In A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson interviews the Reverend Robert Evans, who searches the night sky for dying stars, particularly supernovae. It's a labor of love as Evans only averages discoveries of two supernovae per year. He once found three in fifteen days but spent another period of three years without finding any. But Evans is not dismayed:
"There is actually a certain value in not finding anything. It helps cosmologists to work out the rate at which galaxies are evolving. It's one of those rare areas where the absence of evidence is evidence."
I think life is like this. We are constantly evolving as individuals. Sometimes, there's not a lot externally to show for our labors. But searching through the vastness of one's psyche, one's inner life, you can see that star shining bright, that bit of yourself that you didn't know was growing in the dark.
I think that this is what love is as well---combing the darkness for the spots of light that are not so easily seen by others. And trusting that no amount of effort is wasted when love is your goal.
"There's something satisfying, I think, about the idea of light traveling for millions of years through space and just at the right moment as it reaches Earth someone looks at the right bit of sky and sees it. It just seems right that an event of that magnitude should be witnessed."
I again here see a beautiful metaphor for love. To love is to witness, to be with another, in the moment, so that when the magic happens, you're present to see it.
Lately, I've taken to asking people what they'd want written on their headstone were they to die tomorrow. What few words would you choose to sum up your life on this planet? It's a question that few can answer me. It's usually met with a lot of fidgeting and downcast eyes. When someone can't formulate a response, I get the question turned back to myself, "So what would you like on your headstone?"
I have only one response: "She loved well."
I hope that when the star that is me fades from this cosmos, those words will be more than just carvings on granite. I hope that they will shine across the sky and be witnessed as true by all who knew me.