“Did he think I ought to be out in the world, prowling around for another partner? Even if I wanted to—and I don’t—I couldn’t face all the talking. The past is not as interesting to me now as it was when I was young, and it would come up. There’s nothing I want to relive—certainly not youth—and as for what’s to come, I’m in no hurry. I watch my dogs. They throw themselves into everything they do; even their sleeping is wholehearted. They aren’t waiting for a better tomorrow, or looking back at their glory days. Following their example, I’m trying to stick to the present. I’m not stranded here, I know where I’ve been; I can conjure up details of old haunts, even former states of mind.”— A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas
. . . a banner year. No one in the world was untouched by the pandemic and political tension. Now 2021, the world is not a safer place, although we look forward with hope. Unable to foresee the future, I choose to live in the present.
A good friend died suddenly, too young, leaving a widow who cannot yet use the “d” word. Outgoing, social, she finds little comfort via Zoom. Anyone who has journeyed the death of a beloved can attest to the healing property of community. Following my father’s death, the evenings spent with family and friends, sharing memories, sitting in silence, drinking his favored Black Cows, eased our pain.
What a surprise when, within a few days, the widow received an invitation to OurTime, an online dating app. I tried to imagine how I would feel if that ad popped up in my in-box as I was trying to unscramble the chaos following the death of my spouse. Angry? Sad? Hurt? Resentful? Whatever the response, it would not be positive.
My friend may or may not eventually look for another partner. She will definitely be out with her friends once we overcome this pandemic.
I choose the present
Me, I’m with Abigail Thomas. People talk a lot about the past while getting acquainted. Our history defines us. But all that talking would be tiresome. And why, as my mother used to say, “wish your life away”, waiting for some unpredictable future while squandering the present? The comfort of a long relationship is in the shared history that doesn’t have to be rehashed; the history that flavors the present and points to the future.
I observe my dog Luna, who responds instantly and appropriately to the moment. Like a dog, I choose the present.