She had carried me, dead, in her heart for three kilometers.
~ Jules Renard, Journals
To bear news of a death (prematurely in Renard’s case) will convince anyone that words have mass and weight. I once learned of an acquaintance’s suicide before his girlfriend, a close friend of mine, knew about it. I understood that to tell her myself would mean the end of our relationship as it had existed. I told myself it was a friend’s duty to see that she didn’t hear it from a stranger. Which seems right. But it’s also true that, as a nineteen-year-old ravenous for anything savoring of adult life, I was secretly thrilled at the prospect of being the awful messenger. I carried his corpse for two hours before finally delivering it to her.