Married for 50 years. USA
While contemplating a small box of chocolates and the hip: waist ratio consequences at LAX, an elderly woman tripped beside me. After helping her up and chatting for a few moments I learnt she’s been married for 50 years. (!)
I asked: how does anyone stay married for 50 years? She responded with an old cliché and 4 words: Marry your best friend.
“Your best friend will never walk out on you or leave you because your looks have faded: that’s not what they came for or the reason they stayed. Your best friend only wants whats best for you and will be devastated without you.” She then asked me “Do you have a friend that makes you light up when you see them? A friend that makes every problem in the world seem insignificant and small? A friend whose smile melts your heart? A friend whose distance makes your heart feel heavy, you wish you had them around to make you feel alive? A friend who makes you laugh so hard even in a bad mood? This is who you should be with. I am. That’s how you stay married for 50 years.”
“Are these rhetorical questions or are you asking me? I asked. She smiled. “You. You seem heartbroken dear, whats wrong? I replied I was trying to get home earlier, I wanted to see my dog who was ill and get away from the US for a while to rethink some things and reevaluate life.
She replied, “You don’t need to leave the US to think about life. You are running away. Let me guess, from a boy? You will never achieve anything if you run, especially to an airport to fly thousands of miles away. He will be here and you will be there. I replied, “I am pretty sure that’s what he wants. But really, it’s not all about a boy.” She put her hand on my shoulder and said, “Leave, but know the further you go the more room you are giving him to stay distant. You allow him to be aloof because you keep leaving. He probably thinks if you were together you’d do what you always do – leave.” She laughed at her own insights not realising how right she really is about me always leaving.
My Qantas flight was called on the speakers – LAX to SYD. I wished her all the very best and expressed my admiration of her relationship she has kept since she was 16. She said goodbye and I ran away with her four words of advice. I promised myself one day I would remember them.
The Glass if Half Empty. Australia
Three days after arriving home in Australia, my beloved Maltese Terrier died. He was 14 and a half years old. His health declined rapidly but he was waiting for something, it seemed. Every day my mother would tell him I would be home in a few days. Within hours of my return his rapid declined worsened. A quick death brought him sweet relief from the insufferable pain of cancer. I buried him as if he was Tutankhamen with his lead to go for walks, his blanket to be reminded of home, his jacket to stay warm and a message from me saying thank you – thank you for being our pet, for loving us unconditionally, for curling up at my feet when I studied and couldn’t play, for making walks adventurous and fun, for not snoring when he slept on my pillow and playfully licking my face to say hello after long absences.
From his long life and quick death I learnt a valuable lesson. You cannot possess: only love. You cannot demand: only hope. While I am devastated he is no longer here to take on mini adventurers discovering local flora and parks and watch him sniff every atom between here and there, I take comfort in the four words he taught me the meaning of: Seek with joyful curiosity. While I may not have a best friend to spend 50 years with, I just lost a best friend I spent the last 15 with. Life is really short. This Christmas, tell everyone you love them.
Has anyone given you any advice lately? (Welcome or unwelcome)