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More on Loneliness–Ruth

Sometimes I’m so lonely. I think we all are, especially at this just-past-the middle stage of life, when we’ve all had a reminder or so that loneliness is our one true companion. After the ruined marriages, the disappointments, the careers that didn’t quite live up to the hype, there it is, loyal and steady, growing a little thick around the middle, just like me. I get routine confirmation that I have only myself to rely on; I feel it in the pit of my stomach and in my shoulders, when it’s been too long between hugs.

At first I didn’t really notice it creeping up on me. Then I started to run across it more often as I edged towards 50. That’s when I finally had to admit that I really didn’t know where I was going, anymore. I had to wonder if I ever did? But I seem to remember “knowing” so clearly at one time, long ago.

And you, Mom? You knew that loneliness at such an early age. But you’ve never complained about it, not when Grandma was sick, not when you were nursing Dad, or after he died, or when your friends started to move away to go live with their children. Even now you won’t let the word take hold in the room. You smash it away like a tennis pro. “I don’t have to be lonely.” For you, that’s a testament to your mind, your will, your control over your world. It’s an article of faith. And why should you let it in? There’s nothing to be gained by it now.

Mom, I thought you’d always be here for me. That’s silly I know. Grandma died, Dad died, I knew you’d have your time. I was afraid you’d take me over if I let you in. You were so much fiercer than I. I had to be different, modern, I wanted justice, reason, but I learned from you the hard way—through sarcasm and anger. When I wanted to be free of harsh judgment I became a judge, a critic. I had to stay away from you and the rest of my family who knew too much, too old, too scary about another world—a world without choices.

But now I hear you, I want to hear you. You have left your marks on me, good and bad. I’m already caught.