The mayor’s wife was just one of a worldwide brigade. You have seen her before, I’m certain. In your stories, your poems, the screens you like to watch. They’re everywhere, so why not here? Why not on a shapely hill in a small German town? It’s as good a place to suffer as any…The point is, Ilsa Hermann had decided to make suffering her triumph. When it refused to let go of her, she succumbed to it. She embraced it.
“The older I get, the more I’m convinced: I’ve suffered for a reason. It’s a reason I don’t know yet, but for all of my twenty years it’s been circling me—a forecast of something mighty. There’s no way a person could be born into dysfunction, fighting to survive and helping her family do the same, without some purpose to give it all meaning. On the days that feel dark and endless, I make myself a simple promise: I’ll get out of bed in the morning. Then I’ll head up the hill to class. If I put one foot in front of the other, day by day, I’ll move closer to the light at the end of all this struggle.“
“Although growing old and dying is inevitable, people still arrive at old age feeling betrayed by their bodies. The most ordinary aspects of life can be met with extraordinary resistance, and this resistance itself causes suffering. Once we stop denying the certainty of death, then we can take full advantage of the time that we have in this precious human form.”