My aunt Gertrude is a rare gem. She remains unmarried till this day, and has no desire to do so even though she is exiting the prime of her life in a few months’ time. I asked her once whether she ever contemplated being alone during her twilight years, without the comforting companionship of a husband or the dutiful doting by her children.
She looked straight at me in a gaze that at once appeared as if she was reaching deep into the recesses of her being.
She spoke in a barely audible whisper that she once had such a dream as I mentioned, but no longer. I was gripped with a curiosity that was tinged with a certain sadness, as I detected that within her voice and readily embraced it as my own in empathy and identification with this woman whom I love.
She started tearing, and continued slowly the sad poetry that had haunted her for the past decade. When she was younger, just out of college, my aunt was engaged to a gentleman from Chicago, by the name of Mollier. He was a dealer in antiques, and had a thriving business by the time he became acquainted with my aunt Gertrude.
They were a loving couple, always together, engaged in frequent intimate conversations and shared many common interests and tender moments. He was the man that my aunt was destined to marry, and to love and hold till eternity.
Alas, one evening as he was making the trip home from California, he ran into a road accident and was tragically killed. My aunt did not receive the call from the coroners till a day later, after they had verified his identity and checked through their databases. Her life there and then was thrown into disarray.
She left her newly-begun job, and hid in her parents’ home for the next five years. She had to learn how to live again. As she conveyed these to me, it was not her who sobbed and cried. It was me, one still young and too tender to know just what it meant and how she must have felt.
She told me the pain that she carried within her heart, and how that very moment she had died to her own ambitions, plans, and sensitivity.
Her life as she knew it, was over. She had died with him. I learned from her that day what courage meant, and how with silent purpose and prayer, one can emerge from a forest of lost dreams and darkened hope still intact, at least in person. I also learned just how great love can really be, and what lovers go through each time their love disappears, even for a moment on an errand.
Aunt Gertrude will never marry. She will live out the rest of her days as a spinster, having come so close to living her life with the man she truly loved and losing it all at once.
She will still go about her days bustling about in a cheery manner, loving her nephews and nieces, tending to their moments of despair and immature concerns. She now lives outside herself; a woman constantly challenging herself to focus her love on others in order not to drown in the despair of her own unfulfilled love. She is a beacon of light and hope to us all in the family, and she is what makes us strong and secure.
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