• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 07

Love hurts

They painted funeral portraits in some antique cultures and made statues, not afraid of a likeness that would tear them up. They didn’t want to forget, to consign their dearly beloveds to sanitized holes in the ground and best not thought of again because it’s upsetting and who wants to be upset? Grief was on-going in those days, a fact of life.

All old people died, many young ones and flocks of children and babies, but that doesn’t mean they got used to it. There are portraits of middle-aged couples, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians standing close, leaning into one another, a toddler with a kitten, a young boy with a dog, same as your neighbours, same smiling eyes, same sorrow.

We think they were inhuman, those ancients, that they spent all their time making human sacrifices, thrashing slaves, feeding Christians to lions, making talismans out of human body parts. Maybe they did do a bit of that, but who are we to cast stones? Remember genocides? They loved their children though, and their children loved their pets, just like ours. The ways of the heart don’t change with the passing of time, melting of glaciers, erosion of cliffs and so much water under bridges.

Maybe if we were to dig down deep, beneath the veneer of sleek sophistication and over-indulged wealth, beneath the layers of cosmeticked self-satisfaction, we might find the way to look at a child and see just a child, to see each small death as a reason for grieving, and in doing so, discover a smidgen of the humanity of those antique barbarians.