I had lunch with some friends today, which would have been nice though not particularly significant if it weren’t that all the women were married. Since the death of my life mate/soul mate, most of my friends have been my fellow bereft — my sisters in sorrow — but gradually I’ve been meeting women who are still coupled. Today was the first time I found myself in the company of only married women.
I was actually okay — no tears — but it did make me sad to listen to these women talk about their husbands’ irritating qualities. Although I sympathized, I wanted to cry out to them to treasure every moment, even the most exasperating incidences, because in the end, every moment spent with the person you love (or once loved) is a golden moment.
But I kept my mouth shut. Anything I said — even a gentle request to give their husbands an extra hug that night — would have seemed as if I were chastising them, and if my words didn’t strike such a note, I would still have turned the focus of the conversation from them and their comfortable confidences to me and my uncomfortable realities. Besides, until you have lost your mate, you simply cannot understand how precious every moment is. You’re caught up in the daily struggle to maintain your autonomy in the face of someone else’s wishes, the struggle to get all of the day’s chores finished, the struggle to find a harmonious balance between aging bodies and youthful spirits. You don’t have the energy to focus on distant tragedy.
So, I’m telling you what I would have liked to say to them. Smile at your mate instead of ignoring or arguing with him. Give him an extra hug and maybe a kiss. Thank whatever powers you believe in that no matter how irritating he might be, you have him for one more day. This is an incredible gift I am giving you — a memory to treasure if ever you should become one of us bereft.
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.
October 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm
After losing my mother and father, I retained the knowledge (for awhile) of how fleeting our time together is. And yet, I think most of us can’t live with that knowledge or we’d be raw/frantic all the time. It’s a hard concept to wrap your head around. Wishing you peace . . .
October 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm
You’re right — we can’t live with the knowledge. Eventually we fall back into the old patterns of behavior, even those of us who are aware of the how little time we have.
Thank you for the wishes of peace. Someday . . .
October 2, 2013 at 4:03 pm
tired if hearing about ur loss, am canceling my subscription
October 2, 2013 at 5:58 pm
How many of these women knew about your love/soul mate? If all of them did, it would be strange that they all talked about their husbands in front of you without considering your opinion.
That’s just my opinion, though. It can be wrong.
October 2, 2013 at 6:03 pm
Most of them knew. I haven’t made a big thing of it other than to say he died and that it was hard. I didn’t really mind that they talked about their husbands — that’s their life just as being alone is mine.
October 2, 2013 at 7:04 pm
That’ pretty mature and strong, Pat.
October 2, 2013 at 9:11 pm
Glad to see life gradually moving forward Pat and you are enjoying all sorts of new friends. J would be proud of you!
I particularly liked your comment about how you didn’t mind that they spoke of their husbands or shared life and laughter. Good for you. I’m so glad you pointed that out. It shows you’re healing and that’s all good. You reminded us that just because we’ve lost someone dear to death is no reason to beat others over the head with our loss or close ourselves off to normal life experiences.
I think grief teaches a person to appreciate, not only life but, what we do have. Or, at least it has with me. Life is for living and finding those sparkles of joy where we can. Sharing laughter with good friends is one of those sparkles
Even when J was alive you had your moments of exasperation, you had your arguments and frustrations. We all do. It’s natural to kvetch over family faults and foibles. To be able to laugh over some of those things doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate what we have, we’re coping with those foibles and problems the only way we can–with kvetching and laughter. It puts things into perspective and reminds us we love them.
I’ve been married for 38 years. Hubs and I have gone through life’s ups and downs and all the good bad and ugly and still good. I’ve been working a lot of hours and he’s done so many things to make my life easier–cooked, cleaned, wrangled our recalcitrant kid, taken on extra chores of the ranch. Little things that say I matter. I do tell him how much I appreciate it. I do the same for him. Still there are moments he makes me so mad I could spit nails and I let him have my opinion with both barrels. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate him.
October 3, 2013 at 10:13 am
Nicely said. But I also don’t quite fit in with most married women. That’s how it is when you’re married to your soulmate. You’re so focused on the special, intimate connection you have with your soulmate, that you don’t have any complaints. And even if you could drum up one or two, you wouldn’t speak it publicly because you know it doesn’t matter. Sometimes I think women who marry for reasons other than having a soul mate, well, complaining is just part of their joy – lol!
October 3, 2013 at 1:09 pm
That was my experience, too. I never fit with the married women when we were together. Didn’t have anything to talk about with them. In all our years together, I never once complained about him, never criticized him, never had a single fight with him (well except for one stress-induced fight about six weeks before he died, but that lasted all of a minute or two).