Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Not Sharing Memories

A neighbor of mine is going through a painful divorce. I have heard the pain in her voice and it has pierced me to my very marrow. I think her pain is due as much to grieving about the future as it is to sadness about the present.

I have an elderly friend who lives thousands of miles away from me and has always been very honest about her single status. She was married for 35 years to a man with whom she had seven children. She changed her religion to his, because that's what he wanted. She didn't pursue a career because that's he didn't want her to and besides, his was SO important and he didn't want her working because how would that look. She changed the artistic and slightly bohemian way she dressed because he didn't like it. He preferred that she look like a North Shore (of Lake Michigan) Nancy (conservative). And then, when their youngest child left home for university, he decided that he was ready for a change. So he left her. And because she had taken so much for so long, she took this final insult as though she deserved it and now, in her mid 80s, she is alone because someone felt like a change. I think of her so often because of one little comment she made to me many years ago. We were sitting on a park bench, chatting, when an elderly couple walked by very slowly...holding hands. She looked at them long after they'd passed us and then turned to me. "That's what I've missed," she said. "Growing old together and sharing our memories."


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