There are days when I am glad to be free. It is exciting to be able to remember who I was before I was married. To excavate the artist within, long buried, is at times nothing less than thrilling. Less exciting, but still nice is not finding tighty-whities in my laundry, because in three decades I never could figure out how to fold them right. It is also reassuring to know that no meat lurks in my freezer, since now only we vegetarians reside here. But truthfully, there are days when being divorced and fifty-four is a pretty lonely place to be. And so it is at Christmas time.
When our family was completely intact, we loved Christmas so! There was abundance, there was joy, there was stress too, but oh how we all loved red and green. My girls and I still do. We celebrate more simply these days and everything we touch and give and make is heartfelt. In the material world for us, "plenty" has made way for "precious"and that is a pretty good trade-off.
But there are those days, and today is one of them, when the stores are filled with older couples, heads together in thought - pondering slipper sizes or debating how many bags of pecans are needed for this year's pie. I turn away when I glimpse such intimacy or hear such sacred murmurings about the seemingly mundane. I walk on wistfully to the next isle, forgetting my oatmeal, forgetting for a minute why I was at the store in the first place.
Later, I struggle up the long courtyard carrying the boxed Little Tykes car for my granddaughter that I struggled to afford, and it is heavier than it should be. I come into an empty apartment, happy that I got this great toy for the little gumbygirl, and there is no one to ooh and ahhh over it with me.
I make a cup of coffee and sit down to feel sorry about this, and it occurs to me, that even when I was married, I rarely had someone to discuss slipper sizes with or even shop for pecans with, or at least I hadn't had for a very, very long time. And I realize that this loneliness I feel, is nothing new. I think back to the days, where my footsteps were as heavy as my heart, dragging around that vague sense of being alone in a marriage that lasted for decades.
As I sit staring at our newly decorated, scrawny silver tree there is a small rejoicing over the realization, that it is far, far better to be by myself, then to live with someone and be utterly and truly alone.
No great revelation here, I am sure, but sometimes things are so simple that we step right over them. So I raise my coffee mug to simplicity and the genuine; to my beautiful girls and the love I have all around from them and their own new families. Alone, I celebrate this quiet, blissful reality. Sitting humbly before this artificial tree - put together limb by limb with love and gratitude, I am at this minute, merrily single at fifty-four.