Sunday, January 5, 2014

30 Days of Quotes About Life ~ Day 5 ~ Robert Frost

Day 5 ~

“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.” 

~ Robert Frost

Hey. You're still here, huh? I'm glad.  Since it's just a few of us, why don't you pull up a chair? Tea? 

I mean, no one else is here at this point. It's a Sunday morning, and we can really talk about this quote if there aren't so many people around. 

First, a little about Robert Frost. I'm going to go ahead and just assume that you know who he was, this literary soul. He was a poet and a writer and so much more. Reading more on him personally, I can see now that his wisdom came from a lifetime of sorrow and grief. He lost both of his parents young. The death of his father left the family abjectly poor. He had to commit his own sister to a mental institution, depression ran rampant in his family and only two of his six children outlived him. He lost one child shortly after birth, another at their own hands in suicide.

He had trials, a great many of them. With those experiences, though, a knowledge and wisdom about life that can only come from truly living it. 

This quote.

This damned quote.

I hate this quote.

I love this quote.

“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.” 

This one is true, backwards and forwards, in and out, in all the spaces between everything else that happens to us, and it is the most true in the moments when you want it not to be.

The first time I came face to face with the brutal truth of this quote was on October 26, 1999. Though we walked into the doctor's office that day knowing that there was something going on, having some idea that something might be wrong, having the word cancer be spoken aloud, being attached to the person you just pledged to spend your life with, I knew in an instant that life would never ever be the same again.

I don't honestly remember much about those moments because it all seems so vivid and detailed but blurred together at the same time, like a camera lens that can't seem to focus properly, but fades in and out instead. It happened so fast, and his doctor wasn't one for small talk. He asked if we had questions, but before we could formulate words at all, he was gone.

The car ride home was surreal. The heat was stifling, the brightness of the sun oppressive and cruel. We were both scared, uncertain what the future held, and yet these people around us, all these people in their cars and on the street were going about their days as though nothing had even happened. 

Because nothing had happened to them. 

I remember going to school (I was in law school at the time) for the first time after his surgery. Everyone kept coming up to me, asking what was going on, if he was okay, what the prognosis was. It all seemed weird and wrong. My life was completely different, but my professors were still lecturing about torts and Constitutional law as though nothing had even happened.

Because nothing had happened to them.

A few months later when I lost the baby I had miraculously become pregnant with, it was the same all over. My world was completely changed. No one else's was.   My classmates all worried about reading and taking notes and test prep as though nothing had even happened.

Because nothing had happened to them.

I've been in this place now enough times to know that no matter what happens to us, the rest of the world just keeps spinning. No matter what we want or need from the universe at that moment, time urges us all forward. 


Sometimes we realize it as I did in those moments, when you feel like you've been frozen in time and the rest of the world moves on without you. As though you're standing in the middle of a crowd, unable to move or speak or breathe, and no one else even sees you. 

Sometimes we realize it in other ways, as we did in the weeks after my father's death when my sister in law found out she was pregnant again unexpectedly.  

Sometimes we realize it on our darkest days, sometimes in our moments of most profound joy. 

Life always goes on. 


  1. It is my opinion that the quote by Robert Frost that 'life goes on" is referenced by him to people who are facing adverse circumstances. No matter what happens in life, life goes on and people have to adapt and move forward with their lives despite the obstacles that they are dealing with. You and your husband had to come to terms with the cancer diagnosis and realizing that your lives had changed immediately. I understand how you were probably screaming inside for everyone to recognize and show compassion about what you were going through. But the reality of it is we have no idea what people are going through unless we know for example of you and your husband's situation. However, the positive aspect concerning the quote "life goes on" is that you and your husband and family have dealt with the situation and have moved forward with your lives despite the adversity.


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