Book impressions: The Last Act of Love, by Cathy Rentzenbrink

the last act of love

“‘Everyone fucks up’, he said to a room full of prisoners, ‘It’s what you do next that matters.’”

“ I looked around the room. If all these people, most of whom hadn’t had my educational advantage or good parenting, could face their demons and get on with life, then maybe I could too.”

I will never look at someone with the same eyes I used to. I will wonder what’s behind the look and attitude they show, and what’s behind the tone and words they choose to say. I will never chase to be surprised of the stories these people might hold – stories of love, grief, pain, excitement, hope or despair. Stories that make them so much more beautiful than what they choose to show.

Having recently finished “The Last Act of Love” made me confirm the thoughts above. It made me experience many mixed feelings – gratitude, hope, empowerment but also the understanding of the multitude of griefs people experience everywhere. And mostly, it made me realise that maybe the arrogant colleague at work might actually show arrogance as a mask to protect her inner grief from the outside intrusive and judgmental world. We all wear masks and that’s our way to cope with life.

“We are still at the grief party, after all. A place where the clocks have no rule, where the bar is always open. A place that you get a pass from, after a while. A stamp on your hand that allows you in and out, that lets you come and go, though not quite as you please. The only mistake, on being allowed out of the party, is thinking that you won’t be back.

Grif is not linear. If you could plot it on a graph, you wouldn’t see a continuous upward gradient from tragedy to recovery but a sharp set of zigzag.”

The book is about the story of a girl (the author) whose brother Matty suffered an accident and was left in a vegetative state after it. For many years, her family and her had hoped that Matty will recover but when all the hope was lost, they decided to let him die, as the last act of love for him.

“Sometimes an absence can become as significant in our lives as a presence.”

But more than that, the book is the story of dealing with the immense pain of having your most loved one disappear and learning to cope with it. The girl was 17 when the accident happened, and for her whole life she tried to live with the pain, failing miserably, getting back on her feet, and learning that pain will never go away.

“I’ve learned that almost everyone has a rucksack. The world is full of people carrying around a toxic narrative, pulled down by a sadness or a grief that they don’t know how to share, and all of us are hiding it from each other.”

“Talking more to real people has helped me to see life as the glorious, unshaped mess that it is. Things won’t fit, won’t behave, won’t allow themselves to be finished, finite, completed.”

I had the honor to meet some amazing people lately, people that manage to be so beautiful despite the immense pain they go through. They inspire me to love them a little more and through them, to love the life and appreciate more its beauty.

Her conclusion at the end of the book is really inspirational:

“I have worked out that the only way to be alive in the world is to carry out acts of love and hope for the best”.

I recommend reading the book – it’s truly inspirational and will help you put your life and the life of the dear ones around you in a different perspective. The book is amazingly well written and sadness gets a positive nuance in the beautiful story of hope that Cathy depicts. The Last Act of Love – Enjoy!

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