Wednesday, 31 July 2013
Times Do Change
By Brenda Verbeck Mortensen
In 1973 I entered my graduate program at Yale University. At that time I lived with my husband of almost 20 years, three children, two dogs and three cats; approximately a one-and-a-half-hour drive from New Haven, each way – door to door.
It didn’t matter which route I took. It was always one-and-one-half hours. So given that my husband’s place of work was six minutes from our house and the children’s ages then were 10, 12 and 16, I had arranged to stay overnight on Tuesdays.
I stayed with a young woman in my program who had a small apartment right off campus. This gave me a whole chunk of time to spend in the library which was open until midnight. I arranged my classes for Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.
One Tuesday evening, my young friend was out of town. She left me her key and there I was, ALONE. Having been married at 18 and not having lived on my own prior to marriage, this was unique. I was stunned and delighted to realize that for the first time in my life, NO ONE knew exactly how I would be spending my time.
Even though I’d just be having a bite to eat and heading for the library, it was heady stuff. It was a wow! And I thought, “No one anywhere knows where I am and what I’m doing.”
Flash forward to yesterday, late afternoon. After driving across the state of Florida from Tampa to St. Augustine and unloading the car, I found a half empty and delightfully chilled bottle of sauvignon blanc in the refrigerator, poured myself a glass and planted me out in the lanai.
After my usual feeling of, “I need to call my mother and let her know I arrived safely,” had passed, (a continuing although irrational need given that she died several years ago), the lonliness descended.
I really do have a good life but despite a wonderful family, caring friends, keeping busy, traveling and being engaged in all manner of things, that empty chair, especially when I first walk in, is like a knife in my heart.
And truly, no matter how busy you are, if you are a widow or a widower and even though you enjoy solitude, you know that when all is said and done there are some very lonely moments.
And so I sat there feeling somewhat sad and guess what I was thinking? “No one anywhere knows where I am and what I’m doing.”
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