Monday, October 31, 2011


This past weekend marked what would have been the 45th wedding anniversary for my beloved Pam and me.
I lost her in February of 2008, coming up on four years now. I miss her and think about her every minute of every day. The pain and emptiness might be unbearable if I didn't also remind myself on each of those days that, before losing her, I had the blessing of having Pam in my life for 41-plus years. That—along with knowing she would expect nothing less but for me to carry on—is what has sustained me through these years without her.
All of that brings me to a reflection on the age-old question:
            Is it better to have loved and lost … or never to have loved at all?
            From my perspective, the answer is simple: Yes, it is better to have loved. The alternative, not having had Pam for the time I did—no, I would not have missed that treasure for anything. Not even to avoid the pain of losing her. She was the best part of me, what made me whole. The term "soul mates" is overused almost to the point of being a cliché, but I truly believe that is what Pam and I found in one another. And as long as she stays alive in my heart, she is never really gone. I still write her cards on occasions such as her birthday, our anniversary, holidays, etc., and put them next to her urn in our living room. One day my ashes will be mixed with hers and we will be together again …

            Another reason for this reflection stems from a conversation I had with my granddaughter, Emily, recently. She was telling me about one of her favorite songs from one of her favorite singing groups. The group is Mayday Parade and the song is called "Terrible Things". She played it for me and then, because I can't understand most of what these current rock groups are screeching these days, she read me the lyrics.
            The gist of the song is a father talking to his son and warning him of the terrible things life can have in store and encouraging him to try and avoid them, especially not to fall in love. It seems the boy's mother died very young, living only long enough for the parents to fall in love and the child to be born.
            Some of the key lyrics are:
            " … That's when I met your mother, the girl of my dreams
            The most beautiful woman that I'd ever seen
             … I said, girl can I tell you a wonderful thing?
            I made you a present with paper and string
            Open with care now, I'm asking you please
            You know that I love you, will you marry me?
             … She said, boy can I tell you a terrible thing?

            It seems that I'm sick and I've only got weeks

            Please don't be sad now, I really believe
            You were the greatest thing to ever happen to me
             … So don't fall in love, there's just too much to lose
            If you're given the choice, I'm begging you choose
            To walk away, walk away
            Don't let it get you, I can't bear to see the same happen to you
            Now son, I'm only telling you this because life can do terrible things."
            When she had finished reading this to me, I asked Emily why the song spoke to her so strongly. She said because she felt that love was "kind of a joke", a fantasy, and that it only lead to heartache. This from a 17-year-old beauty who's had her heart "broken" several times by boys who turned out to be "jerks" (actually, she used a little stronger language than that, but never mind exactly what).
            I realize she is young and perhaps will have her heart broken—and will break a few of her own—several more times before she experiences deep, genuine love. But it troubled me to hear her sentiments on the subject stated so firmly (even if only temporarily, I hope) at this stage in her young life. I realize, of course, I was probably personalizing it a bit due to my own circumstances of having lost a great love. I reminded her of that, the special thing her grandmother and I had, to try and demonstrate to her that love wasn't always "a joke". She conceded that maybe sometimes it could work out that way, but still she seemed to cling to the belief that mostly it only led to heartache.
            It saddened me to hear that … and still does, thinking about it.
            For all I know, Emily has fallen in and out of love a half dozen times since that conversation. In this age of texting and Facebook romances and so forth, the word "love" seems to get tossed around very freely. Maybe that's part of the problem, why it can seem like a joke—because the word and the meaning are at risk of becoming too superficial.
            That would sadden me most of all. If our young lose the hope of true love, then that would be a terrible thing indeed.
            For me, I know better. I know real love is out there and if you're lucky enough to find it, then whatever else may result is worth it.
            So I'll close with some lyrics that speak to me—from Garth Brooks' "The Dance":
            "For a moment all the world was right
 … Holding you, I held everything
            For a moment wasn't I the king
            … I could have missed the pain
            But I'd of had to miss the dance."

Persevere — WD


jrlindermuth said...

I hope your granddaughter will learn what you already know, my friend--it is definitely better to have loved and lost. The alternative is just too bleak.

Naomi Johnson said...

If one succeeds at avoiding the heartaches in life, it is always at the cost of ever experiencing the great joys. But she's only 17. She'll probably learn that before she's much older.