Can Love Eclipse Sorrow?

“She made of her life an offering, a beautiful gift far greater than the sum of the heartbreaks that had come one after the other. She proved, with her life, that great love can eclipse great sorrow.”

–excerpt from a eulogy by Santa Cruz writer, Nancy Grace, for her mother

Tell me about someone who fits this description. (And it could be you.)

Comments

  1. Fran Stekoll says

    I fell in love at 16, married at 19, had three great kids and divorced at 63 after
    46 years. I thought I would never be a statistic. My parents divorced after 50 years of marriage and I wanted to defy all odds and stay as long as I could
    even though deep down I knew it was over years ago. I stayed for the kids; but even they wondered why I waited so long.
    I met Matt in 1997. His wife had a stroke and he took care of her for 8 years.
    They’d been together for 58 years. He wrote a book “Friends In Love, Partners for Life, Secrets of a Successful Relationship” He had a wonderful marriage.
    After 14 years of a whirlwind marriage with Matt, he decided after two strokes
    he’d just check out . I went on line “Senior People Meet”. I met Gus. He had lost his wife two months prior to my loss. We talked for hours on the phone.
    He lived in Sunnyvale. After 3 months of e-mails and conversations, we met.
    I felt like a giddy teenager. He shared so much of his life with me. He said I was the only woman who listened. I found that hard to believe as I usually am the one who won’t stop talking; but in my training as a counselor, I have learned to listen. We have been best friends now for over a year. I have never felt so totally loved. He completes me. He compliments me and admires all I stand for. I admire him and all he is. Together we have great
    chemistry. I don’t see him more than twice each month as our schedules are packed with family and volunteering, yet we have managed to take a few week long trips together. We have met each others children. I am blessed at the age of 78, same age as he, to have found the greatest love of my life.
    We don’t want to marry, yet we respect each other and enjoy each day as we
    don’t know how many more either of us have left.
    My philosophy has always been Never say never. I never gave up on Love.

    • Debbie says

      Fran – how wonderful that you have had, and still have, love in your life. Thanks for sharing this inspiring post!

      • cissy says

        This is fabulous and I’d love to hear even more about each relationship if you ever feel like writing it. I was drawn in by all of them. I am so glad you have this experience of love.

    • Ilana says

      What a great story, Fran. I am so happy for you. What I found most wonderful, though, was that it seemed to celebrate both of you. Beautifully lived, beautifully written. IM

    • Terry Gibson says

      Fran, I couldn’t tell you how much I savour great love stories! My partner has always been shocked (as I am) that I ever reclaimed my romantic self. Thanks, Fran.

    • Polly says

      Fran, thank you for this lovely portrait! You demonstrate a resilience that is nothing short of inspiring.

  2. Naz says

    I cannot think of a single instance in my life where love eclipsed sorrow. What I can think of, however, is how I see sorrow as being the price I pay for love. I don’t mean romantic love, although I suppose it could be that, too. I feel this way because only when I love someone deeply, do I feel the pain of losing them to death. It’s heart-wrenching pain that time does not heal, although everyone tells me that it will. The only thing that makes it bearable is knowing that it’s caused by my love. If there were no love, there would be no sorrow. But then there would be no love, either, and no life, just an existence. So in a roundabout way, love comes and stands between me and sorrow and helps me to accept, and to go on.

    • Debbie says

      Naz – I want to share with you one of my favorite quotes attributed to a Native American Proverb. Your post made me think of this right away:
      “The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears.”
      Welcome to Writer’s Journey Roadmap! Please come back and share with us again soon!

    • Patti Hall says

      Naz,
      Thanks for giving us this. Yours words started hopeless and ended with acceptance and going on; you can us the whole process.
      Peace,
      Patti

      • cissy says

        Naz, I never thought of loss quite this way and I thank you for that. I feel the sorrow but also the great love, both past and present.

      • Patti Hall says

        Not sure what “you can us” meant? I know you showed us the whole process. Sorry about the mix up.

    • Ilana says

      Naz- There is a lot of wisdom here. It reminds me of a song I loved as a child. The man is singing to his wife about what he wants for her after he is gone. “So if you cry don’t you ever cry in sorrow. Cry with joy that we could feel love that is forever real. Love so many only borrow.” That always spoke to me but it seemed a tall order. Here you honor both the beauty and the pain. Nice job. IM

    • Terry Gibson says

      Naz, I relate to your words so well. I love deeply and it hurts so much. But without it, there would be no poetry. There would be no joy or a lot less. All affect would flatline. Debbie’s quote is so right for this angle on love and sorrow. Welcome, Naz.

    • Polly says

      Naz, I appreciate your take on this: “If there were no love, there would be no sorrow.” To a certain extent I think love does protect us from the worst parts of sorrow – or it can – and it also leaves us vulnerable to sorrow. Thanks for posting this.

  3. Ritch Brinkley says

    Debbie-
    May I throw in a couple of my favorites? I believe it was Kahlil Gibran who said “A piece of wood is just a piece of wood until it’s carved into a bowl.” Another fav: In order to gather the rose, one must first be pricked by its thorns. An old friend often says “We must learn to appreciate the otherness of others.” Fran: Your billet-doux makes me think we’re never going to be an “item”. Oh well, my youthful 69 years would cause wagging tongues to deem you a cougar. With my tongue ensconced in my cheek, Ribald Ritch

  4. Dianne Brown says

    excerpt from my book, “The Cowgirl Princess and Starwalker; My Mother’s Story”

    I can look back over these pages and find the physical truth of my heredity and the grandeur of my spiritual inheritance. I have been supremely and sometimes severely blessed by the powers that be.

    Don’t think for a moment that my life or Lorine’s life or my sister’s lives were blue skies and sunshine every day. That’s not the way it works, as all of you must know by now. The metaphors of the worm to the butterfly, the acorn to the mighty oak, or the muscles experiencing strain and pain to be built into lovely pecs or shoulders to-die-for are all pictures of what it takes to rise above the ashes and soar upward in Phoenix-like splendor.

    Did we all achieve a resurrection of Phoenix-like splendor, a butterfly transformation, or Sports Illustrated swimsuit status? Maybe not for all, but speaking for myself, yes–except for the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Edition.

    However, in Lorine lived a spirit that soared far above the anger and lack of affection and attention from Carl and the long days of sitting at home alone. She knew intimately a secret garden behind the gate of her mind, and there she visited frequently for hours on end. I imagine she most likely was reliving her story that she wanted to tell. I like to think that she added chapters, scenes, and conversation that illustrated her love of romance and adventure, and she colored the whole tale with shades of western skies and Colorado rocky Mountain highs.

    (I wrote my mother’s story for her and I colored in-and-out of the lines she had written in her journals. My only regret is that I didn’t get to see her face when she read her story and knew that hundreds of others had also read her story. I regret that she didn’t get to be at the public library that she loved all her life, to see the huge turn out for the book signing of her story. But of course she was there……for she was the Cowgirl Princess.)

    • Debbie says

      Dianne – thanks so much for sharing this loving look into your life and the introduction to Lorine. I love the title Cowgirl Princess.

    • Patti Hall says

      Your descriptive writing is beautiful. I love your parenthetical note at the bottom. Thank you, Dianne.

    • Ilana says

      Beautiful, Dianne. It makes me want to read more about the “Cowgirl Princess.” What a great title too. :) IM

    • Terry Gibson says

      Dianne, I love that you wrote that book! I’m going to get it and can hardly wait to read it. This story feels to me like you are dropping pearls into my eager hands. It’s just beautiful and I want more! I love your eloquence, how you always leave a bit of an air of mystery, and in so few words, reveal such depths of emotion. Thanks, Dianne.

      • Dianne Brown says

        Thanks Terry, I hope you do, it’s available most anywhere on line. I would love your comments after reading. FYI, I am starting a novel that is a sequel to the epilog in my book–just in embryonic stages.
        Thanks for your encouragement to me!!!

    • Polly says

      Dianne, this is a linguistically (and in every other way) beautiful tribute to your mother. Thanks for posting this. I just might have to look for your book and read this story in its entirety. You left me wanting more of it. Nicely done!

  5. Patti Hall says

    Can Love Eclipse Sorrow?

    Speaking of the phoenix (Dianne), reminds me that I have my own phoenix tale that fits here.

    In 2004 my family/world exploded.
    My daughter told me what the man, who had raised her, my husband of 14 years, had been doing.
    I was the rare mom who embraced her and sent him off to jail.
    The rest is a tale for another time, but I did everything I could to help my kids (and me) stay sane.
    I became a recluse for almost a year.
    Then my daughter and a friend dressed me up and sent me out into the world.
    The first time I went out in public, was to the 35th Annual Independence Valley Pig Roast.
    I re-met and old acquaintance of some 15 years.
    I knew he lost his wife to cancer, that he had a long on-off rocky relationship with a woman I knew.
    The next day I got a call from him.
    He asked me to go with him to Taco Tuesday at the local bar, which I had never been in.
    He hired me to work from his home, selling items on ebay.
    I think we fell in love that first day at his house, while his adult daughter showed me the ropes.
    He was so cute and so careful with me. And funny, man was he funny.
    We were always together after that first day.
    This was platonic for too long, but we were being careful with each other.
    The work day included a 4 o’clock nap. Hmmm.
    Instead of going home, I eventually napped with him—clothes on, miles between us.
    That would lead to…him making me dinner. Dinner led to wine, which led to the hot tub outside.
    It all led to me moving in with him 4 months after we re-met at the pig roast.
    My house was for sale, my divorce almost final, and he needed care after shoulder surgery.
    My two children were in their late teens and piecing their own lives back together.
    They helped me pick a new last name for after the divorce.
    We landed on Phoenix, because my life resembled the myth so closely.
    Everyone was happy, but amazed that I allowed another man into my life.
    I was happy and amazed too.
    So, yes, love can eclipse sorrow. It did that for both of us.
    Today is our 4th wedding anniversary; we married in his hospital bed 2 months before he died of leukemia at home, in our bed.

    • Debbie says

      Patti – I was touched by your story, the bittersweet joy of finding love again after your world shattered, only to lose it again. A tender example of love eclipsing sorrow.

    • Ilana says

      Patti- You held me enthralled from the first word. When I read the part about his death it drew an audible response from me. What a beautiful story. Thank you, thank you so much for sharing it with us. IM

    • Diana says

      I gasped at the ending and had to reread it few times to make sure I read correctly. I was devestated to see this story to full of hope and promise end with his passing. Yet, I am happy that you found love and trust again with him.

    • Terry Gibson says

      Patti, this is such a compelling love story. Opening our hearts again is so hard. I know that one intimately. I too was devastated with his death at the end. I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t help but ask this question. As you grieved, did you have any moments when you regretted those years of marriage? I think I know the answer but don’t like assuming anything. Thanks, Patti. Take care.

      • Patti Hall says

        Terry,
        He left us in 2009 and since then my sis & grandson died, and the loss of my entire family unit in 2004…One grief has blended into the next.
        I still don’t have an answer about the regret of those few years with Paul…sometimes I regret having loved him, sometimes I am thankful for our time. Most of the time I’m pissed at the cruel twists of life…why, finally give me THE person I need & want, the grab him away?
        Long answer, sorry.
        Patti

        • Terry Gibson says

          Patti, I am so sorry for the loss of your family. Mine is gone too. The few alive are too ‘good’ for me. I lost my parents (my Mom abused me so I only miss my real Dad) and three brothers. I have nobody now but have one honorary sister and brother, hopefully, an Aunt Zelda, and who knows how many I’ll have next. :) For myself, I’d get angry about losing the love of my life, but would never regret a single moment when I felt and was cherished and loved and gave the same back. That is me at my best and would be the gold I’d savour in times of extreme loneliness.

    • Polly says

      Wow, Patti, I’m so sorry. First of all, I love that you immediately believed your daughter and took action; you demonstrated the ultimate support. I’m glad to hear that you found love, even though it was taken away too soon. It’s wonderful that you were able to give each other the gift of yourselves. This was deeply moving.

  6. Dianne Brown says

    Oooooo Patti, how beautiful is your Phoenix! I love your way of telling your story. You have mastered “concise” and told a book in a few paragraphs. I would love to hear all that is inbetween the lines! Thanks, Dianne

    • Patti Hall says

      Thank you, ladies. I was on track to write for newspapers years ago and I never forgot that cut and dried way of writing. I love experimenting with different ways of writing. Glad you enjoyed.
      Take care,
      Patti

  7. Ilana says

    Aunt Zelda

    She tightened the sheet at the corner of the cot and lovingly smoothed out the wrinkles. This time she didn’t know the guest who would be sleeping on the spare cot. But she knew plenty about what he’d been through. Zelda had made the miserable trip, herself, just a few years ago. Europe was no longer safe for Jews. The only choice had been to pack up what little they could and board that giant ship with so many other people. She remembered the crowds, the seasickness, the lack of food… all of it. She also remembered the hope. She was sailing to a better life, a life of freedom. It had swelled in her chest and she’d used that joy to deal with all the discomforts of the trip. Each time she got discouraged she’d whisper to herself. “In America I will be me and no one will make me hide. No one will make me afraid.” This was the dream that had brought them here; sustained them through all the hardships. A better life; it was worth the trip for so many people.

    A sad smile came into her heart as she spread an extra blanket over the cot. For her it was not meant to be. For her America had not delivered the protection it promised. Still, she’d made a life for herself and she was helping people. So many people she’d opened her home to. They’d come from all over Europe and stayed in her tiny apartment while they looked for work and got their feet under them. So much joy she had watched. Zelda was happy to live vicariously through them. And they’d all been so kind to her. They pretended not to hear her crying at night. They pretended not to see the bruises and most importantly, they did not ask questions. Everyone knew that there was nothing anyone could do to stop the beatings and privacy was what she’d really wanted; privacy and dignity. Besides, if the guests tried to hold her husband, Igor, responsible for what he was doing to her he would only retaliate, against everyone. She would be punished with another beating and the guest would be thrown out in the street. Everyone would lose. No, it was better this way. She had learned to take her joy in life where she could find it. Nothing gave her more joy than welcoming a new immigrant into her country, into her home. She’d loved these friends who came into her life so briefly. She loved listening to their dreams and sharing in their triumphs. She even loved the bittersweet goodbyes that came when the guest had found work and an apartment of their own.

    So many people and she hoped they would never stop coming. When the cot was made up and the clean towels were set out she surveyed her work. It was a modest living space. The towels were old and had more than one patched hole but they were clean. It would be a warm, safe place where he would spend his first night in America. She wasn’t ashamed. All of her previous guests had acted like they were staying in the lap of luxury. Who cared if the towels were mended? They were in America; the land where dreams come true. And because of her, they were safe and warm and fed.

    With one last look, she determined there was nothing more that needed to be done before the guest arrived. Then, she went into the kitchen to brew some tea and fix a small plate of food. He would be knocking at her door soon, cold, exhausted and hungry. Zelda had always made it a point to welcome her guests with a hot drink, something to eat and a friendly smile. She was happy. It had been almost a week since the last guest had left and she was always so lonely when the little cot stood empty. Igor almost never talked to her. He communicated in grunts and glares. The guests told her stories, made her laugh. They provided her with the human connections she so deeply needed. And their gratitude touched her in a way she couldn’t explain even to herself.

    This was Zelda’s life. True, it wasn’t perfect but it was rich and full. She got to help so many people. She got to love so many people. When she thought about it that way, Igor seemed to lose a lot of his power over her. He could break her finger or blacken her eye but he couldn’t break her spirit. That belonged to her and she chose to share it with her wonderful guests. Their love and her love for them, consistently eclipsed all that sorrow in her life.

    ~This is a fanciful story based on a real woman I know very little about. My mother told me two things about her great Aunt Zelda. She was brutalized by her husband and she opened her home to everyone when they first got here from Europe. It was a tiny thread of a story but it made me love her. I took this information and drew a story for her. I do not know what Aunt Zelda was really thinking, how she truly felt about her life. This was the best I could do and I can’t help but feel that regardless of the accuracy of my story, I have honored a truly amazing woman. She will never be forgotten. Whether she meant to or not, Aunt Zelda inspired a great-grand niece, born long after her death, who she never even knew existed.

    • Debbie says

      Ilana – I absolutely agree that you have honored your great Aunt Zelda. Had you not revealed that this was a “fanciful” story – I would have never guessed. You painted a very tender and realistic picture of someone who is clearly dear to you.

    • Patti Hall says

      If I had to guess, I think you gave voice to a woman who probably didn’t have one. She speaks through you to us. What she was doing was building a family, a community, and by passing her story to us, that is what you are doing. Wonderful writing.
      Thank you,
      Patti

      • Ilana says

        Thanks Patti, I hadn’t thought this piece would affect me so much when I decided to write it. As I said, I’ve been carrying Aunt Zelda around with me for 30 years but never realized how important she was to me. It makes me feel good that I could give her a voice after all these years. It was something I hadn’t thought about until I read your comment. Now I am so glad I wrote this piece and posted it here. Thank you! Ilana

    • Diana says

      Ilana,
      I was captivated by this story. Aunt Zelda embodied so many women of a different era. We owe our strength and freedome to what they endured and how ther persevered.
      I was stunned to read that you have only a thread of “truth”. You filled in the rest in an authentic and believable way. Maybe it is Aunt Zelda channeling through you to tell her story. I could see this story as a novel.

      • Ilana says

        Thank you Debbie and Dianna, I was so encouraged to read you were surprised to read it was a fanciful story. I have never tried this before and was a little nervous. I feel that I have held Aunt Zelda in my heart for 30 years but never realized how much I had wanted to honor her. You have helped me do so by reading this piece. Diana, I really like what you said about her perhaps channeling through me. I love that she may have gotten to speak to us all these years later. I am honored that she would have chosen me and it means so much that I was finally able to give her a voice. Thank you both. Ilana

    • Terry Gibson says

      Ilana, I love Aunt Zelda! What an amazing woman she was and is by your having told us about her. I, for one, will not forget her. Even with her dreams gone, she chose to be the first truly loving and compassionate face for those newcomers to America. I admire and respect her–as I do all Jewish people who left the insanity of a place where they were all being tortured and murdered to find a safer one overseas. I despise that anti- semitism still exists but the more I learn–away from how I was raised–I have nothing but the deepest respect and empathy for everyone. I say that from the bottom of my heart. Thanks for gifting us with Aunt Zelda, Ilana. She will stay with me. As I am trying to people a wholefamily to fight my loneliness, could she be my honorary aunt? Take care, okay.

      • Ilana says

        Oh, Terry. You have given so much to so many. I could never deny you the honorary relationship to someone important to me. I know so little about Aunt Zelda that what generation and how she is related to my mother is even a mystery to me. (as I am not speaking to my mother I cannot ask) She never know me or that I even existed.

        I feel that you have all given me so much more of her in helping me celebrate her life here. I am sure that if she could ever know us she would joyfully welcome both of us into her heart. And by the way, I used her real name. We are honoring a real person. Thank you Terry, for all you have given and continue to give to me and this community. Fondly, Ilana, your grateful sister.

    • Polly says

      Ilana, as always, you’ve inspired me. It sounds like your Aunt Zelda was a strong, incredible, and compassionate woman. I love the way you created such a rich story around a single moment, while still enabling us to read about her life leading up to that point. This was beautiful. You honoured her so well.

    • Dianne Brown says

      Ilana, sometimes, I believe, their voices come to us in a tender part of ourselves that begs to tell their story. Whether your words were exactly Zelda’s words really doesn’t matter, the gist, the heart, the soul, the love is there and has lit up a spot that Zelda once occupied here on earth. You have brought Zelda to life here for us–thank you for that. I too, love Zelda . . . here or there you can’t get too much love!

  8. Diana says

    I look up from my charting. The man stands at the bedside of the boy. Tubes, lines and cables thread to monitors, pumps and a ventilator. I record the data of life delivery. The boy is unrecognizable, covered in bandages and gauze. He is not a boy, but a young man. The man reaches over the bed rail and rhythmically pats the boy’s solar plexus. I imagine he has done this a hundred times for the boy. He did it when the boy was a colicky infant. He did it when the boy awakened from a fitful sleep, plagued by nightmares. He did it when the boy groaned with a bellyache from too many Boardwalk treats. “Sh, sh, sh.”, says the man. Sorrow steps from behind the curtain and rest his arm around the man’s shoulders.

    The woman stares down at her husband’s face and smooths his hair. I spike a bag of IV fluid and ask, “Have you eaten today?”
    “No. I don’t know. I can’t remember.” she says, staring deeply into her husband’s face. He does not respond. He cannot respond. “You need to eat. You have to keep yourself strong. We are in this for the long haul. He is going to need you more when he wakes up. Go eat. I will take good care of him.” The woman leaves. Sorrow follows close behind. I sit in the night stillness with the man. I tell him she will be back and that I am here. He is not alone. The wife returns. She settles onto the sleeping cot near the husband’s bed. As she pulls the thin rough hospital blanket around her chin, Sorrow settles at the foot of the cot and reclines against the wall.

    “Can I hold her?” says the father. “Of course.” I say. I position the father in a rocking chair, padding the wooden arms with pillows. “Sit here and I will bring her to you.” I unhook the baby from the feeding pump and disconnect the IV line. I gently place by hands at her back, avoiding the bandaged wounds. As I lift her out of the crib the baby whimpers. “I’m going to let Papa hold you.” I place her in the father’s arms; reposition the pillows and the baby settles against the father’s chest. The baby falls into a dreamless sleep; the father closes his eyes and rocks the chair. Sorrow leans forward, breathing across the father’s cheek and gazes into the baby’s face.

    I watch the woman’s heart rate and blood pressure drop. These are ominous signs. Trying to conceal my panic, I shout out to the charge nurse, “Call the doctor, please!” “Shall I call her brother?” ask the man. I give a solemn nod. As I wait for the doctor, I lean over to the woman and say, “Don’t let go. You can’t go now. I need you to give me all you’ve got right now.” Sorrow stands in the corner looking on and leans over to whisper in the ear of Death.

    I pull into my driveway. I notice a “Missed Call” from my dad on my cell. While still in the car, I push “Call”. Dad answers.
    “Di ana? he says in his Arkansas country drawl. He elongates the vowels making my name sound like two names. Take away the college education and he would sound pure hillbilly. “Hi, Dad.”, and out of the corner of my eye I catch movement. Sorrow is leaning forward from the backseat and listening. “I got in to see the neurologist. I have early stage Alzheimer’s”. My breath leaves me. Sorrow reaches over the seat the rest his hand on my shoulder.

    It seems Sorrow has followed me home. I saw him this evening sitting on my front porch. He was warming himself in the evening son, eating sunflower seeds and spitting out the shells. I did not invite him in.

    • Debbie says

      Diana – this is a tremendously powerful and moving piece. You skillfully blended so many poignant stories together. And I love the last line “I did not invite him in”. Very well done!

    • Ilana says

      Diana- This is truly a work of art. So beautiful and bittersweet. I say sweet because of the kindness that people show each other. My heart goes out to you. I loved the way you personified sorrow and showed him touching people. Oddly, I did not hate him, as a character. I can’t describe how your piece touched me. So well written. Thank you. IM

      • Diana says

        Ilana, oh thank you for calling this a work of art. I think I need to let that soak into me for today. I have been struggling so much with my writing lately.

    • Dianne Brown says

      Bravo!!! That was excellent! I like this viewpoint and add it to “Death Takes a Holiday” and “The Book Thief”…..both are observations of the process….your observations were so touching to me–so real–right up there with the best. This needs to be published!

      Great writing!

    • Jess says

      Diana~ That was beautiful! I loved your use of personification to truly describe sorrow. The story was very touching, and I just loved how you wrote the last paragraph.

    • Terry Gibson says

      This is fantastic, Dianne. I am so happy to be here unsleeping (as usual) to read this. It rocks it right out of the park for me! I will be back to read it many times. Good one.

    • Polly says

      Diana, I absolutely love the way you personified Sorrow throughout this piece. It gave me chills. This was beautifully done. I can’t say enough – I just – wow. Thank you.

  9. Patti Hall says

    Diana,
    I have chills all over my body. I will never forget this story. You need to publish this if you haven’t already. I love love love the way you humanize sorrow. Your writing inspires me. I can see every nuance of these moments in these lives…
    Thank you,
    Patti

    • Diana says

      Oh Patti. Thank you for the wonderful words. No I have not published it. I have not published anything. I am overwhelmed with the compliment that I should consider having it published.

      • Patti Hall says

        Diana,
        If you are not going to write your own book, a nurse’s anthology is prob out there waiting for you to submit…or you could put together one yourself.
        Keep writing!
        Patti

  10. Jess says

    She kept walking, she always did. She wouldn’t stop, and she wouldn’t let anyone else stop her. She smiled and said hello to all she passed. Her friends asked for her advice before anyone elses, and they came to her when they needed anything.
    She told them how to fix things, how to feel better about themselves, and how to get along with the ones who hurt them the most. She even held her friend when she was crying after she realized what she had done.
    She took on the burdens of their problems, their heart breaks and their pain. Without a word, as though it was her burden to bear, even though not a single one of them saw that she was broken too.
    She saw so many people suffering and had been to more funerals than young woman can handel. She mourned for the dead and cried for the living. Her heart called out for the one who didn’t love her. And she spent countless nights lying awke with tears rolling down her cheeks. But no matter what she got up every morning with her heart pinned neatly on her sleeve. She still smiled and loved everyone just the same.
    Even as stones were thrown and everything got in her way, she never stoped. She still cared far to much. She loved him openly with all her heart. She was everyones shoulder to cry on, even when there were already tears in her eyes. And so she walked with her head held high and continued on her way, as though it was all okay. When someone finally asked she said that though her heart was broken, and battered, it was still beating, and it wroked all the same.

    • Debbie says

      Jess – Your story resonated within me on so many levels. I wondered if you had somehow secretly sneaked a peek at some of journaling. I continue on the journey of learning to put own needs at least on par with everyone else – and to gently coach my heart to accept love. Thank you for sharing this glimpse into the private world of “her”.

    • Ilana says

      Jess- Beautifully written. Though we never got to learn anything about “her” we still, somehow, got to know her intimately. Well done. IM

    • Polly says

      Jess, I was moved while reading this piece. It resonated with me as well. Thank you for sharing it with all of us.

  11. Deb Mansell says

    I am in a place at present where it is difficult to see any love. I have so much pain and anger inside of me that it’s hard to feel anything else….

    But I know my husband and my children love me and I know that I have friends who love me and stand by me and listen to me rant and rage, I guess I will just have to hold onto that and weather the storm.

    • Terry Gibson says

      I am glad you’re staying with what you feel at this moment, Deb. That you’re not punishing or pushing yourself too far too fast. Hang in there and thanks.

      • Deb Mansell says

        Why do you thank me?

        I’ve done nothing, offered nothing, don’t feel able to comment or hardly read any one else s work…..

        • Terry Gibson says

          It’s okay, Deb. I am thanking you for sharing yourself with us and me. But you have commented. I have had several from you. Please don’t worry.

        • Debbie says

          I agree with Ilana – because you are part of this community and you continue to show the courage, stamina and heart to write and share. All of that deserves recognition.

      • Ilana says

        Deb- My heart goes out to you. I have been there, myself, so many times. (Right now I am struggling with a deep rage against my family.) Where you are is a very lonely place to be. Please feel the rest of us sending you wishes of hope and peace. I second Terry’s thoughts. If you remain true to yourself and experience your feelings you will find your way out. As my dear friend and sister survivor says, to comfort me when I am struggling, “KOKO, Keep On Keepin’ On”. Ilana

    • Hazel says

      But you will feel better; depression and anger don’t last forever if you don’t let it.
      In my experience, that is. I have hit the bottom several times and know what that feels like. Here is a story from one of those times, it is from one of my books (Three Stories by Hazel S. Muller):

      Once Upon a Soul

      Once upon a time there was an old lady. Not a real old lady, just kind of medium old lady. She lived in a travel trailer with her somewhat younger husband a twelve-year-old parrot and an ancient little dog.
      Now, the parrot knew who he was – the tyrant who lived in a cage that sat on top of the refrigerator. From this vantage point he would supervise the cooking and make comments about various activities. Some of the comments were so accurate that the old lady began to think the parrot could actually reason. Like when she spilled something he would say, “It doesn’t matter.” Or when she felt the most ugly he would say, “Hello pretty bird.” Click his tongue and wolf whistle like a flirtatious young man might have done years ago when she really was a pretty bird. He always said “Goodnight” when the lights were turned out whether she sad good night to him or not. When she talked on the phone he would always talk louder than she and confuse people on the other end of the line. Sometimes she would have to take the phone outside in order to hear. He was very demanding when he wanted some food she was cooking and would yell, “Come on! Come on!” She talked to him all day long gave him goodies; cleaned his cage and played his favorite jazz station on the radio but every chance he had he would bite her. She often felt very angfy and hurt because he did not want to be nice in return – love me from afar on my terms or not at all – was his attitude and he had the mouth to enforce it. Imagine this little pile of green feathers with an attitude like that!
      The ancient little dog was a sad sight now. He was totally blind and nearly deaf. He slept most of the time but occasionally while bumping his way around the small space of the trailer; he would stumble across his ball. He would take it in his mouth and toss it in the air. It would bounce and roll a few inches from him. He would sniff all around until he located it then pounce on it; lie down and roll on it a few times then stretch out on his side and go back to sleep.
      He would take chunks of his dried food out of his bowl; carry them off to munch somewhere else’ put them down and then forget where he put them.
      Seventeen was not a very good age for a Yorkshire terrier but he still barked enthusiastically when the old lady returned from shopping. His tail still wagged when he smelled the food she was cooking for dinner and he still located her when she sat to watch T.V. and would lay down beside her feet with his head on one foot, would go to sleep until she moved. Even now she could feel the warmth and trust he had always shown her. No conditions – I’m here, I love you. You love me.
      The husband knew what he was doing. He had a plan and was actively pursuing it. He got discouraged sometimes, angry with himself and frustrated with his situation and lack of money. His mind was focused on his education, so much so, that he didn’t really hear what the old lady said to him. “Why didn’t you tell me this or that?” he would ask and she would say, “I did tell you several times.” It happened so much she began to feel like a ghost. She wondered if she was really there, like the people in movies who die but don’t know they’re dead. They talk and no one responds.
      The old lady had a problem. She loved the parrot that bit her in return. She loved the dog that gave and took all the love she wanted to exchange. She loved the husband who loved her but didn’t hear her. But, she didn’t know who she was anymore; what her role was, or what she should be doing? The last sixteen years she had done things to look busy and involved because she thought that was what she was supposed to do. She couldn’t have anyone think she was lazy or unoccupied or less than. Why did she think she was what she did? Now that she did nothing was she nothing? What was her status besides “crippled wife?” Why was status important to her? If you put a name on something it gives it meaning. She wanted her life to have meaning. She searched for a way to give meaning and a reason for being to her life. She had gained much knowledge and even more experience but for what purpose? It should be shared but how and why should she do that?
      The old lady argued with herself day after day. Sometimes she laughed; sometimes she cried; sometimes she laughed and cried at the same time. Sometimes she felt like dying; sometimes she felt like flying. Was she crazy? Was she lazy? Was she sane? Where was her brain? Maybe her body had some answers – during the day it was moderate but at night it became an inferno so hot that sometimes she felt she would spontaneously combust. The heat would awaken her. Where did it come from? What fueled it? Could it be inside her heart? Would there be a great eruption like Mt. St. Helen? Would she fly apart and scatter herself all around the earth or would she just melt down into a puddle of fluid stuff and ooze into the earth? Did it matter? What’s one person more or less on this planet? She knew that even if an experience was shared in time and place each person’s perception of that experience was uniquely their own.
      How could she share her soul and make herself understood to anyone whom she just talked to? And, where was her soul anyway? It had withdrawn into a well and covered itself with layer over layer of hard protective scales. She needed it! There must be a way to break through the encrusted shell that shell that encapsulated it. Soul buried so deep it had gone to sleep thinking the old lady had abandoned it forever.

      Then, one day a child slipped down the rotten old rope that hung in the dried up well where the soul slept in its capsule on the sludge at the bottom. The child was much lighter than the old lady who would surely have crashed had she tried to go down the rotten rope.
      The child dared not take any tools with her. They would be just too heavy. As her feet touched the bottom her grip on the rotten rope loosened. With her arms outstretched she moved about in the dark searching for the capsule she had been told was there. Nearly falling over a twisted root that grew through the side of the well wall she reached out to steady herself. Something wet and slimy slithered away in silence. She shivered. Perhaps she should not have come! She looked up at the distant light at the top and knew she could not climb back up that far. Drawing in a long breath of stale air she again reached out. Her hand touched a rough surface that felt like large scales. She ran her other hand out over the surface and it felt curved like a huge scaly ball. This must be it – the capsule.
      With both hands she worked her tiny fingers under a scale pulling hard. It began to loosen then with a crackling sound it came loose and fell into the sludge on the floor. Slowly she felt for the next scale and began to pry. One by one she removed them from the top. Again she ran her hand over the area she had peeled. There was another layer but they were smoother and not stuck quite so tight. She wanted to see what was in the capsule but her fingers became sore and tired. She would just have to rest. Climbing on top she laid on her stomach across it. Her head, arms and legs hanging down, she went to sleep.
      When she awakened she slid off the capsule and as her hands slipped across the scales on the top they felt soft and warm. Now, they peeled off easily. She worked quickly. At last there was a glow where the scales joined. She watched and saw that it was pulsing and getting brighter. One hard tug on the next scale and a beam of light shone like a flashlight. The child smiled and sighed. She could really do it! She could free the soul! Scrambling to the top of the capsule she reached down and pulled hard on the next scale. As it came loose she felt herself being lifted on a pillow of light slowly at first, then faster as the light grew brighter. The child slid off the pillow, the light spewed out of the well and flowed all through the old ladies brain until it lit up her eyes and settled on her old face as a smile.
      Now the old lady looks at the world with the eyes of a child, with wonder and excitement. She creates without judgment for the sheer joy of it. She babbles to herself; laughs at her own stories. The parrot babbles back and the dog wags his tail. No one listens to a child at play. They just know the child is happy, contented and loved. The child in the old lady knows it is happy, contented and loved.
      ********

      • Debbie says

        Hazel – I so thoroughly enjoyed this story! I loved the metaphors and your vivid descriptions of the bottom of the well. And these lines were especially powerful to me:
        ” It happened so much she began to feel like a ghost. She wondered if she was really there, like the people in movies who die but don’t know they’re dead. They talk and no one responds.”
        Thanks so much for sharing this!

      • Polly says

        Hazel, this piece was incredible. I fell in love with each character. I love the vivid narrative and the imagery. You left me in awe. Thank you.

    • Polly says

      Deb, hold on to the love that you know is there. Hopefully you can internalize that love and feel it for yourself over time. Thanks for sharing.

    • Deb Mansell says

      Thank you all for welcoming me, holding me, and letting me just be me and feel what I have numbed out for so long.

      I have learnt some things this week that have shaken me, but I am still here. Its hard but I am still here.

  12. Polly says

    I initially wrote a piece that was quite a bit longer than this, but I felt that it contained information about my mother that was too specific. It didn’t seem fair. I condensed it and will leave you with these brief thoughts. Thank you.

    My mother has always been my rock and my inspiration. She is the one I strive to emulate. My mom has never given up her faith in me despite my precarious beginnings, despite the times I behaved in ways that were hurtful toward her. She never gave up on me. She is my hero.

    My mom endured her own alcoholic parents and the loss of her brother at a young age to a drinking and driving accident. She endured a violently tempered and unfaithful husband for almost 30 years. He ultimately left her for one of his students, and only took the time to hand her a note before walking out of our house for good. She continued to be there for all of us then, and continues to do so now.

    My mom gave everything to raise her own seven kids and her granddaughter. She gave everything to teach other people’s children for many years. Her career was an act of love for her.

    She has had many happy times as well, of course. She found love again with a man who lives just blocks from her house. She is independent and doesn’t feel the need to remarry, but they walk to each other’s houses and watch the news together each night, they go out dancing, they travel together. They give each other love and happiness. This man is good to her, and I am so grateful for that.

    My mom is 70, but an active 70. She exercises, works, volunteers, reads voraciously, and has a more active social life than I do. She is “up” on technology in a way that many people of her generation are not. She is quite possibly the smartest person I know. She has her natural dark brown hair still, and very few wrinkles. I look forward to seeing her live well past the age of 100. She had better. Seriously, she has to.

    Now I feel that my mom and I are perhaps closer than ever before. I visit her and I see such joy in her face. She will reach out and touch my hair if I happen to be sitting near her. I’m in my 30’s yet she calls me Little One, sometimes. I want this to last.

    I have spent close to a year working on healing from the sexual abuse I endured at the hands of my oldest brother throughout my childhood. My mom has no idea. My family has no idea, as far as I know. I have yet to confront my brother, my attacker. Part of me wants to open up to her so badly, but I am terrified that I will break her heart. I’m also terrified that I might lose my relationship with her. I can handle almost every other consequence that I can imagine, except for those two things.

    Regardless of the outcome of my disclosure – should I choose to tell her – I adore her. I will always be grateful for the love and guidance that she provides. Nothing is absolute, nothing is certain, but right now, I have this to keep me going.

    • Hazel says

      You have shown that your mother was able to find love out of sorrow. “She found love again with a man who lives just blocks from her house. She is independent and doesn’t feel the need to remarry, but they walk to each other’s houses and watch the news together each night, they go out dancing, they travel together. They give each other love and happiness. This man is good to her, and I am so grateful for that.” That answered the premiss in the prompt, and did so beautifully.

      What you are asking goes far beyond that and you have to answer your own questions: “Part of me wants to open up to her so badly, but I am terrified that I will break her heart. I’m also terrified that I might lose my relationship with her.” The risk is high, and only you can choose.

      • Polly says

        Thanks Hazel. That’s really nice. I tried to answer the premise throughout the piece. She has been able to love her kids through any sorrow that comes up – she has kept on giving to us. And she found love with another person and I’m happy for her in that respect.

        In terms of the other part, of course only I can answer it. I wouldn’t leave this type of decision up to this community no matter how much I respect all of you :) I wasn’t really asking; it was more a matter of ‘getting it off my chest’ for a moment.

        Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    • Debbie says

      Polly – You showed us how love can eclispe sorrow in the happiness that your mother has found later in life. Thanks for this encouragement.

    • Ilana says

      How beautiful, Polly. As someone who has come to admire and care about you, through this blog, I am happy to hear that you have something so wonderful in your life. Also, that you have the strength and wisdom to see it, to value it. Thank you for sharing this with us. IM

  13. Bobbie Anne says

    Yes, love can eclipse sorrow. I know it firsthand. I am a writer. I am a poet. With my poetry I show that love can eclipse sorrow. And I show, unfortunately for some, that sorrow can eclipse love. For me, it is a choice. And I choose, as a cancer survivor and as a sexually and physically abused survivor to believe that love can eclipse sorrow. It has for me. That is why I am still here. Still loving. Still able to be.

    • Debbie says

      Bobbie Anne – Thanks for coming back to post on this older prompt. Very affirming comments – I am glad for your choices and that you share them with this community.

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