I’ve lived long enough to see the wheels of fortune spin for people and then spin again. At least one acquaintance has lost a spouse and another has lost a child. I can only begin to imagine how painful that must be.
I’m sure both those people went through the unfortunate experience of “fairweather friends”– those people who disappeared on them because they couldn’t cope with facing their pain. At least, though, their grief is accepted, even valorized. It has been hard not to feel, in the face of the public sympathy they have received, the invisibility of my losses.
In all the years I was struggling with accepting that I wouldn’t have children and may not get married, I’ve only received one expression of “I’m sorry,” as in, I’m sorry that you missed having children. I suppose I can’t blame anyone for this, as nobody wants to be pitied, so, like most women in my situation, I put on a brave face through those years, while thinking on the positive sides of my situation. There are enough stereotypes out there about the sad, pathetic lives of “spinsters” without me contributing to them.
I did, however, moan about my dating life, which often resulted in condescension or disapproval. On internet forums, it gets worse– women who complain about being single are often viciously criticized for their life choices. What people fail to realize is that complaints over the difficulty of finding “Mr. Right,” especially for a woman in her thirties, may be the only acceptable form of mourning she has. Mourning over the spouse or children who may never be.
That spouse and child may only exist as dreams, but as the poem goes, what happens to a dream deferred?