Written by Cathy
Not long ago I received a call from my best friend. She had just suffered the greatest loss imaginable, her husband had died suddenly. Her voice was soft with thousands of tears already shed. In the coming days there would be many more wetting her face as well as those of the many mourners who shared her grief. I realized that the “busyness” of the funeral plans somehow carried her through those painful days. But that busyness would dissipate, and she would be left with her emptiness. She and her husband had become, over the years, the best of companions. I was reminded of W. H. Auden’s “Funeral Blues”:
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought love would last forever: I was wrong.
As with so many of life’s tragedies, this one again presented me with a reflection of my own mortality and that of the one I so love. After nearly 40 years of marriage I could ill imagine life without my great love, my husband. Isn’t it strange that after so many years of practice, when we feel we have finally mastered this marriage dance, we are presented with the inevitable reality that we will one day, in all likelihood, be alone?
I am not an expert on marriage. I do know that of all the marriages I have been around, everyone seems to have had to work through the difficulties that come with two people coexisting, then adding children (God willing), then elderly parents, jobs, loss of jobs, faith crises, retirement, etc. But I have also recognized a truth. My partner, and I hope yours, too, even after all these years, looks at me through loving eyes. It is my constant in the turmoil of life. He never falters. It makes me smile, laugh even. I do not suffer many delusions. I am over 60, I have slowed down a bit, I have become slightly forgetful and soft in the middle. But it matters not. He still sees me through those loving eyes.
So that was an aspect of my dear friend’s loss that was most poignant for me. She would be loved still, by family and friends. She is, after all, a wonderful, devoted mother, a dependable, treasured community member, a soul full of faith. But she had lost the one person who would look at her as no one else ever would. She had lost her love, and those eyes that saw her one true self.
That is what I have learned about love and loss. My wish for you is that you feel the steady, unfaltering gaze of those eyes, those always loving eyes.