by Tom Swift

That night at dinner my father asked my mother what they had been talking about all that time, and my mother told us about a sermon our pastor James had given recently. “What he said was that when all is lost and the center will not hold, that you do die an existential death. Like when someone dies or leaves you or in some other way the whole bottom just drops out. It’s like when Mary went to the tomb and the body of Christ was missing and suddenly her center wouldn’t hold. All of the sudden she didn’t know for sure if any of it had happened. She didn’t know what end was up. And James said that when you’re hurt that badly, you do die, sort of, as a means of survival. And you lie there and you lie there in your grief for as long as it takes, until finally, finally life can pull you back into itself; as if it could give you its hands and pull you to your feet, so that you can totter along again.”

-Anne Lamott, All New People: A Novel (1989)