I’m looking forward to going on adventures with the girls of A Place Further Than the Universe, because I’m anticipating them showing me all I could accomplish with help from the bright souls I know, and might still come to meet. It’s frightening, standing at the signpost to a new life path, knowing it’s where you need to go and faltering. But Mari wants so deeply to make her youth mean something, and Shirase has an even deeper need to reach Antarctica. Her mother went missing on an expedition there, three years ago. She’s held on to the hope that she’s still alive out there, somewhere. She’s clutched tight to the dream of going out into the biting wastes to find her, waiting and knowing her daughter wouldn’t leave her there alone.
Even moving ahead with my life bereft of my mum feels like an unmapped journey across an unforgiving landscape. I want to move on, and yet I don’t want to feel I’m forgetting about her. Shirase’s improbable destination is almost uncomfortably close to how I imagine my way through the rest of my life, leaving footprints on unmarked territory until I may or may not see her again. But there’s a feeling that the destination isn’t the key to Shirase’s search for comfort, but gathering the friends and laughter to spark greater adventures her mother would want her to have.
Little lessons like these are all starting to mean something more. The courage to be something she would be proud of is even in choosing to brave the small stuff I’m scared of. My mother loved adventures, her life was full of them. I can take her wild spirit into myself, just by stepping out into life on my own. Loss makes us see our futures differently. It leads us down new paths. It challenges us to take the best of those we’ve lost and bring them with us in all we do, to do right by them. Loss is a calling. An incentive to action, to explore where we were afraid to before. Surely, nothing could be harder to face than losing a loved one. That ironic optimism, when we can seize it, makes us braver.