You’ve just turned 82. You are still beautiful, graceful and desirable. We’ve lived together now for 58 years and I love you more than ever. Lately I’ve fallen in love with you all over again and I once more carry inside me a gnawing emptiness that can only be filled by your body snuggled up against mine.
At night I sometimes see the figure of a man, on an empty road in a deserted landscape, walking behind a hearse. I am that man. It’s you the hearse is carrying away. I don’t want to be there for your cremation; I don’t want to be given an urn with your ashes in it. I hear the voice of Kathleen Ferrier singing, ‘Die Welt ist leer, Ich will nicht leben mehr’ and I wake up. I check your breathing, my hand brushes over you.
Each of us would like not to survive the other’s death. We’ve often said to ourselves that if, by some miracle, we were to have a second life, we’d like to spend it together.
~ from Lettre à D. Histoire d’un Amour (Letter to D. Story of a Love)
Andre Gorz, a friend of Jean-Paul Sartre, was a French philosopher and founder of the magazine Le Nouvel Observateur. He and his British-born wife, Dorine, met by chance at a card game in 1947 and married in 1949. She was diagnosed with arachnoiditis in her 50’s, an incurable illness that caused intense pain. They died together in 2007 by lethal injection. Lettre à D. Histoire d’un Amour is a 75-page love letter to his wife.
Are there still couples like Andre and Dorine in this day and age? Somehow, this level and intensity of commitment has become so rare; the increasing number of divorces and casual sex are the disappointing norms of our generation.
C and I have discussed death and remarriage. Two people who are both ill (not terminal though both are incurable) have to be prepared for the future. He once told me that it’s all right for me to remarry especially if he leaves when I am still reasonably young. He explained that humans need life companions. However, he cheekily stated that when it’s time for me to die, he would come for me and we will spend eternity together… to hell with the second husband.
I am more selfish. If I am gone before him, I don’t want him to remarry at all! 🙂