Moments come when my singleness feels like such a failure, it takes my breath away.
Deep down, I know this is all out of my control. That is, I could have married long ago for the sake of being married but I chose not to settle.
I chose that which is better.
I chose the road less traveled by.
I lived a long time believing I must be doing something wrong to still be single. I don't believe that anymore. And yet, every once in awhile, the old doubts come. The precipitating reason changes. Each time I am stunned when these feelings rise up.
A month or so ago, I sat in my living room reading a book when my thoughts wandered into unfortunate territory.
In this particular perceived failure moment, I wished I'd married 5 years ago. Or, more accurately, I wished Grandma hadn't died of cancer so she'd be here to witness it. The same goes for my other Grandma who died last fall.
I long dreamed of soaking up familial wisdom from my mom and her mom, as well as taking a 4 generations portrait together once I had my first child.
The generations portrait stuck out in my mind. A symbol of my failure.
I have pictures of Grandma, Mom, and me over the years but we'll never add that 4th generation picture to the collection.
Sometimes it hits me. She won't witness my wedding or hold my baby. Because I failed.
This is messy grief. This is me projecting feelings on to a future that isn't guaranteed over a past I can't change.
And, you know, it's not really about my marital status. It's about missing her. It's about realizing she's been gone for almost 5 years. Five years. How did that happen? How have we marked 5 years worth of holidays, birthdays, weddings, and funerals without her?
If I concentrate, I can remember the sound of her laugh. I can hear her saying the last words she ever said to me. I can picture her smile.
But these are all memories.
This is what five years without Grandma looks like: Mourning the losses, big and small. Thinking she should be here and remembering she is not. Days where she doesn't cross my mind and days when she barely leaves it, her advice so ingrained in me. Heart hurting for Grandpa. Wondering what it would be like if she was still here.
And then, rarely, these aching moments.
I give myself permission to feel, to grieve, to mourn. Logic will have its say but not until later. Later I will acknowledge I cannot change the past and remind myself this is what life looks like when you are left behind.
Nothing will bring Grandma back.
Not these portraits. Nor will getting married or continuing to stay single. This I know.
So I sit with these thoughts and let myself cry for awhile. Then I dry my eyes and move on to the next task.
I know I haven't failed. I know I can't bring her back. But sometimes, I wish I could.