Love – and the People Who Aren’t Here

by Daniel Brenton on January 14, 2009

in Healing


    A reflection on Love, Family, closure, and the loose ends that Life can leave untied.

Marilyn, Bogie, and Lauren

Start: Date night.

My wife fresh from the salon, dolled up, sporting her red ensemble. A dinner at the steakhouse at a casino close to our home, the best restaurant in the house.

The restaurant had been recently given a subtle makeover and some new touches stood out. We were seated at a booth with a striking black and white celebrity photograph from the ’50′s: Lauren Bacall, Arthur Miller, a man turned away from the camera who may or may not have been Peter Lawford, and in the center, Marilyn Monroe.

My wife was radiant, and felt suitably indulged. The salad and soup course were very good, and the entrees themselves were excellent. Our conversation became more sparse as we enjoyed meals so large that half of them both would go home in a box. Paradoxically I was suddenly struck with a touch of emptiness.

I was here with my wife of nearly sixteen years, but otherwise, we were alone.

I twisted around to take in the celebrities in the photo over us again — Marilyn seemed openly, truly happy, laughing a laugh without a trace of self-consciousness that surprised me in how much it resembled my mother’s.

I found myself thinking about the people who weren’t here, who would be pleased our marriage had been as successful as it had, people I would be proud to show this to. My father’s mother, who lived to ninety, my mother’s sister, my parents. All passed, all taken.

This was not a great surprise with my mother — she had been dealing with several chronic illnesses that finally took their toll and claimed her just as she was entering her sixth decade. My father’s passing though, was a surprise to everyone. We had fully expected him to make it into his eighties or further, but was only in his seventies when an aneurism quickly took him.

Death had not just taken most of the older generations of my family, but had cheated me of something else. It had cheated me of finding common ground with a grandmother who never really understood me. It had cheated me out of developing an equitable relationship with my parents, a relationship where the buried and fossilized issues of my childhood and youth could be unearthed and laid bare under the glaring sunlight of Truth. To finally be scattered by a healing wind of absolution, to leave fertile soil where trust and an uncompromised love could finally, authentically be sown and nurtured.

A moment of quiet, rueful grief, a moment of mourning for the bonds of love that never came to be.

No, not in this lifetime.

And yet … and yet. The words of Gibran came back to me: You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore. You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days. Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.

Much later at home that evening I discovered these were Gibran’s words on marriage. And, yes, every family is a marriage, every family bound to each other through Love, Regret, Guilt, Shame, or any other shackle you care to imagine.

This is a certainty to me: the relationships persist, even after death.

Someday, perhaps, in some lifetime, some different existence, the wounds of this one might be finally healed.

MarilynMindful of the black and white photo of Marilyn and her attending celebrities, standing in the spotlight, center stage before the whole world — a woman who died a troubled death alone and broken — we left the restaurant and made our way home.

Perhaps, someday, her wounds would be healed as well.

For now, though, for my wife and myself, there was love enough.

I could close this with some solemn, soothing words on the people who aren’t here in your life, because you must have them.

I could close this with some exposition on the need to find resolution in relationships, the importance of authenticity, of honesty with self and others, of God’s omniscience and Infinite Love for us despite all He/She/It clearly sees.

But I won’t.

 

Copyright © 2009, by Daniel Brenton. All Rights Reserved.

End

Dragos Roua January 15, 2009 at 11:45 am

I really, really enjoyed your post. Words from the heart always find their way out and carry your message. Thank you :-)

Cricket January 16, 2009 at 6:31 pm

What a beautiful post. You are so right that in each of us words were never spoken by those in which we loved. Words were never spoken to those in which we wanted to love.

You sound like you have a solid relationship with your wife. Cherish this. In the meantime, you can hold onto the thought of one day meeting up again with those that you loved and never got to know.

Marianna Paulson May 18, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Very beautifully written, Daniel.

Both my parents died too early; the longevity genes of their parents consumed by cancer and stroke…with what, I am convinced, was a major push from stress.

Forgiveness has finally come, long after their deaths. Somehow, somewhere and on some level, I think they know. I hope so.

As time goes by and you and your wife continue to celebrate your lives together, I wonder who will grace your table?

Sandi Amorim February 25, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Daniel,
I read this while on vacation in Maui, a paradise on earth. And yet, it’s been a couple of hours since my husband and I quarrelled. Reading your post right now was just the thing to remind me of what’s important.

Thank you.
Sandi Amorim recently posted … Misadventures on the Road to HanaMy Profile

Daniel Brenton February 25, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Sandi –

I think we can count the people who are willing to work through issues with us as the ones who really do love us. When we have these in our lives (I certainly do), we can consider ourselves blessed (which I certainly am.).

Thanks for the comment.

– Daniel

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