Within the last couple weeks, my Beloved and I have learned about friends (long married) who have divorced. Each time news of this sort reaches us, we tend to react as we would to a death. It’s painful and wrenching … and we’re not even the ones who are experiencing it firsthand! But make no mistake, like ripples on a pond, the effect is still profound.
Long ago, I learned one never knows what goes on in relationships. People who appear to have splendid relationships when they’re in public may be fighting like the proverbial cats and dogs when they’re behind closed doors. Who would know, unless they accidentally broke cover at one social situation or another?
When you love both people, once a confirmed married couple, it’s hard to know how to react. Of course, you wish them well … you hope they find a measure of solace in the midst of difficulties … you grieve for their children. (I mentioned some of this in yesterday’s post.) And truthfully, you wouldn’t really want to know the sordid details, whether their conflicts built up over decades or only in recent months, what made them decide to call it quits. It’s awkward though, the next in-person meeting … is communicating your sympathy appropriate? Or maybe you just avoid possible meetings simply because you don’t know what to say or how to act?
When my Beloved and I were younger, we made a hospital visit to a friend who had just had his leg amputated. He had some kind of cancer and eventually died from it. As we were preparing to see him, my Beloved and I talked about what we expected to be an awkward and uncomfortable situation. I mean, what do you say to a man who’s just lost a limb? How’s your day going?
My Beloved and I agreed we would talk about other things … his kids, his job, what books he was reading, etc. We’d make every effort to keep our eyes focused upward, so as to avoid our natural curiosity about the missing leg. As it turned out, all our planning was for naught. When we entered the room, our friend greeted us and then immediately threw back the bed-covers. He was wearing shorts and the stump was bandaged but visible to us. His approach was completely disarming (pardon the phrase) but a welcome realization for us that his loss of leg didn’t change who he was inside. He was every bit the friend we’d known before the amputation.
Today’s sonnet deals with the concept of heart hunger. We often have a tendency to look at our lives and think we’d be happier if only … The if only may vary from individual to individual but the heart hunger is a pretty common characteristic for all of us as frail humans.
Except for the common yearnings that lie deep within almost every human heart, the poem should not be construed to be commentary on the friends to whom I referred in my opening paragraph. The poem only presents a sense for what might be happening when heart hunger takes hold.