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.