When someone you love and treasure becomes absent from your life, it leaves a void that can never be filled. It’s a heartbreaking loss, whether it’s brought about by death or the ending of a relationship. You never “get over” losing someone; you have to find a way to move forward with your life without them. Outlander’s “All Debts Paid” gives us a glimpse of the pain, heartache, and its lasting effect in two different situations.
Lord John Grey and Jamie are conversing while playing a game of chess in LJG’s quarters. LJG shares the story of the death of Hector, his lover, on the battlefield and how his brother Hal dragged him away before he could say a proper goodbye. “Some people you grieve over forever,” he tells Jamie. It’s obvious he has feelings for Jamie (his tentative overture is rebuffed quite strongly), but the pain and heartache of Hector’s death is something LJG will carry with him for the rest of his life.
Back in 20th century Boston, Claire and Frank are at a crossroads in their marriage. They’ve stayed together for Brianna’s sake, and she’s just turned 18. Frank wants to divorce Claire, marry Sandy (his mistress), and take Brianna with him back to England.
A heated argument ensues, which brings to light the pain and heartache Claire has endured since leaving Jamie at the stones twenty years prior. Poor Frank. There’s no way he can compete with Jamie, and his misery rises to the surface when he asks Claire, “Might you have forgotten him, with time?” Claire’s response is perhaps something Frank is not capable of feeling, understanding, or wrapping his head around. “That amount of time doesn’t exist.”
Both LJG’s and Claire’s pain come from the death of a loved one (Claire doesn’t know at this point that Jamie is still alive). They are both trying to find their way forward without someone who will always hold a place in their heart – perhaps the only true love they will ever know.
Frank’s situation is different. Claire is very much alive, but their marriage is dead. At one point, they were “inseparable,” as Claire once put it. Frank must feel angry and frustrated, trying to compete with a dead man. It seems a hopeless, almost frantic situation for him. Perhaps he didn’t have it in him to love as intensely as Jamie loves Claire. He can’t be anyone other than himself, but it’s not enough for Claire anymore. She’s a changed woman because of all she’s experienced and survived, and she needs more in a relationship than Frank is able to give her.
Claire can’t even explain it. Shortly after their marriage, Jamie asks Claire “Is it always so, with a man and a woman?” After hesitating and answering “yes,” Claire admits that what they have is different, unusual. When they come together after she returns twenty years later, it’s still there. Whatever it is that they have has endured immeasurable challenges and tests of the strength of their relationship. True love? Soul mates? I’ve heard people say that if you have to ask or if you wonder, they’re not “the one.” You will just know. Somehow.
To find a love like that must be amazing. To have it returned in the same measure and intensity, perhaps a miracle. To lose it, an eternal grief that is your companion for the rest of your days on this earth. Those of us who have found ourselves thus must find a way forward with sorrow as our silent companion.