Before I had my sons, I had six or more miscarriages in half the amount of years. I travelled a lot for work back then. I spent a lot of time observing babies on planes. They were a source of pain and wonder back then. At times I would look at them and the high tide of hope would have me think, “I wonder when, not if, I will be a mother”. Then the times when hope would go crashing out against the horizon, the thought “I will never be a mother” was enough to require the oxygen mask to drop before me and restore my breath. Today, I see a crying baby on a plane and I just want to put it in the overhead compartment and go back to the 43 channels of inflight entertainment I don’t watch. Had I known that those babies turned into TEEENAGERS, I could have saved myself some angst. Never tell your children they are miracle babies, they grow up believing it and one doesn’t need that even if it’s true. Disclaimer- I love my sons like crazy but I digress.
I find myself as I embark on singlehoodness again for the second time in my life, doing the same observation but of couples this time. I watch now in partnerless rather than childless wonder. I had an opportunity to observe the other evening at a concert we were at. Lost in reverie, I took notes as if I could prepare the menu for a next life partner. I will leave the names out. First, because the literary advice I received tells me I should and second, it gives me plausible denial should any of them be irked by my thoughts. What are the ingredients I thought, what makes it work for some and not for others? I watched a woman dancing with a man that I thought was her husband only to find he wasn’t. A case of mistaken identity by me, nothing sinister, but what a great time those two had dancing. Is that the trick then, to find someone with so much in common and sensibilities to match that instantaneous happiness prevails? Another couple I know and admire was there on a rare occasion together at this musical event, the reason none other than each has their own preference of social events. They navigate this well and for this dancing queen, the husband never fails to get up at the end of the evening to share a few last dances with her. This touches me every time. Is this what it takes, considerate compromises? For one of my favorite couples, distance makes the heart grow fonder for sure, as they actually live in different states. Could separate dwellings be the key? Perhaps it’s just a lit bit of everything.
The odds are just as stacked against me as before, if not even more. When one leaves a marriage in their 20s or 30s, it is likely you will marry again. Whether it is happily ever after or sadly for a few, the odds are clearly in your favor either way. They were for me and it lasted a good many years. But at 60 the reality is quite different. The odds are clearly stacked against the girls. We live longer and so the ratio is in not in our favor. But we each make the choice that best fits at the best time. We can do nothing more or nothing less.
The couple that for me was love at its best and simplest is no longer a couple now. She is a widow. He passed a few weeks ago. I am honored to be going to the memorial this weekend. I never get invited to those out here. I just don’t know enough people dying. It comes from not living as an adult in the same place you grew up. My sisters back East get to attend a lot more of them, weddings too.
They sat at their own little table at every gig of our mutual musical friends. I didn’t get to know them well unfortunately, but every time I saw them, my heart tugged a bit. They emanated pure love for each other and the music I thought. They sat together, ate together, left together. Didn’t have a need to flit about the room as some do. I cannot describe this aura around them well, but I saw it often. The last few times I saw him he had oxygen with him, yet their ritual, their sharing of their love for the music, each other and the time spent together in music prevailed no matter what the physical dictated. To this observer it was the loveliest description of a marriage I ever saw. I believe I even may have the dubious distinction of being the last one shushed by him at a gig we were at for talking too loudly. If so, I am honored. May you rest in peace, dear man, a life lived in love and music is the most wondrous life lived of all.