4 December

The Meaning Of Love And Death

by Jon Katz

We have a good friend who lost her husband recently, she lives a few hours away in the Berkshires, but we could not feel closer to her, we talk to her and meet with her when she can. Her name is Eve Marko and she is a writer and teacher.

Eve’s husband died a few weeks after, three years after a shattering stroke. Eve has been writing about the death of husband Bernie, an important figure in contemporary Zen Buddhism on her blog, evemarko.com.

I was peripherally involved in the starting of her blog.

When her husband had his stroke, she told me that she could not afford to write any more. I told her she could not afford not to write any more, and I was shocked to hear that she had taken my advice. Most people don’t, and I rarely offer any.

I am so glad for that, Eve has decided to write about her marriage, her life, and her hard work to come to terms with death, with her own independence, and with the true nature of real love, which is rarely easy, never simple, and only sporadically romantic.

Hers is the best and most useful writing about death I have yet come across with the exception of Joan Didion. I preach authenticity in writing to my students, most can’t quite come to do it, or at least not yet.

Like Didion, but unlike so many others, Eve is able to write without drama or pathos or self-pity. She is not seeking messages of support and adoration.  She has no desire to be pitied or enabled.

She draws comfort from nothing but the truth and the fine workings of her mind. She never glorifies her husband or deifies him in the way so many people do when someone dies.

She seeks to understand what their love was about, and what it wasn’t, not so she can grieve him but so that she can honor him and go forward to live her life.

I can testify that this kind of honesty is frightening and difficult, most of us are taught never to do it. Eve, perhaps because she is a well-known Zen teacher, comes to authenticity naturally and powerfully.

I’d rather not describe what Eve has written, she has a mind that should be experienced first-hand. She has always reminded me of the moral philosopher Hannah Arendt, whose work has also been important to me.

Eve’s portrait of the life and death of her husband, and of her own struggles to come to terms with love and death, are quite remarkable, at least to me.

I read them carefully every day.

Those subjects have always been important to me.

I would urge anyone interested in true love and the nature of life to take a look for themselves.

6 Comments

  1. I remember thanking you some time ago for introducing us to Eve, whom I have read ever since, so this a good time to thank you once again. Her dog died shortly before Bernie passed. I (probably one of many) emailed her at the time urging her to get another dog ASAP, and she did. Every one of her blog posts is worth reading, and I encourage anyone just discovering her to go back through her archives.

  2. Ah, thanks for reminding me of the connection. I have been following Eve’s blog for some time now, but had forgotten how I found her. Yes, her writing is insightful, thought-provoking and also healing. I’m so glad to have found her through you.

  3. Jon, I owe you a debt of gratitude for having introduced Eve’s writing to your readers. Her writing is phenomenal and has had profound effects on my life. So has your writing, and Maria’s and Carol’s. The empathy and insights into life and death that I have experienced here and on all your blogs have helped me through a personal crisis in my family and the open discussions of your experiences with mental illness were an inspiration professionally when I was working on my last film about mental illness.

    Thank you.

  4. totally agree with you. i love her writing. it’s so honest and true – her words since bernie’s death pierce my heart.

  5. Jon, I echo Tony. Thank you for introducing us to Eve, Maria, Rachel, Susan, Abra, Carol and many others through your writings. Your experiences, and their experiences unite us all. I feel as if I am never alone in what I experience. My nagging ego likes to make think I am alone, so different; truth trumps my ego, and shows me, NOPE, I have kindred spirits everywhere.

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