At the end of your life, a few will suffer. The earth spins, it moves. It doesn’t care who is sad for those who are left behind. Grief is one of those emotions that sticks to the attached while the unattached goes gloriously about their day.
A sticky attachment. And for all of this attachment, I think it is more than okay to ask some questions, “Do I want to be attached to this person or that person? Do I want to think about the possibility of their pain or problems? Am I selfish for not wanting this part of attachment?
“It is better to have loved and lost than to have never have loved at all,” or is it?
There was an older woman who used to live across the street from my childhood home. Mrs. Jacobs was in love with her husband and he with her for all of their years of marriage. She joked about how they stopped smoking together in the eighties, except he didn’t.
Mr. Jacobs went outside every night to smoke behind a tree. She never pointed it out to him. Ever. Not one word about it for more than twenty years. She laughed, “If he is going to work that hard to keep a secret from me and freeze his toosh off outside in the middle of January, he can have the cigar.”
Weeks before Mr. Jacobs died, he wouldn’t sleep on the gurney set up for him in the living room. Mrs. Jacobs heard such an abrupt commotion from the living room one evening, she thought that someone broke into the house. Before she reacted, she heard the door swing open, and then the the outline of his figure, “What are you doing walking in here, you know you’re supposed to sleep out there now.”
“I can’t sleep if I can’t hold you,” he said as he crawled into bed with her. She couldn’t help it, she melted into his arms.
He died on a late afternoon in their living room. The sirens rang, the ambulance arrived but it was to late, the cancer finally took him. She kissed his head, “I love you so much,” he looked up at her and closed his eyes for the last time.
I saw Ms. Jacobs’ light on late at night when I went for midnight strolls around the block stuck in insomnia. My insomnia and her grief, we were both awake.
I remember a visit with her a few years after his death, her eyes still filled with tears as she showed me his pictures. A young, good-looking man with lively eyes.
Ms. Jacobs since found a sweetheart, as she put it. Another man who lost his wife, two companions in their eighties who held hands and talked about the love they lost.
I think my Ms. Jacobs believed attachments were worth it, they stick for a reason.