Camping on the Edge of Life

Too often now I feel as if I am camping on the edge of life. To a certain extent, this feeling comes from my current living situation. I am staying with my 96-year-old father to make sure he retains his independence as long as possible, but since his house is fully furnished, that means most of my stuff is in storage. I have my clothes, of course, my computer, my own towels, a few kitchen items, a couple of furniture pieces (such as the table and chair I’m presently using for my desk) — just enough to connect me to the past but not enough to make me feel settled. I won’t be staying here once my father is gone campingand that knowledge also keeps me from feeling settled, makes me feel as if I am just camping in. (Rather than camping out.)

More than that, though, this feeling of camping on the edge of life comes from being single in a coupled world. It’s been three and a third years since the death of my life mate/soul mate, and I’m still not comfortable with his being gone. Despite that, quite inexplicably I’m forgetting that I once shared my life, once loved deeply, once felt as if I lived smack dab in the middle of life. As my grief continues to wane, as I move further from him, it seems as if this is lonely existence is what my life has always been — and it should be enough, but it isn’t. Not yet.

We live in a world where movies, books, songs, videos, shows, ads and commercials all extol the virtue of being in an intimate relationship. Love makes the world go round. You’re nobody till somebody loves you. All you need is love. Love makes you feel complete. Love makes you feel fulfilled. Love makes life worth living.

This constant barrage of coupled love and happily ever after is a sad message for many of us — either we lost our love too soon through death or divorce, or never found someone in the first place.

Intellectually, I know that whatever I am doing or feeling is life. Being together or being alone, feeling fulfilled or feeling unfulfilled — all of it is life. And yet, I can’t help feeling that something is missing.

It might sound as if I’m looking for someone to share my life with, but I’m not. I’m just aware of the realities of being uncoupled in a coupled world. I suppose there will come a time when I embrace the freedom of my alonehood, and plunge deep into the heart of life, but for now, all logic to the contrary, I feel as if I am camping on the edge of life.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

4 Responses to “Camping on the Edge of Life”

  1. Kathy Says:

    Interesting post, Pat! I felt the “uncoupled in a coupled world” after my divorce. I’m going through an odd thing returning to the Bay Area at this age. After living all over the country, it seems I’ve become used to “we” and here it’s so much about “I” going about your daily life, that it feels like a disadvantage when we go about the business of living as a couple. We’re learning to grocery shop separately – things seem to go better. And we’re choosing our couple activities carefully. The Bay Area has its unique quirks, for sure.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      All adjustments seem to have their challenges. I’d never considered the problems of living coupled in an uncoupled world — as you say, the Bay area has unique quirks!

  2. Carol Ann Hoel Says:

    Love may find you suddenly, unexpectedly, causing your life to change, hope to blossom, and loneliness to disappear into the past, leaving you with an exciting future. Blessings to you, Pat…

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