the things i didn’t know i missed

by Christie Shumate McElwee

Nazim Hikmet, a renowned Turkish poet, wrote a poem titled “Things I Didn’t know I Loved” after he was released from jail after serving years for his radical acts and words. In this poem, Hikmet is on a train looking out the window. He is pondering what he forgot he loved when he was incarcerated. He writes of curling rivers and asphalt roads. He remembers brief moments from his life that now seem precious. He also recounts how snow “flashes in front of my eyes..I never knew I liked snow.” The poem is a joyous love letter to all he had missed when in prison.

During this unprecedented time in history, the world has paused. Restaurants are shuttered. Stores are closed. Many of us stay sheltered in place while others work the front lines. As the curve flattens and plans begin to come together on how to open up again, we mourn what we have lost. My niece won’t have her college graduation celebrations. My nephew is missing his end-of-the year 8th grade traditions. Another friend’s daughter is contemplating rescheduling her wedding. Some friends and family members have been furloughed or fired from jobs. And, especially, we all are grieving the pain and lives lost due to this virus.

As I read Hikmet’s poem, I pondered my own list of things I miss while sheltering in place.

What are the things I didn’t know I truly loved until now?

Al fresco dinners at dusk while twinkle lights sparkle

Wandering through stores, touching the merchandise, chatting with clerks

Laughing with good friends over lunch at Massa’s

Walking sandy Gulf Shores and later stopping for drinks at The Pink Pony

Hugging (always hugging)

Hiking park trails while admiring the wildlife, both animal and human

Practicing yoga at Blue Bird studio

Weekend breakfasts with my husband at Crooked Tree or The Shack or any of our other favorite establishments

Meeting friends for coffee at The Bridge and diving deep into conversations  

Visiting the zoo on a warm day and saying hello to the bears and elephants and tigers

Meandering the walkways of the Botanical Gardens

Going to a play or a concert or a festival

Having my hair washed by my stylist. Ahhhh……

The pure joy of life is what we grieve. Soon we will be able to call up a friend and say, “Hey, let’s meet for coffee,” and we will reminisce about our sequestered days over lattes, but for now we remember the things we didn’t know we missed.

We missed our annual trip down to Gulf Shores.
Next year.

Link to “Things I Didn’t Know I Loved” by Nazim Hikmet

https://poets.org/poem/things-i-didnt-know-i-loved