Tag Archives: sadness

The weight of sorrow

Like everyone else, certain songs, smells, movies, TV shows, names, foods, streets, and people  trigger painful memories for me. Sometimes the sadness seems too much to bear.

I realize it is a part of human experience; there is nothing special about my pain. Still, when I am stuck in an elevator listening to my ex’s favorite song, keeping a detached expression on my face when I want to drop to my knees and weep, the sadness seems more intense than any joy.

Am I being melodramatic? Or does the weight of sorrow truly fall heavier on our lives?

My niece, a believer in the power of positive thinking, says, “Maybe it just seems worse when you’re going through a bad time because you just don’t want to be going through it.”

Good point. Resistance causes drag, slows things down. Simple physics.

I started playing music that reminded me of a time in my life when I thought I had it nailed, thought love would cradle me forever. Sometimes I didn’t last more than a CD or two. Other days, I’d grit my teeth and get through it. After a while, I found the music began to weave a tapestry in the background and my focus on the task strengthened.

Then, I heard a new song by a new artist that seemed aimed directly at me, at triggering those painful memories. The weight again brought me to my knees. The pain of my breakup with the man I thought I would grow old with hit me as if it were yesterday.

I don’t want him back. My pragmatic personality always wins out. He would never be someone I could trust, his words belied his actions. No, it wasn’t him I missed. It was the dream of him, of our lives together. I regretted what could have been, what I had believed was true. In fact, it doesn’t matter what did or didn’t happen to me. The sorrow is as real, and heavy, as a blacksmith’s anvil.

Is it possible to forge something strong and permanent from such a massive burden? I thought my emotional muscles would be stronger by now. Life doesn’t seem to work that way. Sorrow grows, like an oak, slowly but inexorably into a great and solid organism.

I stopped eating meat after watching videos of the casual, rampant cruelty in the corporate farming industry. Grown men kicking and stomping animals because they couldn’t defend themselves.  The animals simply had to endure. I imagined being caged inside my tiny bathroom. For the rest of my life, with random people coming by to torture me at will. Anger welled inside me along with the dreadful knowledge that there was nothing I could do.  I cried for the caged creatures and the humans who don’t care.

Maybe that is what adds to the weight of my own sorrow. It isn’t just what I lost, the missed opportunities and regrets. It is about the day-to-day sadness of casual cruelty. I know that it is part of the fabric of life and there is so little I can do. I don’t support the industry, lend my support to promoting awareness, and stop it when I can.

Maybe because of the lightness of joy, the ethereal quality of happiness, the weight of sorrow is what grounds us.


more poetry


She hummed and sang in the car

Rising bars of melody

That warmed her throat,

And filled her diaphragm with breath.

She parked the car,

Still singing Amazing Grace,

But softly now, concentrating

On enunciation.

There were other cars in the lot,

Other performers,

Early for practice.

Inside, they walked around

The stage, papers in hand,

Speaking, singing quietly,

Rehearsing away the butterflies

And tremors.

As the hour neared, she searched

Each new face,

Each stranger settling into a chair,

Chatting, eager for entertainment.

She fretted over last minute changes,

Worried that her words

Would not fall from her mouth

In sequence.

Wondered if her poems

Were too dark,

Too metaphorical.

Were the images clear?

Would the audience

See and hear

The message she needed

So desperately to convey?

Then she stepped up,

Lights shone in her eyes,

Voices hushed,

For one long, frozen moment

She stood alone

In the silence.

She lifted her eyes

Saw beyond the light,

And spoke eloquently,

Projected and enunciated,

Seeing the world

She’d committed to paper

Laid out for strangers.

Afterward, warm praise

Made the fear a little smaller,

A little softer.

On the drive home

She sang Amazing Grace.

Carefully, carefully,



Hold me in the dark,

Not talking.

Breathe against my hair.

When you’re asleep

I’ll go,

And take this memory.

Save it,


In a velvet place

Where only I can find it.


Those waking moments

In the darkness

Of the morning

Do you still reach for me?

When you’re walking in a crowd

Do you look, without seeing

For my hair?

When you unwrap

An ice cream sandwich

Do you want to share it,

Bite for bite?

Do you remember

The little ways

We loved each other?

Are they still small

Or have they grown

To fill the empty place

Where I used to be?


There is a place in the bed

Where the blanket never wrinkles,

Or shifts.

It’s on the side where I don’t sleep,

Where the lamp

Doesn’t cast its glow

While I’m reading.

Even during the darkest

Hours of unconsciousness,

When my dreams are real,

My hands never push the

Pillow askew, or yank

The sheet from the corner.

When I wake in the morning

To crisp birdsong,

And sunlight,

bending over the windowsill,

I see that smooth,

Still place,

Where you slept,

And loved me.