Sorrow’s Springs

Tonight I broke down and cried. I’m not ashamed to say so.  It’s the first time since the dissolution of my marriage, and the news of my son’s cancer.  Maybe listening to Susan Graham singing Reynaldo Hahn’s beautiful, and sad, songs wasn’t the right music to listen to while writing to my new daughter-in-law Rachel.

I learned this morning that Rachel’s grandmother Nancy passed away in the early hours of the day, with Rachel there and her family. This wasn’t unexpected, and in so many ways a blessing, ending her slow decline, over several years, from liver cancer.  Nancy was a strong and lovely woman with a huge warm heart. Her passing leaves an irreplaceable hole in her family.  I have the fondest memories of many holiday meals and celebrations at her, and her husband Norm’s, wonderful house in Lafayette.  Rachel and Adam plan to have their wedding, now wedding celebration, there.  I hope they still can.

Still, this is a loss, and this is accursed cancer. It strikes too close to home. Writing to Rachel, knowing all the emotions she’s had to bear, with Adam’s lymphoma news, with her grandmother’s death, with her father’s own, now successful, fight with cancer, the tears just flowed.

I feel very alone here.

I’m thinking of the poem Spring and Fall by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Márgarét, áre you gríeving

Over Goldengrove unleaving?

Leáves like the things of man, you

With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?

Ah! ás the heart grows older

It will come to such sights colder

By and by, nor spare a sigh

Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;

And yet you wíll weep and know why.

Now no matter, child, the name:

Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.

Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed

What heart heard of, ghost guessed:

It ís the blight man was born for,

It is Margaret you mourn for.


I, too, am mourning for myself, for what I’ve lost: sorrow’s springs are the same. These are internal states, part of the story I’m telling about myself, and not anything about just what’s happening.  I know this.

Yet, why did my wife have to end our marriage? It’s not really a question but a cry in the dark.  Can’t people be true to one another, in need and loving support, even if love isn’t there?  What does it even mean to say I love you, or…I no longer love you?

It is a failure to accept what’s possible.

I’m lucky, now, to live closer to Adam, to have no other relationship with which to share my time.  A result of being on my own.

What we know and what we feel aren’t the same.

Tonight feelings are overwhelming knowledge.


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