Margaret came into my work today looking for help. It wasn't going to be difficult to do what she needed, but I had to make a phone call to get it done. She apologized for the inconvenience, and as I put the phone to my ear, I told her I was sure she had more than enough going on in her life ... let me try to make something easier. That's when she told me I didn't know the half of it, so I decided to hang up the phone and ask for the story.
She said that her significant other had died two years ago, and she just couldn't move forward. In fact, she had just come from her beloved's grave - that's what she called him throughout our talk, her beloved Bobby. As she started to cry, she looked up at the ceiling saying, "not now, Margaret, not now." She said she was trying to sell their condo, but couldn't find anyone who would come close to the asking price. Her health isn't good and she needs to sell it to take care of a variety of issues. In fact, she told me that she was currently dealing with a urinary tract infection and had a hard time being able to afford the medicine.
But every other thought she uttered kept bringing her back to her beloved. She told me that they had had 22 years together, a true love affair. One where he showed her daily how much he loved her and needed her. She said he was quite romantic, with a smile that stopped her tears instantly. She had been married before him for 25 years to a good man, but she said that was a marriage. Not what she had with Bobby. She said that her friends would ask her, how could he die and leave you ... you two were so in love. Bobby was 89 when he died, she 10 years his junior.
Eventually, there was a point in the conversation where it felt ok to make the call and get her situation resolved. She thanked me immensely and rising to leave, took my hand in hers to say goodbye. Her hands were so soft. I thanked her for telling me her story, for telling me about Bobby and their love. I told her that some people never get to experience such joy in their lives with someone who loves them completely, let alone have that for 22 years. She smiled and left. Then I went to the bathroom and wept. I cried for Margaret, for my mother-in-law, for all the Margarets and their male analogs I've met in the last year, for love and loss and the unknown.