To love each other as we leave each other: “I am fired like a teenager, when I am 77 years old”

First day

I have been a widower and retired for ten years. I had known my wife since the age of 4, we had grown up together. Eighteen months of cancer, and I find myself alone at breakfast with no one to talk to about the day ahead. One of my daughters also died in a car accident twenty years ago. I am a little depressed, not prepared to live on my own.

So I invest myself in the associative world, to occupy myself and not to look too much at my loneliness in the face. I started helping migrants, I spend nearly eighty hours a week helping them complete their administrative files. It was obvious to me: my father was Jewish, he suffered during the war. And I was a seismologist, I traveled a lot. Migration is really the place where the most discriminated people find themselves.

Within the association, the good conscience of volunteers can obscure their reasoning. But there is “her”, for whom things seem more adjusted. I meet her during the reception hours during which we hear people. I am behind my table, it is not very far from me. I observe her, she is prettier than the average woman of her age, livelier and more dolled up too. She reacts differently to the interviews, more understanding: she is a psychiatrist.

“I am not bothered by her need for independence, I imagine that after two husbands she needs adventures, to be free, and that is understandable”

One Saturday, I am in the street, on my bike, my basket full of the groceries I made for the dinner that I am organizing at home the same evening. When you are a widower, sociability is complicated, because people are used to couple interactions. And suddenly there are no two of you as they continue to function in pairs. I expected these friends to be supportive in my grief, I realized that the opposite was happening, that it was up to me to rebuild social ties and reassure them about my new status.

So on this corner of the sidewalk, I meet her. I say hello to him, we’re talking. She has time to tell me that she lives alone, that she has been divorced twice and that she is happy to finally be able to breathe and do what she wants to do. I suggest that he come and dine at home with my guests. I am not bothered by her need for independence, I imagine that after two husbands she needs to be free, and that is understandable.

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