Friday, January 25, 2013

Saudade

Saudade (1899),
by Almeida Júnior.
Over on Facebook I learned something new last night.

You see, lately I've had this nearly indescribable feeling that "something is missing". At first I thought it was just a touch of post-holiday depression. But it's more than that, much more.

Then on Facebook, I saw a post from a friend, regarding an "Instagram" from the daughter of another friend. That friend was the late Carroll "Lex" LeFon. His daughter had posted a picture of her with her Dad when she was much younger. She also explained the Portuguese concept (for it is more than just a word) of saudade. As the first anniversary of Lex's passing approaches, I can only imagine what his family must be feeling. Especially how is youngest child is dealing with it.

From Wikipedia:

Saudade is a Portuguese word that has no direct translation in English. It describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing will never return. A stronger form of saudade may be felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown, such as a lost lover, or a family member who has gone missing.
Saudade was once described as "the love that remains" after someone is gone. Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again. It can be described as an emptiness, like someone (e.g., one's children, parents, sibling, grandparents, friends, pets) or something (e.g., places, things one used to do in childhood, or other activities performed in the past) should be there in a particular moment is missing, and the individual feels this absence. In Portuguese, 'tenho saudades tuas', translates as 'I have saudade of you' meaning 'I miss you', but carries a much stronger tone. In fact, one can have 'saudade' of someone whom one is with, but have some feeling of loss towards the past or the future.
In Brazil, the day of saudade is officially celebrated on January 30.
Saudade is exactly what I've been feeling lately.

For me it's getting close to the anniversary of my Father's passing, three years ago. It does not nearly feel like it's been three years. Every time we go to visit my Mom, it feels like Dad has just stepped out for a moment. Saudade.

We didn't go to my Mom's for Christmas this year. Instead we went up for New Year's. Of course, the Christmas decorations were still up. And naturally she told us all about the Christmas she had, with my brother the Old Vermonter and his family and my other younger brother the Musician, up from Boston. It was something I wish I'd been there for. Saudade.

Then at New Years' I had a lot of fun with my Mom. She's in her 80's yet still acts like she did in her 30's. But still, she's in her 80's. I am terrified at the prospect of my Mother not being around someday. Saudade.

At least it's how I understand the concept of saudade.

Where I live there are many Portuguese, primarily from the Azores (
Açores in Portuguese), I can't wait to talk to my Portuguese friends about saudade.

It's something I've felt and understood for a long time. Now I'm glad to know there's actually a word for it. A word with many subtle shadings and nuance. Saudade.

I also have a new day to "celebrate". On the 30th of January, I'll remember those absent from my life.

13 comments:

  1. I know that feeling.
    My youngest daughter would have been 35 tomorrow.

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    1. I can't even begin to comprehend the pain of that loss. My heart goes out to you and GS.

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  2. What I said at "The Place For Us All."

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  3. Just lost my Dad I think 3 weeks ago tomorrow. If you were to look up daddy's girl in the dictionary my picture would be right there. I know what you mean by this article though. Just after he passed the house seemed weird like something or someone was missing. My parents house was a little off. The vibe was different. My mom said she noticed the same thing after her dad died for a few years afterwards. I look at pictures of our family camp in upstate Maine and while I am sad that my mom and her brother want to sell the camp it isn't the camp where I spent summers with my grandmother. That building was torn down a few years back because it was falling down at age 90 plus and a new building placed. Just isn't the same. I don't know if you read my tribute to my dad that I posed a couple of weeks back at my blog. I have been loathe to change it and don't post nearly as frequently as you do anyway. I have been mulling something about abortion but just can't bring myself to change it just yet.

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    1. jib - so sorry for your loss. Today marks 18 years since my own beloved dad died and like you, I was the epitome of the daddy's girl. I remain his in every way a daughter can belong to her dad. My heart goes out to you.

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    2. jib, I had started to read your tribute to your Dad when you first posted it but at the time, I just couldn't. Today I could. It was beautiful and so obviously from the heart that it brought tears to my eyes.

      I know the very special relationship I have with my daughters and know what you and Kris are talking about in your relationships with your Dads.

      At the end of February I'll mark three years since my Dad left us. For a time. Someday we'll be together again. All of us. Until then, we live.

      Saudade.

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    3. Thank you both for you thoughtful, kind words.

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  4. What a magnificent word - and meaning - to learn. Thank you for teaching me! I have had much the same feeling of late, since losing my job. I have been rolling it around in my head as "mid-life crisis", but this describes it much better.

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    1. Isn't it a great word? Though it doesn't really assuage the feeling, having a name you can put to a thing helps us "own it" I think.

      At my favorite Dunkin' Donuts there's this nice Portuguese lady who works there whom I am always kidding around with. When I was taking time off at Christmas, she jokingly asked me if I was working that day. I told her no. She then told me that as I had the day off, I didn't deserve a donut. We laughed and now it's a running joke.

      Well, I stopped by there today and she asked me if I worked on Saturdays, eyeing the donut she was about to put in the bag. I told her no. She then started the "you don't deserve a donut" schtick, when I quickly told her that I'd learned a new Portuguese word. Does that count, I asked?

      Only if I pronounced it correctly she said. Of course, you know the word I used. Fortunately I pronounced it right. (Approximately "sow-dajuh". Google Translate will pronounce it for you if you type it in and hit the little speaker icon.)

      But the look on her face. It told me nearly everything I needed to know about "saudade". She told me of the deep meaning this word has to the Portuguese people. We had a great chat about it. It's a powerful word. It's a good word. I find myself using it a lot lately.

      Thanks for stopping by, Suldog.

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  5. What a lovely, thoughtful post and comments. Thank you for writing this, AFS - and you're not so old, you know! ; ) And thank you, also, for reminding me of Lex. It doesn't seem that long ago that we lost him.

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    1. Thanks SKK. Coming from you, that means a lot.

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