There are losses that tear the fabric of our lives in two,
serrated edges and ruptured threads that years, a lifetime,
cannot mend but awkwardly. Here is one such scar I carry
always, and here, another. Holes we learn to sidestep;
we each have many, these interrupted expectations of
enduring love or love’s enduring presence, these partings
that break us wide on the wide and open brilliant stage. The world
allows such grief, briefly holding space for the depth and damage
while the alterations shudder through our lives and settle, seismic
shifts changing us elementally, creating new steps in our forward dance.
But clocks tick; glances divert; watches, feet, and fingers are tapped:
Back to the business of life, its earnest and undead perfection. We adjust,
merge with life’s traffic and dance. The world turns, and turns away,
calling us healed. It cannot bear close or long encounter with the scrutinized
pause. Acceleration is all; there isn’t time for tears that do not dry, wounds
that remain, and the mystery of ghosts who visit the shadowed alleys of memory.
Let go. Let go. Turn, and turn away. On to the edge of that grave we thankfully
will not grieve but occupy, the panicked dance halted, perfectly unexamined.
And there is sorrow the world calls small, carried as pain in the heart,
on the heart, a tender bruise say, the size of a small cat who one day
appeared at the door of our life and stayed, changing everything
in small ways that went unnoticed, except in our dance; its new
improvisations spoke of a deeper joy. But grief at its passing? No;
it makes of us unwanted mirrors. The solace of rushing cannot be
too earnestly pursued. Come, turn, and turn away; do something.
And so, ignored and unexplored, small losses, all sorrows accrue.
A tumor of the brain finally presses on the spine; our slowly-altered
dance one day becomes grotesque in its awkwardness, we tilt and
spin, one-eyed and wincing, comical, unhuman. The heart breaks.
The small child notices. Why does that man halt and wobble so
crookedly? See how he falls behind? Do we laugh or cry? I want
to help him stand; I want to hold him. We must stop to name the
suffering, to steady his trembled dance, to tell him he is loved.
Hush, dear; he’s one who had small things to grieve and did not
surrender, never to grief for something as small as a cat. He is heroic;
do you understand? Feelings devour our time. Never indulge. Look
how he still moves forward and on. So proudly. We honor deep scars
and their making for a moment; small sorrows mean nothing. Clocks
are ticking loudly; on we go. We have things to do, so much to do.
Denial is the better way, or where would our weeping end?
Back to business; time is passing. Turn, and turn away, my dear.
This week has been a year at Full Moon Cottage. The sunlight and its warmth, the birdsong and the woodpeckers’ staccato rhythms, the receding sparkle of snow, and the sweet spring call of the world to plant, nurture new life and drink in its perfumes–all of it is healing our hearts as they adjust to the loss of our darling Fergus. But as people who honor the rhythms and necessary tending of our healing, we resist the insistent need of our culture to “just get over it.”
Fergus mattered, his leaving matters, and all of the lessons he shared need our deep love and exploration as well; our sorrow, too, is a gift, and uncultivated gifts offered in our lives, no matter how painful their tilling and digging, leave us shallow, anxious, and less able to extend compassion when we encounter others meeting their losses and necessary times of healing. As the figure in the poem suggests (I hope), we cripple our humanity and deny its depths when we ignore and compound our small griefs, because grief is never insignificant and the treasures it holds as we make meaning of it can change our lives and change the world. Sorrow, like joy, needs to bloom to its fulfillment. Don’t fear your weeping; meet and embrace it. Weeping creates a necessary human music; it eases heart pain; and it does end.
Please grant yourself the time you need to sift through all the “small losses” of your life and wait for their gold to be perceived, to shine and, in the perfect time of healing, to mend your heart. Peace and joy will return; gently flowing through our awareness and spirits as our sorrow and its gifts integrate with who we are now. Balance can be restored because we’ve allowed grief’s imbalance its voice. So much of healing is listening; how lovely, I think, that “silent” and “listen” use precisely the same letters to communicate the vital medicine we must take to be fully human. Always be willing to indulge in silence and listening. 🙂 Great gentle peace in all your joys and your sorrows.
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8 thoughts on “Small Sorrows”
I was thinking about your Fergus this morning. Especially of the joy brought to you through him over the past years. It made me realize that all the four legged friends I have had — Kitty, Timmy, Sylvestre, Puddie Tat, Amber and Carrie (who is a very much alive 3 year old puppy) have helped me survive. They have been with me when I was unable to think or look up. They shared my great happiness and extreme sadness. I believe they were all God given gifts, and I thank God they were and are in my life. They all helped me in the healing process you mentioned in this message. Thanks for reminding me, Kitty. 😇
Thank you for sharing this Diana; it sounds like your 4-leggeds have been–and are–profound and wonderful companions for you. They do seem to know us in ways our human beloveds never can, don’t they? Possibly it’s their inability to bring judgement, or just the deep presence they offer us. The space around us feels solid and soft at the same time…I agree we’re very blessed to have them as traveling companions on our journeys, aren’t we?
I so appreciate your kindness, Diana, and wish you–and Carrie–all good, and gentle peace.
Thank you, Kitty, for this lovely piece. No, we cannot forget the small sorrows. There is always that rush to keep moving and the demands and the getting things done, but always in the quiet hours, even in the quiet hours, can we hold again those so small and precious, and remember again what a difference they made in our lives. Over a year later, I still remember Pumpkin next door, who I loved no less than if he were my own, and the many little things he did and his funny ways. The thing is, that Fergus isn’t a small sorrow – he may have been small in size, but not in spirit and how he affected you both. He will always be your boy, and you will always remember. Comfort to you in your loss, Kitty. 🐈
Oh, I’m sorry you lost your friend Pumpkin, Jeanne… No, you’re right, Fergus’s death isn’t a small sorrow for us, and it’s so sensitive and kind of you to say so. ♥️ Our celebration of his life is ongoing and gives us a lot of comfort. Thank you for adding to it.
Oh, this is so beautiful and has me sobbing again. You have been in my thoughts since Fergus left, I get your heartbreak, Fergus may have been a fragile little cat but the hole he leaves in your heart is huge. Fergus matters and always will. Love and hugs to you both.xxx
Thank you dear one; I know you well understand the magnitude of such losses, and appreciate your tender heart. We are doing well: it’s immoderately warm and the gardens are rapidly reappearing as the snow melts. And, like you, I stare out at them and try to remember what I planted last autumn, and where…in for a lot of surprises, I think! 🙂 Sending you love and my gratitude for your kindness. xoxoxo
Thank you Kitty for sharing these beautiful words with us. We must allow grief to flow like joy – there is no sell-by-date or end time to it. I have recently lost a very dear College friend to MND and although we knew the outcome of her condition and allowed ourselves the three years since she was diagnosed, to adjust to her being taken away piece by piece, as she eased gradually from our alumni outings and social media messages, it has still come as shock. And a deep sadness to know that she will never reach 60, she will never see any of her children marry, or have grandchildren. A sadness that I will never hear her lilting voice or see her fingers deftly pulling out a tune on the piano.
But as I weep for these losses I am blessed I had the last seven years catching up and reminiscing over our College time together back in the 1980s. Grief has no sell-by-date but it does soften with time, until it becomes a dull ache at the back of our splintered hearts.
Thank you, Sharon Louise, for this beautiful and sensitive affirmation of your gifted friend and your journey with grief and its partner, blessing. I am sorry for this loss in your life, and for the suffering she and her beloveds endured. I pray those grieving will encounter and savor their own shining memories as they travel through sadness to a healing that nourishes their spirits. Gentle peace as the journey continues, Sharon. ❤️🩹