Tennyson v. Winchester
Her eyes are homes of silent prayer.
The first thing John noticed about Mary? Her eyes. Yes, it's a cliché but it was also true. It wasn't the color – though, he did pass that test when he was asked – it was the depth, the profundity, the intensity held within Mary's eyes. He could look into her eyes and see his future mapped out for him, for them. He could see the two of them today, tomorrow, and in countless tomorrows to come, surrounded by children and grandchildren. He could see the happiness and love that their life together would bring. John could see everything he ever hoped for in Mary's eyes.
Brief is life but love is long.
She was gone – too soon. John was not ready to let Mary go, would never be ready to let her go, but he was not given the choice. He was barely given a warning. One moment she was there, the next he found her dying (or possibly dead already) and out of reach. And then fire.
Mary was not the love of John's life; Mary is the love of John's life. Her death did not bring an end to his love, though he often feels that his life would be much easier if it had.
I must lose myself in action, lest I wither in despair.
John is… numb. No other word comes close to describing his physical and emotional state. Mary died, was taken, was murdered. His love, his life, his wife, the mother of his children… the children. He has to find a way to keep from drowning, lest he take the boys (Mary's final gift to him) under with him. But, he can't simply move on.
Instead, John decides to avenge Mary's death. He begins to investigate and research and prepare. All of his waking hours, and even some of the dormant ones, are spent preparing for war. It is kill or be killed, and John has already lost enough for one lifetime.
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die.
John found out long ago that Mary was not killed by another human. Though he almost refused to believe it, he found that she was slain by a demon. He also discovered that demons and spirits and creatures he thought only existed in myths and fairy tales were very real.
Being a military man, he saw life on Earth as a war – and the other side had considerable advantages. He needed troops, and so troops he raised. He brought his boys up as soldiers, to help him in battle but also so that they could protect themselves when needed.
My strength has the strength of ten because my heart is pure.
Dean had spent only four years of his life as a naïve child. After his mother's death, he became a man, a protector, a provider, a fighter. He was second in command, barely out of his toddler years, and there was a lot of responsibility given to such a post. But, he accepted his duties and excelled expectations, playing many different roles, each with equal intensity.
That loss is common would not make
My own less bitter, rather more
Sam never knew his mother – not really. He was still an infant when she died, and any possible memories he may have had burned in the same fire that took her away. He learned quite early in life not to ask his father for any details, as he only ever got two responses – sadness or anger. He instead relied on photos (though there were not many) and stories told to him by his brother.
Despite being raised to mourn the woman's absence, Sam just couldn't seem to feel the grief that his father and brother did. The loss he felt more strongly was that of stability. Sam lamented the loss of his father (and later his brother) on long hunting weekends, of the friends he made at each new school and in each new town. And, no, the irony was not lost on Sam when he was finally the one to leave, to be lost.
And yet, even with all the experience he had, Sam felt his newest loss – Jessica – perhaps the cruelest of all.
For always roaming with a hungry heart,
Much have I seen and known.
Dean had lived in houses, apartments, and motel rooms most of his life; he hadn't had a home since he was four. No, Dean considered home not to be a place, but where ever his father and brother were. Unfortunately, the older his brother got, the less time Sam and John spent in the same location. While neither would admit it, they were far too much alike to be kept in such close quarters. Often, Dean thought it might be easier to keep two werewolves in a pen during a full moon than try and keep the peace between his father and brother.
Dean had been hunting, pretty much, full-time since he had graduated from high school but when Sam left for college, he found less and less motivation to stay in one place for too long. It was just easier to keep moving, to search for that one thing/person/place to make everything whole again, instead of dwelling on what was missing.
And ask ye why these sad tears stream?
Why these wan eyes are dim with weeping?
I had a dream–a lovely dream,
Of her that in the grave is sleeping.
The dreams were coming more and more frequently. Well, Sam could hardly call images of the love of his life bound to the ceiling with her belly torn open and her blood dripping down on him dreams. Nightmares. They were true nightmares, and each one was more vivid than the last. Jessica – ceiling – blood – fire – why Sam? – death. And Sam unable to stop it. The mere thought of sleep brought tears to his eyes and a sick feeling to his stomach. For the first time in his life, Sam understood his father's quest for retribution.
Whatever crazy sorrow saith,
No life that breathes with human breath
Has ever truly long'd for death.
There wasn't much Dean would not sacrifice to keep his father and brother happy. If it were in his power, he would fix all the pain, right all the wrongs, and bring back the women they loved. He had been affected by Mary and Jessica's deaths as well, only in a different way. He hadn't lost the woman he loved to a violent death, but he had been there to try and put the men back together after their hearts were shattered. After all, it was a part of his duty.
There was a certain rationale that Dean followed – maybe not consciously, but followed nonetheless. Sam was at the top of the 'do not kill' list, followed by John. Dean was not suicidal by any means, but he was willing (prepared even) to jump in front of Sam or John to take away any fraction of their suffering he was able to. After all, what was the loss of a childhood in comparison to the loss of love?
But over all things brooding slept
The quiet sense of something lost.
20 years. Had it really been over 20 years since Mary's death? John remembered it all so clearly that it could have been yesterday. But, looking at his sons – no longer an infant and toddler, but men – it was clear to him how much he had really lost. In the beginning, all John cared about was revenge – as if that would take the pain away.
Now, he could see the true cost of this war. Both he and his younger son had lost the women that meant the most to them in the world. His older son had never had a childhood and could never have a normal life – he had given it all up to be a soldier in John's army.
In all the dreams that he and Mary shared about their children and the wonderful lives they would lead, John realized that he had failed to give his boys even the slightest chance to fulfill any such fantasy.
I hold it true, whatever befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
There's this famous saying: It's better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. Have you ever tried it? Really tried it? Have you ever loved – truly loved –someone who you could swear the sun and moon revolved around, whose mere presence causes you to smile and feel your stomach flutter (in that really good way)?
Is it better to have that love and then lose it? Really? Wouldn't you rather not know that kind of happiness if you knew that you wouldn't be able to hold onto it? Is it really better to feel it for only a little while than to not know what you're missing? Would you be able to say, Well, at least I felt that kind of love, if even for only a moment?
Would you be able to stand by and watch your parent and/or sibling feel that happiness and then have if stripped away in the most hurtful way possible?
Who's he kidding? What the hell did Tennyson know, anyway?