It suddenly dawned on me I have been studying heartbreak for my whole life! I thought I was studying Love but it seems I have devoted much of my attention to the misery of unrequited love!
First, when I was three, Mom was reading Bambi to my sister, and she read the part when Bambi and her mother were in the forest and the worst possible thing happened.
The hunters shot Bambi’s mommy! Bambi was still a “little girl” and she needed her mother! My heart was broken.
In addition to books that led me to feel grief, I also had movie experiences that brought the awareness of deep sadness. The book and movie Old Yeller come to mind. It is a story about a boy becoming a man and his love for his best friend and faithful brave pet. Gone With the Wind also comes to mind. This story in contrast to Old Yeller is about a strong, opinionated woman who kept pushing love away while she was attempting to manipulate people to get things her way.
When I was twelve, my dad’s brother and his wife, a childless couple, lived in a lovely home three houses down and across the street from ours. My uncle was our local dentist. His office was on the other side of the alley from our home. While Uncle Lorne was at work one afternoon, Aunt Isabelle slipped and fell down a steep flight of stairs in their home. She was dead by the time he got home. She had been a jolly, kind and loving woman to me and we all missed her.
But my uncle’s grief was something I had never experienced before and we children got to see a lot of it.
My mom invited him to have meals with us and it was the first time I had seen a real grown man grieving the loss of a loved one. We would be having a meal together and he would choke up during the conversation and start crying. I imagined that everything would remind him of her.
That was close to the beginning of my interest in playing popular music. I found the song “I’ll Be Seeing You,” in one of our Reader’s Digest songbooks. The lyrics seemed to soothe my heart:
“I’ll be seeing you
In every lovely summer’s day
In everything that’s light and gay
I’ll always think of you that way
I’ll find you in the morning sun
And when the night is new
I’ll be looking at the moon
But I’ll be seeing you”
During my teenage years, there were plenty of songs that I could use, including Skeeter Davis, “Gonna Get Along Without You Now.” This song included the shallow but helpful lyrics, “Gonna find somebody that’s twice as cute, ’cause I didn’t love you anyhow.”
The number one song for heartbreak for me is the Bee Gees, “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?”
“I was never told about the sorrow…
How can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?What makes the world go round?How can you mend this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heartAnd let me live again”
My dad wrote me a tender letter, in which he acknowledged my emotional pain and quoted Alfred Lord Tennyson:
‘Tis better to have loved and lostThan never to have loved at all. “
“I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really…don’t know love at all.”
Out beyond the field of wrong-doing and right-doing there is a field.I will meet you there.When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.Ideas, language, even phrase ‘each other’Doesn’t make sense anymore.”