Lyric of the Day: Love & Death

Just a few days after I posted the last Lyric of the Day installment, wherein I examined, amongst other things, how the experience of a newborn baby can be a symbol for the purity of love, I happened to hear a song I hadn’t heard in a while that contains an expression of love from another part of the life cycle.

Love is watching someone die.

–from Death Cab For Cutie‘s What Sarah Said, 2005

As you might recall from last week’s post, the lyric by Mason Jennings suggests that freedom is the ability to feel love for everyone, and freedom is described by U2’s Bono as having a scent like the top of a newborn baby’s head, a beautifully clever way of describing pure love.

But how does watching someone die constitute love?

Even if you aren’t that close to someone who dies, witnessing their passing — if not at the time of death, then through attending the funeral or visiting with the deceased’s family — can make you feel quite the opposite.

I remember a few years ago I attended a neighbor’s funeral. He was someone I’d gotten to know only slightly, having interacted with his wife and two sons more than with him, but when I was at the service, thinking about how his family would miss him, and thinking of how he lost them as much as they lost him, very deep feelings were stirred up for me. And, when the first shovel of dirt was tossed into his grave and landed with a thud on the coffin, the floodgates opened up and I wept as if he was a very dear friend.

Nothing else, it seems to me, can explain that experience except that we humans have an inherent and enormous capacity to love.

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