Etherian asked me about loneliness. It defines my life, but not in the way one might think. Early on, after I came to understand what I was, every dislocation was wrenching and death came to take on an aura of a prize that I had been deliberately denied. I have never had children, but I raised many and to have to leave them… to this day that is the single most difficult act I have ever committed. So, the short answer is yes, I am terribly lonely.

Despite this, loneliness does not cripple me. I know that death stalks every relationship, that friendships are ephemeral, but I am blessed as well: I have had so many friends, so many interesting people in my life that I have to count the balance as in my favor. I met Samuel Langhorne Clemens. He took my hand and smiled when I offered up the notion that his writing was timeless and he said, “Perhaps it is, my dear. Unfortunately, I am not,” and he chuckled. I remember his scent and the twinkle in his eye, thirty seconds of time locked forever in the vault of my treasured memories. Who is there living today that can recall that day? (And before anyone asks, I have just described the entire encounter- he was a magnificent man.)

There is a secret inside me that aches to be told, to be shared with people who, when they look upon me, see an object of adoration, a partner in their journey of life, someone they love. I have had that precisely four times in my long life, each time an all too brief episode of delirious joy, followed swiftly by devastation. Each time I swore I would never again allow myself to become so delusional as to love anyone. The interludes between those times grew longer, but I am afraid I crave the wholeness that is part of being in a loving relationship and I will stumble again, and again I will weep for a century when my nemesis, time, steals away all I hold precious.

I loved them, and more important, they loved me. Rufus, who swore he only learned to love a woman in my arms. Robert, who gave up the only chance any mortal has for immortality to be true to his love for me. Genevieve… sweet, gentle, laughing Genevieve with her emerald eyes and golden hair. You saw right through me, so perceptive and so warm. And Jeremy. Good God, Jeremy, I still weep for you. So wise, and strong, and gentle, and firm… Jeremy, if the world desired a King they could have found no better than you. So desperately I tried not to love you, but you were in my soul, and you are there still. I stayed with you to the bitter end though you tried to send me away. You gasped your final breaths cradled in my arms, my tears the final blessing to fall upon your brow, and you told me you were immortal now, for I would always remember you. And your words were so true. I remember the promise I made you and here today, this day, I honor it again- you will never truly die, my love. There will be others, but never another Jeremy, or Genevieve, or Robert, or Rufus…

Loneliness. Loren was right: you people cannot truly fathom loneliness. Be thankful for that.

2 Responses to “Loneliness”

  1. Thank you for replying. Loneliness has always been a fear of mine and I wept when I read this. The fact that you have survived such heartache, though, gives me strength. I think that what I admire most is that instead of hiding away from the world, in fear, you step out each day and take the risk of living. Again, thank you for sharing, because in doing so, you are helping in so many ways.

  2. The above comment was first posted on 07/29/2003 before being re-posted here today.