All By Myself

By: Anne Corke

Dec 05 2016

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Category: Life stories


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Once more winter is approaching and with it, long dark winter nights that invite contemplation and introspection. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about life, about relationships, about the human condition. The question that has been occupying me most recently is that age old one: are we alone? In the quiet of the evening, when the dogs are curled up asleep in their beds, I sometimes find that I am very aware of being alone and the feeling is somehow familiar, probably because I observed it years ago after my Dad died leaving my Mum a widow.

The morning of the first Valentine’s Day following my father’s death, I had stopped in on my way to work to make Mum a cup of tea. I brought her a card and a heart-shaped box of her favourite chocolates. That evening, our power went out and since Mum had only been on her own for a month, Gary and I drove back to make sure she was okay. I came in the front door to see her sitting at the dining table eating chocolates by candlelight. I was struck by two thoughts. First of all, she was coping with the blackout just fine. Second, she looked so alone. And it wasn’t a weeping wailing loneliness. No, she didn’t seem unhappy, she just seemed so solitary. Another night I had forgotten something at the house and I drove over after dark to find her sitting on edge of the bed, taking her pantyhose off. Her beloved dog Tristan was lying on the bed beside her. She had forgotten to lock the front door and hadn’t heard me come in. Again I observed that solitary state.

Many years before, age seventeen, I was working at my first job. An older, more worldly friend and I were discussing life’s mysteries over lunch. She believed that each of us is completely alone even when we are surrounded by other people. I was young, naive and idealistic, and totally shattered by her revelation. When I got home, I told my mother about this upsetting conversation and she assured me that my friend was quite wrong, that I would never be alone, that she and Dad would always be with me. But now I see a reflection of my widowed mother in myself, sitting alone with a cup of tea at the end of the day – not unhappy, not lonely, just alone. Maybe my friend was right all along.

It’s a fact of life. In any long term relationship, one person or the other will end up alone. So still I wonder, are we truly alone in the world? Will we be alone in the next world too? Are we like balls in a pinball machine, glancing off one another, lives touching ever so briefly? What is the nature of our existence beyond the corporeal? Will we ever find the answers to our questions, or will we always wonder?

Copyright 2016 Anne Corke

6 comments on “All By Myself”

  1. A very interesting and thought-provoking reflection, Anne. I leave you with this quote: Language has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone, and the word solitude to express the glory of being alone. Paul Tillich

  2. I believe we’re constantly surrounded by the energy of those who’ve passed before us. We may FEEL alone, but I really don’t believe we ever truly are. x

  3. Lovely writing, Anne. These are the questions all of us pose, and I have no idea what the answers are. What you have written is especially poignant to me right now, as I see my father’s health declining. I lost my mother four years ago and still think about her every day. I don’t hold a belief of any kind of ‘existence’ beyond this life, and I feel at peace with that. It makes me appreciate each day all the more. Your prose is a pleasure to read.



    Drew Monkman 705-743-0868 (home) 705-760-1436 (cell)

    “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” ― Carl Sagan

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