…is a Galician and Portuguese word that is used to describe longing for something or someone that you used to have, but is now lost. It is an enduring love of sorts, a remembrance of what once was. Growing up as a budding linguist, “saudade” was this romantic thing to me; pining and longing were the stuff from which little girls’ fairy tales were made of. You see, I used to be believe that inherent in the word “loss” was the implication that what was lost could easily be found or replaced. Happily ever afters were something I firmly believed in, and good ole Disney just reinforced this belief.
Now I know better.
There is nothing remotely fairy tale-ish about saudade, for it is firmly rooted in real life. To feel saudade—to experience it—is to have joy, sadness, triumph, defeat, hope, despair, ecstacy, sorrow, etc all at the same time. More often than not, it does not lead to a happy ending. “Tenho saudades tuas.” Now I know the true meaning of loss; it’s the realization, day after day, that what you lost can never be replaced.