Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Being Alone Can Be Scary as Hell

This past August, my grandfather passed away. I was fortunate enough, a month earlier, to spend his 80th birthday with him at a surprise party planned by my aunt. About 100 of his family and friends showed up for the occasion.

The next day, I was at his house, and he kept talking about how normally during the days it was just him and his dog, Buddy, a Doberman the size of a small horse. My granddaddy’s second wife passed away a few years earlier from breast cancer, and progressed macular degeneration left him legally blind and unable to drive for the past decade. He lived with my aunt and uncle, who both worked full-time, 9-5 jobs, so he was often alone during the day, except for friends that stopped by for lunch on occasion.

He must have commented that he’s alone a lot at least five times during my visit. And it suddenly hit me – my 80-year-old grandfather is afraid of the same thing I am as a single 27-year-old. Being alone.

With each engagement and wedding, I’m elated for my friends, but also reminded that I’m nowhere near that milestone. And with each passing year, I wonder if it’s ever in the cards for me.

But, my grandfather taught me an important lesson before he died. This thing I’ve placed on a pedestal, and think will bring me life-long companionship, is fleeting. Marriage can end in divorce, or in my grandfather’s case with his second wife, death. As with everything in life, there are never any guarantees.

I write this not to come across as a crass, bitter bitch, or give off the notion that I no longer believe in love and finding a soul mate. Quite the contrary.

It’s a reminder that this fear of being alone can persist no matter what the circumstances. A reminder to be thankful for what I do have, instead of focusing on what I don’t. A reminder to tell those in my life I love them, and maybe call or write them more frequently so they’re aware how much they mean to me.

My aunt said that as she held my granddaddy’s hand while he drew his last breaths, he seemed at peace. I hope he passed from the physical world no longer fearful of being alone, but thinking of all the people he had impacted throughout his life. Those 100 people at his surprise party were just a small percentage, I'm sure.

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