Widowed from a May-December Relationship
Gavin and I had a “May-December” relationship. I always resented this term. It made me sound too fresh and green, when I was sticky, black and mean; and cast him as so close to the end of the story, when in fact, he was just out of a band and doing drawings that befuddled the critics. I’d think, couldn’t we at least call it “a June-October relationship?”
Not that I cared very much what anyone thought. We were in love. I was mature for my age, with a lot to learn in his strong areas: people, politesse, the power of listening. We surprised each other with our affection and our commitment, as it grew.
Sure, there were 20 years between us. I used to say, “our age gap is not quite up to Hollywood standards.” But it didn’t matter. We loved all the same bands. We both felt moved by minimalist and conceptual art (though he always accused me of spending more time reading the labels than looking at the art). Appreciated the splendor of the mundane. Alternated between goofy and overly earnest.
A few friends cringed, a little, at first. Those on his side could see, I’m sure, that I was ripping him from dotage with his elderly mother and the fate of dying alone, of avoiding fatherhood. Others saw Daddy issues. He didn’t really like having folks ask our infant daughter who her nice grandpa was. But it’s a post-Viagra world, people. Age is nothing but a number, or in our case, two of them.
We were happy. We had, for the most part, a good balance in our relationship. Our skills and strengths, to some degree, were complimentary. (I really wish he hadn’t been a pillbox about dinner parties. We were at our best as hosts, minglers.)
But one of the great lessons of widowhood, at least for me, has been that, fuck you, love is NOT enough. Maybe some people could see in us how we’d end up, that I’d be left behind, that it was inevitable he’d die on me.
Mr. Fresh says, “You didn’t ask to be widowed at 39. Maybe at 59, when he was 79, but no one would have expected it when you had a 2-year-old.” He has a point. As much as I’ve been an old soul, even as a child, I always felt I’d start life in a new, much better direction at age 50. I thought the most beautiful women always have silver hair. I do have several relatives who’ve lived past 100.
That doesn’t mean I had to find my match outside my peer group, but I did spend a lot of energy looking to a future as an old person. Would Gavin be part of that later life? I didn’t think we’d be the cliché on the porch in rocking chairs, but who was I to quibble when I loved him? “’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”
I don’t feel the same way anymore. I’ve played out the endgame of the May-December relationship. I don’t really have much advice or anything profound to say.
I just don’t recommend it.
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