Saudade

Maricarmen Campos Castro

A dear friend of mine, Irene, learned about a new word this week. This word is part of the Portuguese language. Knowing that I was born in Brazil, she shared what happened with me with the desire to further understand “the word [that] seemed so lovely” to her.

Basically, Irene was trying to find a synonym online. She landed on a page featuring the Portuguese word, “saudade,” written by Celinne da Costa and sponsored by Rosetta Stone. Celinne defined “saudade” as "a feeling of longing, melancholy, desire, and nostalgia that is characteristic of the Brazilian or Portuguese temperament… a deep emotional state; a yearning for a happiness that has passed, or perhaps never even existed. It carries with it a touch of melancholy, yet in that wistfulness, there is love as well.”

Like me, Irene loves words and loved the concept she read about “saudade”— “…so robust, all-embracing, mystical, and personal, kind of a bittersweet, unexplainable feeling, sort of to love someone or something so much that you could feel a part of your heart missing when they're gone.”

She found it to be beautiful! I could not agree more; it is a beautiful word. No other word, in any other language, expresses “saudade” the way “saudade” expresses “saudade.”

Irene and I had a wonderful time talking about this amazing word and its different meanings. She was grateful and pleased to learn the correct use of the word. It gave her a peek into the thinking of someone from Brazil.

If you are wondering why I am sharing this: in face of the latest national events, “saudade” is deeply found in my heart.

“Saudade” is all the things Celinne wrote in her blog and more. Personally, my chosen definition of “saudade” today is “a desire for presence as opposed to absence” (Wikipedia).

With the COVID-19 situation, I desire the old way of life as opposed to its absence in isolation.

With the acts of violence we are witnessing in our nation, I desire for peace, love and respect of all people as opposed to its absence in violence.

Oh, que saudades que tenho de uma vida livre de vírus e violência.

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