Every Sunday, it’s “Modern Love”

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Every Sunday morning, cup of coffee in hand, I rifle through the three papers we have delivered each weekend morn, and find the Modern Love column in the New York Times. I’ve read it regularly for the past twenty years. If you’ve never read it, the Modern Love columns are, as defined by their editors, “deeply personal essays about contemporary relationships, marriage, dating, parenthood…any subject that might reasonably fit under the heading “Modern Love”.” The columns are well-written, succinct snippets of the emotional lives of others. Some are funny, some are enlightening, many will break your heart.

Thus far, in 2012, the columns have dealt with infertility and adoption, what one gives up when one settles down, the shock when a lover suddenly leaves, the grief a father shares with his sons when his wife suddenly dies (this one made me sob), and, in last Sunday’s paper, the dangers of trying to fix a marriage that isn’t broken.  

One of my favorite columns is one so sad; it makes me teary to think of it. It’s written by the novelist Ann Hood and is about her inability to listen to the Beatles after her five year old daughter, Grace, died suddenly. Ms. Hood writes:

Sometimes now, alone, I find myself singing softly. “And when at last I find you, your song will fill the air,” I sing to Grace, imagining her blue eyes shining behind her own little wire-rimmed glasses, her feet tapping in time. “Love you whenever we’re together, love you when we’re apart.” It was once my favorite love song, silent now in its White Album cover in my basement.

How foolish I was to have fallen so easily for Paul while overlooking John and George, to have believed that everything I could ever want was right there in that family room of my childhood: cousins, TV, my favorite music. But mostly I feel foolish for believing that my time with my daughter would never end.

Or perhaps that is love: a leap of faith, a belief in the impossible, the ability to believe that a little girl in a small>town in Rhode Island would grow up to marry Paul McCartney. Or for a grieving woman to believe that a mother’s love is so strong that the child she lost can still hear her singing a lullaby.

The column, written in 2006, will break your heart. But, if you are a long time reader of Modern Love, you would have been moved to tears of joy when, in 2009, Ms. Hood wrote about Annabelle, the child her family adopted two years after Grace’s death in the Modern Love column To Nurture Again, with Courage.

Reading Modern Love each week has changed me, made me see my own relationships in new ways. It’s my favorite part of the paper, the one thing I read with joy every week.

How about you? Is there a column or a part of the Sunday paper you treasure each weekend?

Dabney Grinnan

2 thoughts on “Every Sunday, it’s “Modern Love”

  1. Susan/DC

    We only get two newspapers on Sunday mornings, but one of them is the New York Times and, like you, I make sure to read the Modern Love column. It reminds me of the fact that love is central to our lives, even if it takes forms I never would have imagined. In 250 words it does what a good novel does, brings me closer to people I’ve never met and brought me to places I’ve never been. The stories are poignant, sad, joyous, funny, and almost always well worth the reading. Now when I read ML on a Sunday morning, I’ll know that someone else from the AAR community is doing the same.

  2. DabneyAAR

    Susan/DC: We only get two newspapers on Sunday mornings, but one of them is the New York Times and, like you, I make sure to read the Modern Love column.It reminds me of the fact that love is central to our lives, even if it takes forms I never would have imagined.In 250 words it does what a good novel does, brings me closer to people I’ve never met and brought me to places I’ve never been.The stories are poignant, sad, joyous, funny, and almost always well worth the reading.Now when I read ML on a Sunday morning, I’ll know that someone else from the AAR community is doing the same.

    That was beautifully put, Susan. Thanks for sharing. My sister FB’ed me that the column from two weeks ago was so moving, it made her get up and hug her kids. She’s married with three boys; this was the column about the man with three sons.

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