Saudade (European Portuguese: [sɐwˈðaðɨ], Brazilian Portuguese: [sawˈdadi] or [sawˈdadʒi], Galician: [sawˈðaðe]; plural saudades) is a Portuguese and Galician word that has no direct translation in English. It describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic or deeply melancholic 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) that should be there in a particular moment is missing, and the individual feels this absence. It brings sad and happy feelings all together, sadness for missing and happiness for having experienced the feeling.
I have been going to shul every morning to say kaddish for Jake. I now wear Jake’s tallit, and when I put it on, I wrap myself in his spirit. And the crazy thing is, there might still be some remnant of his physical being in this fringed rectangle of wool; maybe some skin cells trapped in the weave, some of his dried perspiration, some small trace of his DNA that I can hold close, that touches my own skin. It is the same thing with his tefillin that I wear. They once touched him, now they lie against my arm and upon my head. The suck-ey thing is that the son is supposed to inherit his father’s tallit and tefillin, not the other way around.
Originally posted on Facebook January 16, 2014