The Gift Unwanted

I find myself in an ironic, conflicted state of mind. Despite the absence of sex and genuine affection, I liked being married to my wife. The status quo was OK.  I would have continued on for years in this state of —as Werner would say—tranquillized obliviousness.  Life had a routine, a comfortable sort of familiarity, its own petty pace.  It was almost like having a home.  Maybe I just liked being married.  As my wife let me know, married men live longer.

Now, on my own, my future is entirely in my hands.  Of course it always was. I let a relationship substitute for a future.  Having the possibility of creating a future for myself that wasn’t going to happen is a gift my wife gave me.  I didn’t want it, fought against it, suffered because of it.  I harbor complex emotions about her because of what she did. Instead I should simply be grateful.

Months ago I wrote in this chronicle about my gratitude to her for the many things in my life made possible by our relationship.  Her closest friend harshly criticized me for being “back-handed.”  That wasn’t my intention.  She opened the door to my near entire experience of California.  She introduced me to my best friend.  She re-introduced me to the joys of swimming in the Bay.  She initiated our adoption of a dog.  I’m even mostly vegan because of Brenda’s diet.

In the movie Beyond Rangoon, a Buddhist from Burma explains to a visiting American, “We are taught that suffering is the one promise life always keeps. So that if happiness comes we know it is a precious gift, which is ours only for a brief time.”

My happiness with my wife was a precious gift—which was ours only for a brief time. Being gone, the future is mine to write.


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