Home is Where the Heart Is
It is. The widow is struck homeless. The house- painting my own walls, the American dream- none of it matters. The home you have lived in suddenly looks unfamiliar. Oates says that’s because it is drained of meaning like colors faded by the sun. The security, comfort, familial quality of a home- vanishes. It is all just stuff- materials- rug fibers, plaster walls, popcorn ceilings. The materialness of it all overwhelmed my senses in the early days.
You Don’t Know What You’ve Got ‘Til It’s Gone
You don’t. And you won’t, even if you give it your best effort as it is the trend in self-help these days to write gratitude lists and live in the present and slow down and enjoy the simple things. I believe this is a major, vital thread of the bittersweet root of being a human being. You don’t, and you can not. In parenting you get just a short while to savor each stage before your child transforms, ever so subtly each day, until the one you’d loved seems gone completely. You look intently at their face for the eyes of your baby that smiled at you. Are they still there? Did you miss it? Were you not appreciate enough because you were so tired or so nervous. And then while you are thinking that thought, you have missed the next stage for they are already someone else.
With a spouse, it isn’t the rapid development as in a child, but it is the closeness- the intimacy that sometimes makes it harder to see and value the way one ought. Here is yet another of the paradoxes of life and loss.
Another great line I’ll borrow from JCO:
“and though I am sure that Susan understands how her energy, her confidence, her good humor and her zest for work are inextricably bound up with her husband and her marriage, I think that she can’t quite realize the degree to which this is so. And it is good for Susan, and for other non-widow-women friends, that they can’t know.
Love Never Dies
It doesn’t. But the relationship does, I soberly realize. It cannot continue over this great of a divide. You go on loving- but you are loving the memory of a human being- it does not have the beautiful back and forth growth of a living relationship, like soil and green veins. This love is fixed, like granite.