I’ve driven past this little beach every morning for the past fifteen years and for many years I looked out for an elderly couple who came to Williams Bay for their early morning dip in the sea. They caught my eye a long time ago for one simple reason, the man’s kindness. It was clear that his wife had difficulty walking on her own. Driving past them day after day, I caught glimpses of their at-the-beach routine. I’d see him gently lift her out of the car and steady her on her feet. Facing her, he’d hold her by both arms, his hands under her elbows, and guide her as she awkwardly walked through the car park, onto the sand and into the water. Once thigh deep in the calm blue water, never once letting go of her arm, and he would softly splash water over her body. Delight was always the expression on her face. When their time in the water was over he would guide her back to the car just as gently as before, never showing any sign of impatience or frustration. He would seat her in the car and standing next to the open car door, would dry her hair, dress her in a dry gown, put her slippers on her feet and brush her hair. Her eyes never left his face as he did these small tasks.
The romantic in me often wondered about that couple. I wanted to know what had happened to her, where they lived, and if they had any children. But I never stopped at the beach to talk to them, fearing perhaps that the ‘magic’ would disappear. Four years ago I stopped seeing them at the beach but I haven’t forgotten them or his devotion to her. The kindness, compassion, love and gratitude I read on their faces and in the language of their bodies gave me hope that true companionship is possible.
My boyfriend and I ended our relationship on Sunday. It wasn’t anyone’s fault.
I’m trying really hard to take my own advice and not look at this as a failure on my part, and I know all the rules to follow and the ‘right’ things to say at this point. But to tell you the truth, I’m more than a little afraid. We started going out when I was still drinking and he was 100% supportive when I quit a year later. There is a lot of love, respect and mutual affection between us but in this case it’s not enough. We are at different places in our lives and having been together for two years it is clear that we are not on the same path. We both agreed it is better that we end it now before we have a chance to really hurt each other.
I’m really sad about it and every now and then I get that heart crushing, sinking feeling in my stomach and my breath is caught. I’m on my own. Again. I thought about that elderly couple a lot today, wondering if I would ever have a relationship with someone I can grow old with. I have to keep reminding myself that I’ll be okay and that perhaps it’s time for me to learn how to be on my own and not be scared of being alone. I know that I want to share my life with someone, but perhaps now is not the time and I have some homework to do.