In my family, we celebrate Chanukah, Christmas, and New Years. We always have had a wonderful time and this year turned out to be a particularly fun and nostalgic one for me! I was wondering, then, what I felt so sad about? Of course, my husband has not been so well for a few years now and that makes me very sad, but besides that, and that is hard to get besides, I really got what I had said I wanted for a long time. Lonely? Why? How? I finally had my children and my grandchildren around me. Our kids have been great What then?
After a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner and a fun Christmas morning with my family, my kids brought my husband, Bob, and me home and while he was sleeping I slipped away for a quick walk. After the rain, it was fresh outside and crisp under my feet. It was perfect winter weather for walking. I had music in my ears (Kellie Pickler, for those of you who are country fans) as I walked for a half-hour and it was magic. I don’t remember the name of the song or the words but they spoke to me. I had these thoughts and they all connected, somehow. At that moment, it all made sense. The reason I was lonely was that I was thinking of holidays past, where I was the parent and my kids were little, or even when I was the child and my sisters and parents were alive. Those years were precious, and such an important part of our lives and so so sweet to remember. We’ve lost close friends this year –they were all that were part of our tapestry– and last month we put our beloved, almost 14-year-old, doxie down: the beautiful and lovable, Sophia Loren Fead. So we had big losses!
On the other hand, we had big wins! After many years of contemplating a move, we finally made a decision. That in itself was our big win. When a perfect buyer came along we picked up stakes in Montecito, California, and after 35 years moved back home to LA to be near families and doctors. At 87? We must have been crazy! We were, but we did it and survived!!
As I was walking, I realized why I still felt lonely. It’s because I missed everyone from my life before. I didn’t only miss my family, but Mr. Hedges, my history teacher in 5th grade, Charles Bragg, my first art teacher, my first kiss from Johnny Galardo in the elevator! I missed falling in love. Not being in love. I am in love. I missed falling in love! I missed dancing and singing and being the youngest at the table, not the oldest. I missed liking the feeling of getting dressed up, instead of feeling it as a chore. I missed the camaraderie of tennis and hiking on those beautiful trails along the trickles of water.What I feel, I figured out at least for me, is that those of us of a certain age are lonely in spite of how privileged we are with these extra years we have been given, because not only have we suffered losses but we miss feeling safe in a crowded room. We miss going to the movies, airlines to romantic places, being shoulder to shoulder with friends old and new, and feeling RELEVANT! My God, how important that is!
And now, really? It’s time to mask up again? Time to watch TV to see how many have succumbed? It’s so isolating when for us every year is so important! We are entitled to feel lonely and scared, and happy all at the same time. I got it!!!
We miss connection! It’s hard to not be connected in ways we have taken for granted our whole lives: to shake hands with a stranger, kiss an old friend, and hug our families. We have all learned how to survive without connection now, and that’s not a good thing. We’re no longer sure how to act when we are with others. Do we fist bump? Sit next to them? Air kiss?
The pandemic has changed us forever and while there is good to come out of it (taking time to realize what really matters in life, what friendships mean, etc., which are no small things, by the way), we, old and young, need to connect and remind each other just how valuable we are to one another in the large, large scheme of things!HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE! STAY SAFE
Beverlye Hyman Fead is a nationally recognized author, speaker, filmmaker and cancer survivor. In 2019, Beverlye received the Alliance For Aging Research Perennial Award, presented each year to honor an older individual who is actively contributing to create positive societal change and serves as a role model for people of all ages.