Facing the reality of ageing alone

So we made a fundamental mistake, he and I; and when he knew he was dying it was far too late to do anything about it.

This mistake was made in a kind of gradual fashion, without our being actually aware of it – taking years for the pair of us to fully implement it in our casual, unthinking way.


At the start of our being two halves of the one whole, there was a smallish group of couples that we saw as our good friends. We even occasionally gave parties; especially after he’d built us a house on an island, to which everyone we knew wanted to come. Life was pleasant when we had some good friends and many nice acquaintances, and we thought everything was fine.

It was all right. Then.

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As the years passed, the smallish group began to drift apart. One couple split and went their separate ways; and the man fairly quickly took up with a new lady who wanted nothing to do with his erstwhile friends (and who could blame her, really?!). One couple went to another continent, hoping to find work for both, with mixed results. A third couple went to a different continent in pursuit of the grandiose ambitions of the successful businesswoman of a wife.

And were we upset by this continental drift?

We were not. I have to admit it: we didn’t give a rat’s arse.

Because we didn’t think about what was going on. As to why we didn’t, that’s simple: we had by then become so totally immersed in each other that the peregrinations of the few who had made up our friendly circle had become as if nothing. We told them goodbye, and off they went without a backwards glance, and we didn’t care. They were full of excitement about their futures, and we were full of excitement about our continuing life together, in which we saw every day as fun.

I have no explanation for this; I can’t justify it as being a normal or sensible way to be because it was neither. Why in the name of all the gods did we not stop and ask each other “Are we being wise in shucking off everyone else without a second thought?” Or perhaps, “Are we always going to be sufficient for each other?” – although the latter question would never in a million years, have crossed our minds, and never once did.

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Unhappily, neither did the former. And then it was time. Time to die. Time to weep forever – tears in the rain. There were many years during which I thought I could never become a human being again. But I did. It happens.

And what of my infrastructure of family and friends?

There isn’t one. My family is scattered around the Australian coastline, all three members. Of my dearest friends, one couple lives on the southern coast of Victoria, and one has gone back to England. I am incredibly lucky to have found a friend from my younger days again; but as she’s still working, she’s not exactly someone to have a coffee with whenever.

Not to put too fine a point on it, I am alone. Three and a half years after I lost my other half, I lost my most-loved sister, too. But if there’s anything good to be found, it’s that at the time of my beloved husband’s dying, none of the three of us knew she would be gone, too, ere long.

If he’d known that, he could never have gone in any peace at all.

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He died happy that she would be there to look after me.

Do you value your network of friends and family enough? 

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