In good and bad, our time is limited

I believe in love: puppy — true — at first sight — unrequited — lorn. I believe if you are in a committed relationship with someone and things go bad, there are three options; suck it up and live with it, work on it, or leave.

While I’m not a big proponent of divorce, even though I have been divorced myself, I think there are times where it is in the best interest of all parties concerned to end the relationship. Life is too short to be miserable, and if you cannot, or will not, work on the marriage to make it better, it’s best to leave it behind.

But this isn’t about bad marriages. This is about wonderful, long-lasting, lifetime marriages; those that endure through the bad times, those that grow and flourish throughout the years; those where you can no longer imagine being without your partner. I have seen marriages where the couple fought almost constantly, but near the end of their lives, became loving and caring of their partners, forgiving all the past hurts. I have been privy to seeing several marriages where the partners have been “in love” for decades, never losing their delight in being together, and those couples are a joy to know. Sure they’ve had their rough spots with arguments over finances, or the kids, or how to spend their vacations. But in the end, they work it out.

What breaks my heart, however, is when one partner passes away, which inevitably happens, and the remaining partner does not know how to live life alone. “How am I going to live without her (or him)?” Indeed, how do you live a solitary life when you have shared 30, 40 or 50 years or more with another? I have no answers, but I have some observations.

Oftentimes guilt is a prominent player in grief: going over and over all the things you should have done, could have done, or beating yourself up for things you said and did that weren’t loving or kind. Apologizing to a picture on the wall, or an empty bed doesn’t bring much comfort. Most of us wouldn’t dream of being rude or nasty to an acquaintance, but do we give our spouse the same consideration?

At some point in our life we must have felt enough for that person to promise to love and cherish. Be kind. Consider for a moment, if you were unaware that you would lose that person in the next five minutes, would you regret the last thing you said or did? Life is finite and when it is over, you can’t take it back.

I know a dear older couple who are going through a possible separation at this time. She lies comatose in the hospital, he sitting by her side, wondering how he is going to live without her should she not make it. They have had a good marriage, more than fifty years together. I don’t know if he will feel guilt, but he will certainly feel loss. And yet, he will most likely survive this tragedy. He will need friends to sit with him, or listen to him reminisce and certainly someone to shed tears with him. He will need to share some of the details of his life with the woman he loved.

In the grand scheme of things, we only have moments together. Make the most of them.

Robyn Near is a Ripley resident. Send comments to