the poet put it when he called his friend the half of his soul! I felt that our two souls had been as one, living in two bodies, and life to me was fearful because I did not want to live with only half a soul. Perhaps this, too, is why I shrank from death, for fear that one whom I had loved so well might then be wholly dead.
7... What madness, to love a man as something more than human! What folly, to grumble at the lot man has to bear! I lived in a fever, convulsed with tears and sighs that allowed me neither rest nor peace of mind. My soul was a burden bruised and bleeding. It was tired of the man who carried it, but I found no place to set it down to rest.
8… the grief I felt for the loss of my friend had struck so easily into my inmost heart simply because I had poured out my soul upon him, like water upon sand, loving a man who was mortal as though he were never to die.
9... Blessed are those who love you, O God, and love their friends in you and their enemies for your sake. They alone will never lose those who are dear to them, for they love them in one who is never lost, in God….
--Augustine of Hippo (354-430), Confessions of Saint Augustine, Book IV (translated by: Unknown)
quo dolore contenebratum est cor meum, et quidquid aspiciebam mors erat. et erat mihi patria supplicium et paterna domus mira infelicitas, et quidquid cum illo communicaveram, sine illo in cruciatum immanem verterat. expetebant eum undique oculi mei, et non dabatur. et oderam omnia, quod non haberent eum, nec mihi iam dicere poterant, `ecce veniet,' sicut cum viveret, quando absens erat. factus eram ipse mihi magna quaestio, et interrogabam animam meam quare tristis esset et quare conturbaret me valde, et nihil noverat respondere mihi. et si dicebam, `spera in deum,' iuste non obtemperabat, quia verior erat et melior homo quem carissimum amiserat quam phantasma in quod sperare iubebatur. solus fletus erat dulcis mihi et successerat amico meo in deliciis animi mei.
mirabar enim ceteros mortales vivere, quia ille, quem quasi non moriturum dilexeram, mortuus erat, et me magis, quia ille alter eram, vivere illo mortuo mirabar. bene quidam dixit de amico suo: `dimidium animae' suae. nam ego sensi animam meam et animam illius unam fuisse animam in duobus corporibus, et ideo mihi horrori erat vita, quia nolebam dimidius vivere, et ideo forte mori metuebam, ne totus ille moreretur quem multum amaveram.
o dementiam nescientem diligere homines humaniter! o stultum hominem immoderate humana patientem! quod ego tunc eram. itaque aestuabam, suspirabam, flebam, turbabar, nec requies erat nec consilium. portabam enim concisam et cruentam animam meam impatientem portari a me, et ubi eam ponerem non inveniebam.
nam unde me facillime et in intima dolor ille penetraverat, nisi quia fuderam in harenam animam meam diligendo moriturum acsi non moriturum?
beatus qui amat te et amicum in te et inimicum propter te. solus enim nullum carum amittit cui omnes in illo cari sunt qui non amittitur. et quis est iste nisi deus noster?
How very beautiful and painful to know that my sorrow, my tunnel of grief, that I walk each day has in some universal way been experienced by so many others...yet the depth of my aloness is so profound, I feel at times that nothing can penetrate it but God Himself. Yet so often God has seemed so silent in His presense.
My Love, my soulmate, my best friend, my husband is gone. I watched leave slowly over a 2 year time span where he battled a hideous enemy...cancer.......Oh to have been able to take on that battle for him...I could do so little really...for death however quickly or slowly it comes is a solitary journey...
He is gone yet, my love for him goes on...
To think that one such as myself in the smallness of my existence
could have something in common with St Augustine.....
I have walked through this tunnel, each day now for just over a year...I know that I must embrace the grief each day...and do so in a way that will return me to embracing life....
Posted by: Joanna Gardner | 08 November 2008 at 17:06