We were talking the other evening about the phrases one uses when trying to comfort someone who is in distress. I told him that in English we sometimes say, “I’ve been there.” This was unclear to him first—I’ve been where? But I explained that deep grief sometimes is almost like a specific location, a coordinate on a map of time. When you are standing in that forest of sorrow, you cannot imagine that you could ever find your way to a better place. But if someone can assure you that they themselves have stood in that same place, and now have moved on, sometimes this will bring hope.

“So sadness is a place?” Giovanni asked.

“Sometimes people live there for years,” I said.

“As they spoke, the only thing I could think about was that scene from Julius Caesar where Brutus stabs him in the back. Et tu, Eric?”
― Nicholas SparksA Walk to Remember

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