It was by chance encounter
(not at all uncommon in human experience,
but, for them, at that moment, surpassingly surprising)
when, in the ordinariness of following their daily calendars,
the two, by one extraordinary fortune, came to the that place…
when the natural course of events
and (could it have been?) providence came face-to-face…
when he looked into her eyes, exclaiming
(tho’, in fear of seeming, at least, impetuous
and, at most, at worst, preposterous, silently with inner voice),
“Ah, I behold my destiny!”
It would take time and time again before he knew what he had meant.
(For oft it had been true for him that he hadn’t known what he thought or felt,
what dwelt in the deepest regions of heart and soul,
‘til he reflected on what he’d heard himself say.)
Upon second and third (truly, numbers-on-end) thought,
he came to believe, to know
that with her (if their mutual choice would allow)
he would learn and grow to become more fully, freely, faithfully himself
(indeed and in deed, his self)
than e’er he would or could be without her.
Once he confessed this to her,
she, in so many, aye, in her own words, said the same.
And so, it was that they wed.
Now, years later, having traveled and traveling still life’s course –
at some turns, wondrously delightful
(their hearts pulsing with e’er ripening, enlivening joy),
and at others, tortuously painful
(their souls reddened, marked with unseen, yet known bloodened stripes) –
they have arrived at this place:
Of remembering the supple flesh of their youth,
yet, with older eyes, beholding, but relishing no less, their hard-won aged lines…
Of reliving and living still the victories of dreams realized and…
Of reminding themselves of hopes ne’er fulfilled…
Of reveling in
(or, at most and, sometimes, at least
– given the human temporal tendency to lose focus,
thus, willingly wandering back and weltering in yesterday
or wishing to gaze into the days after this day – striving to savor) the present…
Of recognizing that on some given day and at some given time,
one, and then, on some ensuing day and time, the other,
with the final fluttering of eyelids,
with the shuttering of the windows to the world,
with that last murmured breath, a whisper of wind rising, fading,
will arrive at the close of this age.
And, reflecting on Tennyson’s lyric judgment,
‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,
they, with swift and sure discernment, sigh, say, sing, “Amen!”
Note: ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, from Canto 27 of In Memoriam A.H.H. (aka In Memoriam) (1849) by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892); Tennyson’s poetic requiem for his beloved friend Arthur Henry Hallam.
3 thoughts on “Love & Loss”
Didn’t see this yesterday but it totally awesome!! Love & Loss – there’s so much to hold on to, even after the loss!!
Ah, Paul. You have encompassed it all. What a sweet recounting of the experience of falling in love, making the leap of faith it requires and then facing what comes, arriving finally – but, truth be told, in the seeming twinkling of an eye – at THIS place, which before we even notice it will have morphed into another and different THIS place someday.
I echo your “amen” to Tennyson’s sentiment. But I would add, I think, love is never lost; if there is in any moment real love, we are always changed by it and almost always the richer for it, no matter how the story ends. I would recommend to you a book of poems by a Minnesota poet I heard read yesterday. Her name is Norita Dittberner-Jax. Her husband suffered from ALS and died a year ago. She is clearly still grieving his loss, but she is radiant with the memories of their life together. The poem collection is called “Crossing the Waters.” (I know you would particularly appreciate it, Loretta.)
Thank you for this reminder, Paul.
Much love to you and Pontheolla,
Karen, I thank you for the recommendation to look up Norita Dittberner-Jax and her collection of poems, “Crossing the Waters.” I will.
As for your observation, “I think, love is never lost; if there is in any moment real love, we are always changed by it and almost always the richer for it, no matter how the story ends,” I agree. For, as Loretta writes, “…there’s so much to hold on to, even after the loss!” Amen to that!
Still, when I speak or write of the loss of love, I reference, specifically and especially, in Tennyson’s sense, that inexorable experience of existential death. O’er the years, for example, whenever couples have come for pre-marital preparation – and this used to surprise me, but, given, now, many of these occasions, it no longer does – I’d guess that about 50% (though that is a conservative figure, for the number, doubtless, is higher) of the couples, when I raise the reality that to engage in bonded, intimate relationship is, one day, to know the deepest loss in the death of one’s loved one, respond saying, in so many words, “We’ve never thought of that!”