One Is the Loneliest Number

On Friday night our family joined three of CH’s high school friends for dinner downtown. I was the only spouse amongst the Class of 1991 group, each of us with a child in tow.

At dinner I easily noticed that we all had one child. In fact, during the past two years I’ve found myself counting children. This is not a time-intensive tick. If there is one child in a family I wonder why. Choice? Infertility? Some combination of the two? I’m working on finding new ways to say “only child” and “it’s just the three of us” – wanting to eliminate the words only and just. Help me find those words.

We all did our best to have a conversation across a long table and four children with needs. It’s basically impossible. Speed-eating contests should be held by parents of small children at restaurants. I cannot enjoy a meal with a low whine of kid-speak in my ear, asking why, when, how and why again endlessly, all while drawing castles and picking up crayons.

One CH’s friends he hadn’t seen since college. She shared her current work, but due to the state budget, knew that she would lose her job in August. We all murmured our condolences, and then she calmly shared that her husband died almost a year ago.


We all then voiced deeper condolences. The loss of a job? Terrible. The loss of a partner? Unspeakable.

Here is a woman, 38 or 39, with a child one month younger than Miss Red, and a widow. A widow about to lose her job. A widow.


On Saturday night I had a good cry. I am still so, so sad. Still thinking about Friday night, I invoked CH’s friend and her situation and cried harder. How can we sit in a restaurant, chatting over the din of life, when her life and her son’s life is forever changed? The weight of sadness is sometimes so much.

If only life wasn’t just so sad at times.


3 thoughts on “One Is the Loneliest Number

  1. Life truly can be unbearably sad. And we are all fighting battles. We all have scars – some obvious, some not so obvious. We have hurts that pass, and ones that will never leave us. In the midst of profound sadness, it’s hard to see – or feel – anything else. And that’s okay.

    Once the acute pain fades a bit, I try to take my pain and use it to be better. I try to better appreciate the wonderful things and people in my life, I try to have more empathy for others, I try to never assume. And above all, I try to be kind.

    I am so sorry that life is sad for you right now. I am sending love and light your way.

    • Thank you, dear friend. Two friends (a married couple) sent me some words that have been rattling around in my brain lately, too: “you will have new dreams some day.” I’m ready to move beyond the myopic state and expand, but man, that contraction of sadness is inertia if I’ve ever felt it. – M

      • It’s so, so true – sadness has a profoundly strong inertia. If only happiness was so easy to sustain!

        We are amazing creatures that we can overcome, again and again, to find new happiness and dreams and hope. I wish all three for you.

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