The greater Santa Barbara Middle School community gathered at sunrise on January 12 at Leadbetter Beach to eulogize school parent David Cantin, who died during last week’s flooding in Montecito. Cantin is the father of 9th-grader Lauren Cantin, 14, whose rescue from the muddy wreckage was widely televised. Lauren was reunited with her mother shortly after the storm. Her brother, Jack Cantin, 17, was still miss- ing as of Tuesday afternoon. Memories, songs, and poetry marked the morning with the painful joy of grief in the comfort of friends and family. English teacher Elyse Grossman read an excerpt from poet David Whyte’s Consolations, below.
Solace is the art of asking the beautiful question, of ourselves, of our world or of one another, in fiercely difficult and un-beautiful moments. Solace is what we must look for when the mind cannot bear the pain, the loss or the suffering that eventually touches every life and every endeavor; when longing does not come to fruition in a form we can recognize, when people we know and love disappear, when hope must take a different form than the one we have shaped for it. Solace is the beautiful, imaginative home we make where disappointment can go to be rehabilitated. When life does not in any way add up, we must turn to the part of us that has never wanted a life of simple calculation. Solace is found in allowing the body’s innate wisdom to come to the fore, the part of us that already knows it is mortal and must take its leave like everything else, and leading us, when the mind cannot bear what it is seeing or hearing, to the birdsong in the tree above our heads … each note an essence of morning and mourning; of the current of a life moving on, but somehow, also, and most beautifully, carrying, bearing, and even celebrating the life we have just lost.