Goodbye My Lover

imagesLast summer I went to my ex-husband’s parent’s house to visit; his grandparents had just moved in after his grandfather had a stroke.  His grandmother had always been kind to me even though her grandson and I had long since ended our relationship; we had even exchanged Christmas cards for years, me sending them from the past four states I had lived in during five years.

My daughters had not visited their grandparents in a while, and it had been even longer since they had seen their great-grandparents; so my youngest made a cake and we made the five minute car trip to visit.  My ex-father-in-law had been providing hospice care for his father in the home where he runs his business while his 80 something year-old mother did her best to help.

When we arrived, I was immediately affected by the scene; W, the great-grandmother, with her hair and makeup completely done, was standing by J’s hospital bed holding his hand.  The bed had been brought into the area between the table in the kitchen and the family room so he could be a part of everything; he looked so small and frail, not the healthy robust man I remembered.

W stood beside him as we all gathered around the table talking and visiting; everyone oohing and ahhing over my grandson’s bright red hair, and discussing my youngest daughter’s upcoming wedding.  Every now and then, W would turn to J and say, “J look at your two great-granddaughters, didn’t they turn out to be beautiful young ladies? And here, meet their families.”  J would stare off vacantly, but W would talk to him as if he were completely present.

I watched her with him, trying to hold back my tears the entire evening; she never left his side.  When we cut the cake, her son tried to get her to come to the table to have a piece, “Mom, come and sit down, Dad will be okay for a minute,” he pleaded with her.

“Oh, no,” she replied, “I can’t leave him, he’ll know.”  She did not even want to let him go for a second; finally, somebody brought her some cake and a chair to eat next to the hospital bed.

When we left that evening and said our goodbyes, it was the last time we would ever see J again; he died a few weeks later.  He and W had been married over 50 years; probably closer to 60.  I saw W at my daughter’s wedding a few weeks later; she seemed utterly lost without him.

When I think of the way she looked that night, sitting with him, holding his hand, and refusing to leave his side; I cry.  I don’t mean in the way that my eyes well up with a few tears, I mean to say that I have cried so hard I feel like I cannot stop.  I do not just cry for them, but I cry for me.

As we drove away from the house that night, I realized something; I want what they have.  I want somebody to love me so deeply, so profoundly, that they could love me for 50 years.

However, nobody ever will.

If I live to be over 50, my parents will not love me for 50 years; my father is dead, and my mother has gone years without speaking to me, so she clearly will not love me for 50 years.

If I am still alive when my children are in their 50’s, they will not have loved me for 50 years; they do not speak to me now, so they clearly will not.

I will not have had a love for 50 years; I have already been divorced twice, not even close to 50 years…

I have not even had a friend for 5 years, let alone 50.

I started to think about the people who have come and gone from my life; friends, lovers, spouses…

I have given so much of myself at times; some say too much, others say not enough.  Regardless of how you look at it, I failed at something, at everything; at love.

10 thoughts on “Goodbye My Lover

  1. I share similar numbers with you. 2 marriages, one parent gone, the other might as well be. A grown child I don’t know, a young one who I doubt will know me 50 years. Can I ask a gentle question? Is it about the time? Can’t we still cling to the hope, however slim, that a love might find us. A love so powerful as to stop time? Where a moment presents itself as an entire lifetime? Those moments happen, and they happen when you least expect it. I’m not trying to cheer you up with platitudes or false hope. I think I’m writing this more for me, please forgive me. You struck a very deep chord.

    • Oh, certainly…

      I very much love a man right now; and I believe faithfully that he loves me. However, I still feel… skeptical. How can he love me? Nobody else has; everybody walks away… why won’t he.

      And, 50 years??? I am 44… I am suicidal half the times… and well… life has been hard. I would love to have what I witnessed. The peace, the love, the undying bond. I want to be loved, I want to accept love. I just don’t know how.

      I just don’t. Nobody taught me that.


  2. In my book, I think that I am realizing that we are all searching for our own Camelot and maybe, what we are looking for is not in this lifetime. Maybe it will be in heaven for us. I am not sure. But I know what you mean, I want to love and be loved with that kind of depth. I thought I found it a few times. The first time I fell in love my heart broke so badly that I never ever dealt with it. Funny, he came back to apologize 3 decades later. It made me wonder if he had been the love of my life like he thouht I had been… or if it was just because we were each other’s firsts… And then I was married for 14 years to the man I had my children with. I loved him more than he loved me. He has since died. On his death bed, he apologized. He knew I had tired more than I should have.
    And now I am married to an amazing man who loves me very much. Someone told me once that in every relationship, there is always one person that loves the other more. I hate that theory but I think it may be true. Hence; my camelot question… Maybe your grandparent in laws have found it…. All I know is if someone loves me that much. I hope I love them back equally as much.
    NOW… how is that for giving the most upbeat message for once?
    I guess I just understand what you mean…and GET it… Heck forget 50 years… I’ll take one at a time!!! Cuzzz I have less chance of you being loved like that for fifty more years…

    • I guess I should look at it that way… I should be lucky and happy to be loved at all. Even one year at a time; by anyone.

      And, you are right, I have heard it before – that one person always loves the other more in a relationship… but that always feels like such a game. I just want to feel safe, secure… and know that when I need to be loved, to be held, if I have to cry… well, that it will be okay and that he will still be there. I am not certain I have ever felt like that.

      So it goes, so it goes…

      One day… If I can ever let go.


  3. Hope you find your peace in the future, your story is not unfamiliar and many share you troubling journey also. My own life took a drastic downturn when my wife who was my soul-mate died in an instant one day in a terrorist attack in NYC. I had many lonely years and still had hope that something good would happen. Have faith and know that there are people who love what you put into word here and on your other areas. You have a talent that is appreciated. I hope your life takes a turn like mine has in your future.

    • Thank you, Sir.

      I believe it has… I am still waiting to see if I have found my happily ever after: as I screwed up and am… well, waiting to see if I have truly been forgiven.

      Writing is new to me, and is at least saving my soul temporarily.


  4. I’m afraid I cannot relate to wanting what other people have. Whether it be their appearance, their possessions, their relationships, their lives, I do not envy not because I shouldn’t, but simply because that is not what I am. So when you wish you had something someone else has I think what you envy is a lovely thing but it is not you and it is not me. It is them.

    If I wish to have a great love then I love greatly. I don’t know how to explain better than that and I certainly cannot guide anyone there. If I am against stealing, I do not steal and am happy with that. If I want to rescue people then I find people to rescue.

    But to just love, to be in love, I must first love myself, I must put love into everything I do (even this now), and to me a person coming or going does not mean love coming into or going out of my life. I love them while they are with me and I love them while they are leaving and always I am loving myself, respecting myself, treating others well and demanding they treat me well, and loving who I am with and inviting them to love me back.

    I sometimes think the great romantic love, THE ONE, is a fairytale myth, a story to tell children at bedtime along with Jack and the Beanstalk and Santa Claus. Love changes and grows and evolves over time. Perhaps if two people are lucky it begins with lust and gradually becomes a life partnership and the greatest of friendships.

    It is my firm belief that I could marry and get along with about 70% of women. That is a wild guess but I tend to bother to shape my physical world as well as my world view. If I don’t like what I have then I get something different. If I don’t like my situation then I change it if I can and if I can’t then I change how I look at it. I find a way to be happy and I make it so. I don’t see that as a choice.

    50 years. I will have to live to be 90 in order to meet that arbitrary goal with my one and only wife. And I will have to live to be 105 in order to be your loyal and caring friend for that long. It seems impossible. I love myself and all those in my life completely. That is just the right amount of love for me.

    [I wonder if this will be my blog tomorrow. You inspire me so.]

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