A very close friend of mine lost his partner of 46 years, almost a year ago. His grief and sorrow has been surprising for him, only because of its depth, its endurance and its ability to diminish him both physically and emotionally.
The following are a few of the quotes from the emails in which he shared his feelings with me:
"At different times and sometimes at all times, throughout our many years together, she was my spouse, my lover, my parent and my child. I loved her deeply and on a level that transcended the usually held rituals and observances of such a relationship. She inspired me, and helped me become who I am today."
"She was stoic and fearless had immense courage throughout all the time I knew her. She never fussed or worried about this or that bad thing happening and when it did she took it in her stride. I will be eternally grateful that in the depths of her illness I was able to tell her how proud I was of the way she was dealing with it. And she replied that she was pleased I was proud."
"But generally, I do feel diminished. I’ve come to the belief that we are somehow diminished, less than what we were before, when we lose someone close and cherished who’s been at our side for 46 years. I had my own notion of grief. I thought it was the sad time that followed the loss of someone you love and you had to push through it – to get to the other side. But I’ve learned that there is no “other side”. There is no pushing through. But rather, there is absorption, adjustment and acceptance. I’m finding that grief is not something you complete, but rather you endure. It’s not a task to finish and then “move on”. A year on and I still miss her dreadfully. After so many years, romance turns into partnership and it’s that which is missed most. I can always find someone to do something with but I have no-one to do nothing with!"
It was that last line that inspired me to write this article and to wonder if maybe we need a new search category on our soul mate search websites. How could we create parameters to allow one to determine if we would be comfortable with another human, while doing nothing? We all say we like to walk on the beach in the moonlight in a filmy dress with our hair flowing... barefoot, of course. We discuss sports teams we like or dislike, foods we will eat or not eat, politics, religion, favourite colours... the list is endless.
It reminds me of The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer:
It doesn't interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting
your heart's longing.
It doesn't interest me how old you are.
I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream,
for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon.
I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow,
if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shrivelled
and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own,
without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own;
if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us
to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true.
I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself.
If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day.
And if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still
stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, 'Yes.'
It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair,
weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and
if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
So the message to my friend is "I wish I could wave my magic wand and your sorrow would dissipate and yet to do that would be to dissipate the joys as well. You are so fortunate to have been able to spend 46 years with a soul mate of such high calibre; so many people are still searching for a special person who will make their spirit sing."
To those of you reading this I have this advice: whether you are starting a search or restarting a search take some time, when on a date, to deliberately have time to do nothing and see how you feel. Are the silences awkward and uncomfortable? Do you have to be talking and engaged at all times?
I am fortunate enough to have found my spouse through an online dating site almost 18 years ago and I am happy to say that there is no one that I would rather "do nothing" with and that is a gift indeed.
Author: Emma JC
A child of the 60’s who has had a varied an interesting life.