I’m working on my grief book, typing up my grief journal entries. I thought this would be a book about grief, but it seems more like a love story, which is so very ironic. Soon after I met my life mate — my soul mate — I quit my job to write. I wanted to tell the story of a great love that transcended time and physical bonds, told with wisdom and beauty. I sat down to write, and . . . nothing. Back then, I thought all one had to do to write was to sit down, pen in hand, and let the words flow. Well the words didn’t flow. So I put off my dream of being a writer and went about the business of living. Years later, while going about the business of dying (his dying) I started writing again just to get out of my head, to get a respite from my life. I eventually learned how to write, but I always wrote slowly . . . until I started a grief journal and posthumous letters to my mate. Those flowed. And now it turns out that this grief book could be that love story I always wanted to tell. Life sure plays games with us!
Several people have told me they envied me my great love, but I’ve hesitated to tell the truth: it didn’t feel like love. We never had much of a romance. After a few brief years of hope and happiness, our love was sublimated by the constraints of his growing ill-health. It seemed that our cosmic love devolved into the prosaic things of life: cooking meals, doing errands, struggling to keep our retail business alive. And then it devolved further into simply surviving. Getting through the days as best as we could. We thought we’d stopped loving each other. We thought we were ready for the coming separation — he to death, me to life alone.
His hospice nurse, who got to know us both very well, told me she didn’t think he and I knew how much we loved each other. And apparently that was true. That mystifies me — how could we not have known? We always knew we had a deep connection, though we never understood it and at times we both railed against it in our struggle to maintain our own identities, but we took that connection for granted. And what is that connection if not love?
In my foolish youth, I thought I’d still be able to feel his presence when he was dead, but I only feel his absence, and maybe that’s enough to remind me that love is not all hearts and flowers and passion. It is not what you feel. It is what you do. It is being there for each other. And, until the very end, we always were.
June 10, 2011 at 6:36 pm
Wow. This is so moving. And yes, that’s exactly what love looks like. It’s easy to be there in the good times–the “for richer” times, the “in health” times, the “better” times. Being there the rest of the times is what truly matters. Yes, this is love.
June 10, 2011 at 8:14 pm
Funny, because since I’ve heard of J, his illness and then his death and your grief the most common thought I held, (except ow beautifully written your pieces were) is that yours is a true love story. Never thought of it any other way. Even your most throw-away kind of remark leaked love all over the page. But maybe that ‘s the best kind of love, the kind where you don’t sit around thinking to yourself, “Wow, we’ve got the most amazing love story!” You’re too busy living it.
You have no idea how much I appreciate you sharing your life, your love and your grief. You’ve shared something so precious to all of us, your readers. I thank you dear.
June 11, 2011 at 9:19 pm
We get and give lots of advice about love in the early stages of a relationship. What few people tell us is that there are various kinds of love, and the emotional version that young lovers experience at the beginning, the ‘eros’, really isn’t what true love is all about. In retrospect, I like the Greek “agape” kind of love best… the kind where each partner cares more about the well being of the other than for ones’ own. When both have agape for each other, then the needs of both are met in a selfless, but fulfilling experience. It’s a mature kind of love. Couples in a long term agape shares a special bond, a contentment with the relationship, even in its tempestuous moments. After being married 51 years I see love as a steady and comfortable arrangement. I can’t bear to think of what life would be like without my partner. It would be like half of me has been torn away, and I assume it would be much like that for my hubby.
I’m so glad you’re writing this grief book and I think many people will benefit by it. You have a way of expressing yourself that lets others share your experience and will help them know that they aren’t alone in theirs.
June 12, 2011 at 8:22 pm
I think the most beautiful thing for a person to share with the world is a story of a true love. It is realistic in the telling and everyone’s is unique. I would love to hear your story. i wish I could write mine. But I can’t.
July 23, 2011 at 7:57 am
The polarities in life usually dictate what we think we feel and see. Subliminally it is much more and, as Pat Bertram’s story explains, it is what lies beneath those everyday matters which becomes most profound — and real. I have co-written a book called The Meadow. Its main message is to demonstrate how all things, without exception, are interconnected. The inner cosmic strands are what holds our physical and mental fibre together. More often than not we weave those strands into something that can not be untangled. Where we recognize those special ‘connections’ is when we see beyond those tangled webs. This is what happened between Pat and her partner.
The Meadow — http://themeadownovel.wordpress.com