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2018年5月6日

女人所有的失去,都會以另一種方式歸來




《這個殺手不太冷》裡,Mathilda問殺手Leon:「是不是人生總是如此艱難,還是只有童年如此?」Leon回答她「 Always like this。」

每個人都在自己的世界裡,承受著這樣或那樣的痛。所幸,妳永遠都有時間重頭再來。失去一個人的時候,妳一定也以為此生註定孤獨。但妳也可以轉角就遇到一個愛你如命的人。

當妳被生活、工作、折磨得痛不欲生時,可當妳邁過那個關,回顧過往突然意識到那也是命運的另一種饋贈。

妳所有的失去,都會以另一種方式歸來。

2015年,矽谷女超人Sheryl Sandberg驟失夫婿,他的死訊震驚科技界,幾日後,奧巴馬也在社群媒體上發表貼文,悼念這位英年早逝的科技界菁英。天人永隔的痛與時間一樣古老,但很少女人公開談論這種痛苦,談喪夫之痛的臉書貼文迄今已有75000個評論,其中許多來自原本覺得她是很難相處的員工。失去丈夫以後,她崩潰了,一度失去信心,但在親友同事的鼓勵下,逐漸恢復,並變得非常人性了,最近有了BF

女人在「事業」和「家庭」中,總要面臨平衡。可平衡是假的,什麼Work Life Balance全是假的,背後都做了取捨,正是在承受一次次的失去中,所遇見的每一個人和看到的這個世界,只是為了讓妳完成一場人生的修行。

遇到的人,歷經的事,都有其意義。如果事與願違,那一定是另有安排。


曾經的妳聽命於所見與所聞,後來的妳聽命於思想和經驗,到了中年,女人大概終於搞清楚了人生所有事情的整體脈絡和因果關係,自己在世間的位置,以及世事的無常和虛無。

前半生努力趕工的一副刺繡品,終於能轉過來看到背面的一針一線,一覽所有的走向。「零存」的經歷換成了「整付」。

少女的愛情戰場,中女的名利戰場,什麼年齡幹什麼事,自然規律,流暢延續。


張小嫻說:「總有一天,妳會對著過去的傷痛微笑,妳會感謝離開你的那個人,他配不上妳愛、妳的好,妳的癡心。他終究不是命定的那個人。幸好他不是。」

生命本身就是個在「不斷失去」與「不斷得到」中循環往復的過程。妳以為的失去,其實不過是為了迎接另一種「得到」。妳不需要全世界都愛你了,只要幾個好人愛你,那就夠了。


「大過天」會變成「無所謂」。比如情感,都逐步拋下。女人越老,世間之事就越微不足道,IG柔光濾鏡全部去掉之後,人們慢慢變成了局外人。

女人的人生是取的過程,亦是棄的過程。它遠比Deep Learning要複雜,因為它還給了妳全數推翻牌局,重來或者不來的權利。

這中間的取和捨,決定了終究會獲得什麼,最後又要往哪裡去。要下過地獄的章詒和才會寫《往事並不如煙》,而大多數世事不是被時間的洪流沖走,就是被自己的千帆過盡,閱人無數過濾乾淨。

大部分的痛苦,都是不肯換場的結果,大部分的哀傷,只是源於執念太深。有人惹妳哭,就有另一個人來逗妳笑,所有的失去都會以另一種方式得到補償。所有的痛苦,所有的失去,都會以另一種方式重新擁有。

有過的每一場心碎,最後都會換一個人來,幫妳一片片拾起,拼湊到如初。

探頭張望,徘徊搖擺,怨懟悔恨,全心投入,都是人生最浪費時間的事。想要的都鏗鏘入局,好好擁有;事過境遷,全數釋懷。

錦上添花,不如一蓑煙雨;
滿堂盛宴還不如一碗細面;
井水一瓢也香甜;
有誰一任平生,可以不拖不欠?


Today is the end of sheloshim for my beloved husband—the first thirty days. Judaism calls for a period of intense mourning known as shiva that lasts seven days after a loved one is buried. After shiva, most normal activities can be resumed, but it is the end of sheloshim that marks the completion of religious mourning for a spouse.

A childhood friend of mine who is now a rabbi recently told me that the most powerful one-line prayer he has ever read is: “Let me not die while I am still alive.” I would have never understood that prayer before losing Dave. Now I do.

I think when tragedy occurs, it presents a choice. You can give in to the void, the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even breathe. Or you can try to find meaning. These past thirty days, I have spent many of my moments lost in that void. And I know that many future moments will be consumed by the vast emptiness as well.
But when I can, I want to choose life and meaning.

And this is why I am writing: to mark the end of sheloshim and to give back some of what others have given to me. While the experience of grief is profoundly personal, the bravery of those who have shared their own experiences has helped pull me through. Some who opened their hearts were my closest friends. Others were total strangers who have shared wisdom and advice publicly. So I am sharing what I have learned in the hope that it helps someone else. In the hope that there can be some meaning from this tragedy.

I have lived thirty years in these thirty days. I am thirty years sadder. I feel like I am thirty years wiser.

I have gained a more profound understanding of what it is to be a mother, both through the depth of the agony I feel when my children scream and cry and from the connection my mother has to my pain. She has tried to fill the empty space in my bed, holding me each night until I cry myself to sleep. She has fought to hold back her own tears to make room for mine. She has explained to me that the anguish I am feeling is both my own and my children’s, and I understood that she was right as I saw the pain in her own eyes.

I have learned that I never really knew what to say to others in need. I think I got this all wrong before; I tried to assure people that it would be okay, thinking that hope was the most comforting thing I could offer. A friend of mine with late-stage cancer told me that the worst thing people could say to him was “It is going to be okay.” That voice in his head would scream, How do you know it is going to be okay? Do you not understand that I might die? I learned this past month what he was trying to teach me. Real empathy is sometimes not insisting that it will be okay but acknowledging that it is not. When people say to me, “You and your children will find happiness again,” my heart tells me, Yes, I believe that, but I know I will never feel pure joy again. Those who have said, “You will find a new normal, but it will never be as good” comfort me more because they know and speak the truth. Even a simple “How are you?”—almost always asked with the best of intentions—is better replaced with “How are you today?” When I am asked “How are you?” I stop myself from shouting, My husband died a month ago, how do you think I am? When I hear “How are you today?” I realize the person knows that the best I can do right now is to get through each day.
I have learned some practical stuff that matters. Although we now know that Dave died immediately, I didn’t know that in the ambulance. The trip to the hospital was unbearably slow. I still hate every car that did not move to the side, every person who cared more about arriving at their destination a few minutes earlier than making room for us to pass. I have noticed this while driving in many countries and cities. Let’s all move out of the way. Someone’s parent or partner or child might depend on it.

I have learned how ephemeral everything can feel—and maybe everything is. That whatever rug you are standing on can be pulled right out from under you with absolutely no warning. In the last thirty days, I have heard from too many women who lost a spouse and then had multiple rugs pulled out from under them. Some lack support networks and struggle alone as they face emotional distress and financial insecurity. It seems so wrong to me that we abandon these women and their families when they are in greatest need.

I have learned to ask for help—and I have learned how much help I need. Until now, I have been the older sister, the COO, the doer and the planner. I did not plan this, and when it happened, I was not capable of doing much of anything. Those closest to me took over. They planned. They arranged. They told me where to sit and reminded me to eat. They are still doing so much to support me and my children.

I have learned that resilience can be learned. Adam M. Grant taught me that three things are critical to resilience and that I can work on all three. Personalization—realizing it is not my fault. He told me to ban the word “sorry.” To tell myself over and over, This is not my fault. Permanence—remembering that I won’t feel like this forever. This will get better. Pervasiveness—this does not have to affect every area of my life; the ability to compartmentalize is healthy.

For me, starting the transition back to work has been a savior, a chance to feel useful and connected. But I quickly discovered that even those connections had changed. Many of my co-workers had a look of fear in their eyes as I approached. I knew why—they wanted to help but weren’t sure how. Should I mention it? Should I not mention it? If I mention it, what the hell do I say? I realized that to restore that closeness with my colleagues that has always been so important to me, I needed to let them in. And that meant being more open and vulnerable than I ever wanted to be. I told those I work with most closely that they could ask me their honest questions and I would answer. I also said it was okay for them to talk about how they felt. One colleague admitted she’d been driving by my house frequently, not sure if she should come in. Another said he was paralyzed when I was around, worried he might say the wrong thing. Speaking openly replaced the fear of doing and saying the wrong thing. One of my favorite cartoons of all time has an elephant in a room answering the phone, saying, “It’s the elephant.” Once I addressed the elephant, we were able to kick him out of the room.

At the same time, there are moments when I can’t let people in. I went to Portfolio Night at school where kids show their parents around the classroom to look at their work hung on the walls. So many of the parents—all of whom have been so kind—tried to make eye contact or say something they thought would be comforting. I looked down the entire time so no one could catch my eye for fear of breaking down. I hope they understood.
I have learned gratitude. Real gratitude for the things I took for granted before—like life. As heartbroken as I am, I look at my children each day and rejoice that they are alive. I appreciate every smile, every hug. I no longer take each day for granted. When a friend told me that he hates birthdays and so he was not celebrating his, I looked at him and said through tears, “Celebrate your birthday, goddammit. You are lucky to have each one.” My next birthday will be depressing as hell, but I am determined to celebrate it in my heart more than I have ever celebrated a birthday before.

I am truly grateful to the many who have offered their sympathy. A colleague told me that his wife, whom I have never met, decided to show her support by going back to school to get her degree—something she had been putting off for years. Yes! When the circumstances allow, I believe as much as ever in leaning in. And so many men—from those I know well to those I will likely never know—are honoring Dave’s life by spending more time with their families.

I can’t even express the gratitude I feel to my family and friends who have done so much and reassured me that they will continue to be there. In the brutal moments when I am overtaken by the void, when the months and years stretch out in front of me endless and empty, only their faces pull me out of the isolation and fear. My appreciation for them knows no bounds.

I was talking to one of these friends about a father-child activity that Dave is not here to do. We came up with a plan to fill in for Dave. I cried to him, “But I want Dave. I want option A.” He put his arm around me and said, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.”

Dave, to honor your memory and raise your children as they deserve to be raised, I promise to do all I can to kick the shit out of option B. And even though sheloshim has ended, I still mourn for option A. I will always mourn for option A. As Bono sang, “There is no end to grief . . . and there is no end to love.” I love you, Dave.


@Sheryl Sandberg


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