She looked at me and said, “Aren’t you worried that you won’t meet someone special? Now that you’re alone, that you will die without ever feeling like you truly loved?”
To my single and divorced readers: Unclench your fist. I did not clock her, tempted as I was. Instead, I gave myself a moment.
I thought of being met at an airport with eyes that were only for me, despite the willowy model type who sashayed off the airplane before me. And of the night that ensued, with champagne under a calm Southern sky filled with stars.
I remembered staying up for most of the night with my youngest when, in his early years, he had repeated staph infections. I thought of rubbing his back and holding his hand when it was hard for him to sleep, singing him back into slumber.
I recalled walking with my head held high, next to my eldest, even after he had done a really stupid thing. I remember thinking that if I could not stand by him in this moment, when his classmates certainly couldn’t be expected to, then no one could. And I thought, this is what unconditional love feels like—and who knew it could be so mixed with fury and disappointment?
I thought of picnics on the floor in the middle of winter. An anniversary dinner at a French restaurant that would wow even the most discerning foodie. And yet another anniversary evening at my kitchen island with McDonald’s strewn between us as the children giggled and talked loudly.
I thought of multiple friends at multiple times in our lives–exchanging the hugs, words of support, tears and laughter necessary to get us through whatever trial or adventure we were facing. Friends rock those 1 a.m. talks like no other.
I thought of arriving at my hotel at the beginning of a business trip, with—surprise–flowers awaiting me in my hotel room. I recalled whispered pillow talk and arguments where I wondered if one of us walked out the door, what would happen next.
But most of all, and this may sound odd, I thought of my own steadfast love. I thought of how far I have come over the past six years since my divorce. I thought of chasms crossed on what at times felt like a wobbly rope bridge–with no one’s hand to hold onto, just my own inner strength and a whispered prayer.
I have known and shown true love in so many ways in my lifetime. But she—my questioner–did not need to know all that. I looked at her, smiled, and answered a simple no. “No. No, I do not worry about feeling like I never truly loved.”
It was really all she needed to know.
The rest is mine.