Photo by Anna Reavis
“But just hearing music, even the saddest sort of song, lets you know you’re not all of every way alone, that someone else has known the likesomeness of what you have.” Laurel Shelton
It’s been a long time since I’ve thought to wish I could talk to my mama. The Cove, by Ron Rash, made me wish just that. The truth in the cadences of the old speech, the speech of my grandparents, makes me miss them and by extension her. I'd forgotten how much I miss those voices, the voices of my past.
Of all the themes in The Cove, the one that resonates most with me is Laurel Shelton’s determination to overcome all the hate, prejudice, and ostracism leveled at her in a community I know well, figuratively speaking. As I read, I thought about people I know who have suffered. There is a depth, a complexity, a complication, in them all. There are no easy answers; there is no ease. Having lived through hard times can make you feel untouchable, above the everyday, even above the people around you. But the truth is we are all of the earth; we are all bound by gravity to the dirt under our feet. You have to learn to live in the midst of humanity: sweltering, stinking, hateful, and glorious as we all are. You learn to make your life what you want it to be, without regard for your pain. And that is exactly what Laurel Shelton does. She takes every bad turn given her, moves on, and turns hope into life, however briefly. This is the story of a life bravely lived, even though Laurel probably would have been too humble to realize it. Bravery of the everyday kind is often the hardest to come by.