Winnie-the-Pooh and Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
Among a plethora of poets, these two stand out in framing what the “bear of very little brain”–and so much heart–understood as the exquisitely lacerating inseparability of love and grief once the one we love is no longer within reach of our suddenly achingly restrictive five senses.
“How lucky I am,” pondered Winnie-the-Pooh, “to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
(My bear friend did not mean a permanent goodbye. . . but then, neither do I.)
“A Fearful and Beautiful Thing,” although that amalgamation may not fully emerge until separation.
Love as catastrophic good fortune.
How lucky I was.
A hand that can be clasp’d no more—
Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
And like a guilty thing I creep
At earliest morning to the door.
When I rise, now in the supreme desolation of heading out without my beloved last beagle, Rufus–whose preternatural judgment-free listening skills remained undiminished even in the abject deafness of his antiquity–whenever possible I first make my way to the empty edges of the world in which I still tread.
Such vast spaces used to be the stuff of my worst fears, as may be true for many of us smallish sentient beings.
Now I am compulsively drawn to those landscapes without end, where gold-plum cloudscapes overcome the divide with earth, “our heaven, for a while.”
Where the moon still ceaselessly circles, and the sun dependably arrives even when concealed by a bank of bruised blue.
A fearful and beautiful thing.