an intense attack of sorrow

getting set up. Paper taped on the hardwood floors, cardboard wedged in corners and under windows, and lots of plastic still to be draped over doors and windows. UGH.

Yesterday we spent the entire day painting the downstairs, and it was not at all fun. Zero fun. Poor Marc had spent the day before painting the ceiling, after taping and covering everything; we have pine trim around the doors and windows and we didn’t want to paint it, so not only did we have to tape around it, we then needed to drape plastic over all the window frames so paint wouldn’t drip on them. UGH. Not fun. And he did all the harder work, including doing all the ceilings by himself — all I was doing was rolling paint on the walls! Not one bit of fun. Not even a tiny moment, never. I felt nauseated and I just kept wanting to stop, but of course there was nothing to do but to keep painting. (I’m spending today painting the second coat. All by myself. Boo. Also, boring.)

We had music playing in the background, one of my various playlists (one that was short on disco, since Marc, a teenager in the 1960s, hates it) — that was somehow heavily slanted toward Van Morrison. I don’t even know much of his music, beyond Brown-Eyed Girl (I mean, who doesn’t know that song, right?) and one album called Back On Top. That album was released in March 1999, and that was a very hard time for me. The album has a melancholy tone, lots of songs about sorrow and loss, and it just slipped right into my groove, then. I think (and knowing me, this is right) I listened to it over and over and over. Probably nothing but this (again, knowing me).

So there we were, painting, and there I was, feeling blech, wishing the painting were over, but nothing more than that. If I had to label the general tone of my feelings it’d be irritated or something like that, but definitely not sorrowful. As the eclipse approached its fullest here in the Catskills, and the sky darkened a bit, this Van Morrison song came on: Everything I Do Reminds Me of You (not an exciting video, but you can hear the song).

I don’t know why but I became completely overwhelmed and had to lean over and just sob. Ugly crying, face uncontrollably contorted, no sound because the sobs were just too intense.

I miss you so much, I can’t stand it
Seems like my heart, is breaking in two
My head says no but my soul demands it
Everything I do, reminds me of you

I miss you so much, in this house full of shadows
While the rain keeps pouring down, my window too
When will the pain, recede to the darkness
From whence it has come, and I’m feeling so blue

Ain’t goin’ down, no more to the well
Sometimes it feels like, I’m going to hell
Sometimes I’m knocking, on your front door
But I don’t have nothing, to sell no more

I don’t even know who I was crying for/about. At times it felt like I was crying about Jerry, my first husband, the father of my three kids; ever since he apologized to me (such a rare event in my life that someone apologizes) I’ve felt tender towards him again, and he’s in poor health, and I just cried and wished with all my heart that we could be real friends again while there is time. And at times it felt like I was crying about Marc, who has a tendency to say things like, “Honey, after I’m dead maybe you’ll think about me when you walk on the stone path.” A few days ago I found myself feeling how impossible it would feel to go on without him if/when that time comes, how embedded he is in every single thing. I also feel so many other things as well, but those things are true, too.

And at times I felt like I was just sobbing about everyone lost, about all the suffering, about all the sorrow. It was completely overwhelming. Even though the playlist was on shuffle, it played three Van Morrison songs in a row and I just bawled through all three of them. Even writing this post has made me bawl.

Because, you know, loss and life, synonymous in that terrible way.

I have no doubt it was just a convergence of accidental coincidence, the darkened sky from the eclipse and that song coming on and in a time I’ve been thinking about so many things, including Jerry and Marc, but wow it was powerful. I was completely caught off guard by it, and hid myself because I couldn’t possibly have explained it to Marc. I can’t even really explain it to myself.

I’m glad I get swamped by things like that. I get swamped by joy, I get swamped by delight, I get swamped by wistfulness (my favorite feeling), I get swamped by sorrow. Lucky, lucky, lucky me — even when it’s sorrow. I’m very grateful for my complex inner life.

The forecast today: swamped by paint and irritation. Probability: 100%. 🙂

10 thoughts on “an intense attack of sorrow”

  1. This is beautiful and profound. Just my two cents’ worth, but perhaps the painting worked a bit like meditation — or some sort of meditative exercise. The work is repetitive and physically tiring, you’re focusing on something you’d rather not be doing, so your thoughts go off on their own. The work, the darkness, the music all combined to make your mind work in that wandering way our minds often have a way of working. You were struck at the gut level. If I were with you today, we’d be playing that disco, baby!!! You know it. Hope this day brings you some joy, even if you’re painting. XXXOOO.

    1. Certainly could be! Marc and I weren’t really talking, we were both focused on our own tasks, so I was lost in my own thoughts, which ramble on the best of days. Today’s painting will absolutely be accompanied by disco, and I grin as I imagine you here with me. We would make as much fun of it as possible. xoxoxox

  2. I stopped to listen to the song when I came to it in your post and I went to some of those same places. It conjures up loss and the fear of loss for sure. Maybe we need to visit there, painful though it is. I tend to love music like this too. Tom Waits does it to me as well: Martha. Dancing Matilde. The room looks beautiful.

    1. Oh yes, I was thinking about Tom Waits, too — it’s a different tone, and it puts me in a different melancholy place, but how I love Come On Up to the House. He is so good at getting to those places of really deep feeling. Today is the four-year anniversary of the last time I saw my son, so I will probably listen to the song he played for me that day, and I might play these Tom Waits songs you mentioned, and Van. And then, when this well is drained a little bit, I will move on. Maybe I will let Come On Up to the House be my transition to a different feeling. I’m not surprised that the songs echo for you too; they are soulful, like you.

  3. Good grief, Lori! Maybe it’s not the same thing, but I get similar episodes as well, and kind of welcome them. So much of grieving is about good things lost or good things we anticipate losing–not sure how else we can connect or reconnect to those things. Sort of hurts so good. — Karl

  4. Wow – incredibly moving! Instead of fighting my sorrow when I feel it creeping in, I am going to try to get swamped by it. It’s another feeling I should allow instead of burying my head & heart in the sand. Thank you friend for showing me, yet again, about life’s natural ways and that good can be found in even sadness.

    1. OH YES — so much good is found in sadness. If it’s dangerous for you (it can be for me, if I’m teetering on the precipice of a depression) you might have to be careful, but in my own experience I’ve found such value in feeling the sorrow. For one thing, hiding it away doesn’t make it actually go away — the sorrowful thing is still there. And for another, it’s real, it’s true, it’s connected to something that matters to you or it wouldn’t hurt. I don’t exactly think of it as honoring the loss, but in a way it kind of is. So I feel all the pain of my son’s absence, for example, because I miss him. It hurts. I love him. It hurts. It should hurt. And it does. I’ve also learned that if I go ahead and just feel it, it passes sooner, in some way. Anyway. much love to you, dear Gracie. xoxoxoxo

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