States of Lonesomeness

September 14th, 2009

  • When your soul sister moves to a foreign country and you have to accept it’s permanent.
  • When your daughters live on the opposite coast but you can’t accept it’s permanent.
  • When the light turns in September and nature begins to wrap up summer and put it away.
  • When a friend dies, and though it’s expected, you’re not ready for the empty space.
  • When you call your father and you can’t think of anything to say to each other.
  • When everyone you know is out of town on the same weekend.
  • When you realize someone you love is beyond your help.
  • When a piece of music suddenly opens a door onto a scene from 30 years ago.
  • When you come across an old photo of yourself as a child taken before you understood sorrow.
  • When the full moon is leading you on a car chase across town, always just out of reach.
Lonesomeness is so different from loneliness. Lonesomeness stirs things up, while loneliness just knocks you flat. Lonesomeness is that Hank Williams feeling of mournful emptiness, that song we all recognize at some time or another — the chords of longing and sweet sadness and homesickness for something we’ve lost but can’t remember, all playing at once. It’s our national anthem of humanness.

6 Responses to “States of Lonesomeness”

  1. m. heart says:

    This list is so eloquently perfect, I feel these things all the time.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I am feeling the same way… oh, how I wish my daughter did not permanently live in a foreign country and oh, how I wish that his death did not happen… even though expected. The grief is overwhelming.

  3. susanna says:

    Such a sad yet beautifully-written post. Yes, there is a difference between lonesomeness and loneliness. What you've listed here are moments that remind you of happy occasions with loved ones in the past. Aren't we lucky to even have had those priceless, precious moments?

  4. Isabel says:

    Reading this post while listening to your Wilco's How to Fight Loneliness and thinking about how the distinction between loneliness and lonesomeness brings be back to my Portuguese word of "saudade"…

    Distance from my country of birth and the family I so love crystalized "saudade" throughout the years to a palpable level.

    Do you know the Portuguese group Madredeus? They totally translate this feeling of saudade with their music…



  5. anna maria says:

    I did not know it had a name.
    Thank you for naming it for me.

  6. anna maria says:

    Actually I just realized I had my own name for it. I called it "squeezing my heart".