A woman I’ve been acquainted with for about ten years finished up the dishes, put in a load of wash, sat down with her crossword puzzle and died.
She was 61 and hadn’t been sick.
Apparently, the only thing wrong with her was her attitude. When I asked her survivor husband what he thought had happened, he said “I think she just gave up.”
She may have been depressed, but that’s not how I would’ve described her. She was feisty and funny and cooked dinner every night. Unhappy, however? Maybe just unhappy.
Could being unhappy actually be the reason she died? I think there’s a good chance it was. Her dissatisfaction caused her to do things she shouldn’t have and not do the things she should. What I don’t understand is why she was dissatisfied. She was a good wife; they’d been together 40 years. She was a good mom; the boy’s a lawyer for Pete’s sake, with a beautiful doctor wife! But what about her own life?
What happened, I wonder.
I think it was exactly that… she gave up. First, she gave up working and then she gave up volunteering. She gave up traveling, and she even gave up shore vacations. Of course, that was after she gave up going to the country house. And she had given up gardening a long time ago.
These were her choices. Just like we all have. Every day.
I never realized it before, but for some of us “having a life” may actually be what saves it.
I’d like to draw a picture, but have no pencil, pen or ink
So there’ll be no lines or circles, just the thoughts I have to think
At the start there are his muscles that move him through the air
Flexing underneath a coat of chestnut colored hair
His eyes are like dark marbles staring back at you
And his ears twitch nervously as he gets a better view
He shakes his massive head and flicks his tail at flies
Pounds his hooves into the ground as round the ring he tries
To escape the man who’s got a whip that makes a cracking sound
(It won’t actually hurt him – it’s just to move him ‘round)
For today’s his day of training how to let a person ride
So the bridle is all ready and the saddle’s by his side
Freedom was much better and it’s there he’d like to stay
Running with the mustangs just like yesterday
He’ll have a different life now and will carry folks, of course
It’s not much of a drawing, just a picture of a horse.
I stood looking, hands hanging down
Not knowing how to overcome the animosity within.
Passion so deep – made of pure pain – rises to be heard, but is mute.
Voice is useless, baseless noise and the broken sounds fall on defensive guilt.
The wounded heart retreats.
But the light still streaks through crevices of the mind,
Streaming into the little places of insight.
Are the shadows too large for the tiny spark?
Give me something to burn and I will lift the veil.
Show me the keystone and I will tumble the tower.
The destruction cannot be won.
Collapse will begin when the conspiracy fails.
All truth becomes experience.
Today used to be my wedding anniversary. What once was a significant date with happy memories attached is now just another number on the calendar. It was a gradual erosion. A long time ago, there were celebrations and gifts…then cards and flowers…then dinners and pleasantries. Now there is silence.
As the day began, I realized it would have been 16 years. But it isn’t. It’s no longer a marker of anything special.
Like a sand castle, time was spent building, constructing a place… with towers and spires… and bridges. A little more here, a little smoothed-over there. With each addition, it grew to something recognizable. A moat was dug for protection from the encroaching sea. The sun shone on the glistening grains and it was good. Not Cinderella’s castle, but a fortress with flags flying nonetheless.
Then the tide turned. At first, just small damage was done to the perimeter. Then wave after wave assaulted the structure. The intrusion ate at the foundation until the crumbling began. One wall at a time, it slipped away. Eventually, as always, the big breaker came. Crashing too close, it overwhelmed the turrets and the last defenses. When the water receded, the castle was gone. No one walking past would ever know what had been.
I thought I would be sentimental about it all. But I’m not. It was created, it stood tall, it washed away. Maybe it’s because it was a slow decline. Maybe it’s because a part of me knew all along it was temporary… like all things. And now, surveying the landscape, I’m just a witness. I don’t regret the effort I put in. It was time well spent while the sun was warm. I don’t curse the forces of nature that swept it away. It’s inevitable. Things change. People change.
What remains… or what has been re-created…is the beauty of a pristine beach as far as the eye can see.