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Bella and Edward both experience profound, bone crushing loss in New Moon.  (They experience other profound suffering later in the series, too, but the experience in New Moon serves the point here.)  The difference is Bella experiences it from the perspective of a 17-year old girl, and Edward goes through it from the perspective of someone who has amassed 100 years of life experience.   The distinction is relevant because of the way they manifest their loss and sense of grief.

Their literal ages are not important, but archetypally, the age difference represents an interesting paradox.  We might expect the “mature” soul to be better equipped to eventually navigate through despair and heartache better than an emotional 17-year old girl.  Interestingly, though, it is Bella who eventually chooses to open her eyes to refocus on her immediate world again –- she at least takes a chance at life again, and because of that decision, she and Jake are reunited and become best friends.  Bella opens her heart to another possibility, to another future.  It still is not the one she would choose first, but at least she chooses to live again, to laugh again, and to love again.  The journey through that kind of loss, grief, despair and depression often leaves people hollow permanently, or at least a part of themselves.  For Bella, however, in that one moment in the truck when she almost kisses Jake before she realizes Carlisle’s car is in front of her house, she lets herself consider, and even entertains, the idea of finding happiness with Jake.  She at least opens herself for a split second to another version of happiness.

Edward, on the other hand, admits later when he returns from Italy that even if Bella had never jumped from the cliff, he still eventually would have returned to her to beg her to take him back.  He never would have been able to consider another version of happiness; and when he believes Bella is dead, he takes immediate action to initiate steps to end his life.  When Bella saves him, though, he sees everything more clearly, even the scent of her blood is less difficult for him, and he takes nothing for granted.  He spends every minute of every day totally present with her and totally present in what matters to him.

Like Edward and Bella, we all suffer loss in our lives, some more profound than others, such as the death of a child or the unexpected and untimely death of a mate, but the greater the loss and the greater the suffering from it, the more profound the recovery when we eventually open ourselves to it.  When we eventually surrender the pain to God because we can no longer carry the burden alone, we begin to see a flicker of consoling and soothing companionship in God’s presence.  God feels our suffering and comforts our sense of loss when we finally look up to see another way.  In other words, we must eventually learn to see those experiences of heart-wrenching loss not as permanent challenges and limitations, but as opportunities to see what we are capable of.    When we know what we are capable of, we learn who we really are, and through the experience of learning who we are, we develop our spiritual self-esteem perhaps for the first time, and only then do we recognize that God is always there — showing us how strong we really are, showing us what we are capable of, and thus showing us who we really are.

Bella was able to do that in her experience with loss, but Edward was not (at first).   Fortunately, when she saves him, though, he never takes another moment for granted and makes it his life’s purpose to serve his own personal version of the Savior archetype (Bella, to be discussed later).

Jake also experiences profound loss as Bella is repeatedly ripped from his realm of possibilities.   Jake again and again suffers agonizing grief over his inability to be with Bella, and only when he surrenders to his grief completely (rather than trying to mask it or pretend it does not exist with bravado and sarcasm) does he finally know what he is capable of (surviving without her).  As fate and destiny go, it is only after he reaches this point of total self-awareness and self-integrity that Nessie comes into his world — not because he “needs” her in order to be whole, but because he himself is already (now) whole to be of service to her.    Not until Jake experienced all of his gut-wrenching pain and loss, though, did he know what he was capable of in terms of being capable of utter vulnerability, utter selflessness and unconditional love no matter what the consequences are.   Not until he saw he was capable of that was he ready for the true love of his life.

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