Thursday, November 13, 2008

True love

I'm having an existential love crisis.

My grandmother developed breast cancer a few years ago. She was the quintessential grandmother. She was always funny, sweet, loving and dignified. Even when my mom was hysterical and upset, my Granny always seemed under control. (at least she always was in front of me, which is a testament to what kind of woman she was.) After chemo, losing her hair, energy and so many other things, she was cancer free! 2 months later she was feeling tired again; the cancer was back and with a vengeance. She wouldn't recover this time. It had spread to her bones and brain. We were hoping she would make it to Christmas. She didn't.

We drove to the funeral, about a thousand miles. My mother was obviously upset. She was angry too. I sat next to her as the evangelical preacher with the big hair eulogized my Granny as "Paula"... not her name. I'm sure she would have laughed about that but I was pissed.

10 days after the funeral, my family came to stay at my parents house for Christmas. My uncle's color in his face got better since he was eating real food. And my grandpa cried a lot. It's hard to see a father figure in your life cry...

We had banded together as a family and I truly believed that we would be better for it. Little did anyone know that within 4 months my grandpa would start seeing another woman.

They plan to get married early next year.

My Granny will be gone for 2 years this Christmas. She had told my mom before she died that she knew this woman would weasel her way into his life. She made my mother promise to not let that woman get all the things that were supposed to go to her family. She didn't want that woman to have the family heirlooms.

So 6 weeks ago we got a UHaul and drove the thousand miles again and cleaned my grandpa out. We took the sofas, tables, chairs. We took the old records, dresses, fabric. I took all her sewing supplies and costume jewelry. Anything that meant anything, my mother wanted out of the house. She was so angry at him. I understood why she felt that way but I didn't feel that way myself. Until last Monday.

I was unpacking boxes in my studio. I was marveling how unorganized it all was; the paint brushes were thrown in the box with all the yarn and thread everywhere. A basket of yarnWe had packed like we were on a sinking ship. Next to a bundle of ink pens I found a box with pink roses on it. It was labeled "Love Letters". (My Granny was the label queen!) I carefully opened the letters and read, one after another. My grandpa had written some of the most beautiful and sweet letters. On the back of his math homework, he had written that he pledged his love to her for all time. While he was in boot camp, he wrote how much he missed her and that she was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.

I couldn't stand it. Was it all a lie? Did he change his mind after all these years? Was this how true love ends? Not happily ever after but with deceit, lies, weakness and betrayal? Are all men like this? Can they all write this stuff and not mean it? Do women do this too? I know I couldn't... Was it a lie when he wrote it? Do people get caught up in the 'fluff' love and never have true love? I don't understand...

This has rocked me at my core. As much as I hate to admit it, I have always been a dreamer. I believe that love conquers all. I believe in happily ever after. I believe that you find that special person and you make a life together and you love that person for the rest of your life. Together, you take on the harsh world. The love you have lives forever. True, I never expected my grandpa to die alone. He doesn't have to because his wife of 50 years died but I didn't expect this...

Today, I don't want to get married. Ever. Love is a sham. A lie that we tell ourselves. It's really about finding someone who doesn't drive you crazy and cohabiting. There will be affection, devotion and respect if you're lucky. Today, true love doesn't exist.

That's how I feel today. Tomorrow I may feel differently, but today, today that is how I feel.

And it breaks my heart.

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