It Does Happen Twice

I’ve probably seen Sleepless in Seattle ten times and never once realized it was a movie about grieving. When the Nora Ephron romcom first hit theaters back in 1993, I saw it primarily as a delightful film starring the incredibly likable Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. The two fall in love despite living on opposite sides of the country and never meet in person until the final scene.

Completely caught up in the will-they-won’t-they push-pull of this funny but heart-tugging homage to An Affair to Remember (1957), I didn’t focus on the fact that the film’s main character Sam Baldwin is a man who just lost his wife.

In typical cinematic fashion, Sam’s day-to-day struggle to mourn happens off-screen. In an attempt to start over, the single father and his little boy, Jonah, relocate to Seattle. Worried about his dad’s sadness and sleepless nights, Jonah calls in to a talk radio show, letting the psychologist on the other end of the line know that what his father needs is a new wife.

One of the hundreds of women listening in turns out to be Annie, Sam’s perfect match. After a series of near misses, the two finally meet at the top of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day and, after staring meaningfully into each other’s eyes, walk hand-in-hand into their happily ever after with Jonah in tow.

I saw Sleepless again on a recent, blustering Omaha Saturday afternoon and still didn’t tweak to the fact that Tom Hanks plays a widower in any real way until his character said these five words, “It just doesn’t happen twice.” Sam says this in response to his sister’s declaration that he’ll start seeing other women someday.

What he’s trying to say is that he needn’t bother seeing other women because he’s already lost the love of his life. To him, his wife was such a unique and precious human being there’s no possibility of her ever being replaced.

I agree completely. When Michael died, replacing him was impossible. But like Sam, when I was ready to open my heart to someone new, I took the one-in-a-million chance of meeting Marty—not to take the place of the person I lost, but to help me create a new existence—one that includes Mike’s very real presence and my memories of him as a vital ingredient in Marty’s and my future happiness.

So, like Sam found out when he met Annie on the top of the Empire State Building, I, too, have discovered that love does happen twice after all.

7 thoughts on “It Does Happen Twice”

  1. This is interesting. The two times I saw SiS I felt that it *mostly* was a movie about grief. All the scene’s taking place in Hank’s house seemed to have a pall of grief hanging on them. Maybe I should watch this again. the last time was probably 25 years ago. I might be misremembering. The only thing I remember concrete about the movie was the boy’s friend was pretty funny. It’s awesome you’re a ‘twicer’. I feel like so many people don’t find a true life-partner connection once. Of course, I think it takes a good deal of personal commitment and work to find it, and probably most people aren’t willing to put in the effort.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I just tended to focus on the romantic elements of the film until I experienced personal grief myself. Perhaps I was missing the point. Jonah’s friend is hilarious. I’m lucky to find a life partner twice in my life, and completely agree that it took a lot of effort both times it happened.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand completely. I’m glad you felt this post was hopeful as I’m feeling pretty damned good about the future these days. Wishing all the best for both of us on our grief journey.


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