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  • My mum took me to see Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet when I was 15 years old. I was, like, soooooo in love with Leonardo DiCaprio at the time, we were going to get married one day. I can still remember how intensely I felt, seeing that first shot of Romeo in the film, sitting on the beach, all swagger and brooding. I lived vicariously through Juliet/Claire Danes, imagining every kiss, every look, every worshipful touch, was for me and me alone.

    I'd read the play at school, I knew how it ended, but throughout the film I fervently prayed that somehow, they'd rewrite the ending. They just HAD to, right? Such an intense, beautiful, star-crossed love did not have to end. Could not end.
    When it inevitably did, oh how it hurt.

    The loss was palpable.

    The intensity of being 15 and feeling everything with the volume turned up was an exquisite, intense, fleeting time of my life.

    Fast-forward to today. I saw a movie (I won't say which, I don't want to spoil the ending for you!) in the company of an excited group of 15 year old girls. As the trailers played before the film began, they called out and giggled and gasped and whispered (loudly, as only teenage girls do!), and unlike the people around them, telling them to shush and groaning at their immaturity, I felt a tenderness towards those girls. Towards the 15 year old girl I once was. And while I too cried at the ill-fated love story playing out on the screen, I realized it didn't hurt as much as it would have 16 years ago.

    Loss is relative.

    I found other things more sad, in a way. The profoundly tragic loss of a child. The absolute truth of mortality, and the greater sense of my own mortality than when I was 15 years old.

    It is a different perspective that allows me, at 31, to still feel deeply sad at the idea of losing your true love, but also know that losing a child may just be the worst kind of loss to suffer.

    When I went to the bathroom after the film ended, I heard a few of these 15 year old girls sobbing in their cubicles. The sweetness of it. Part of me longed for that same sense of the world, that the end of true love was the worst you could experience, and that my own mortality was merely a remote theoretical concept.

    Somewhere inside me, 15 year old Kate and 31 year old Kate, are reconciled, musing over their shared, but different experiences of loss.
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