Youth, Loneliness

My daughter just told me about a conversation she had with my niece who is eighteen and lonely. My niece’s mom, my oldest sister, became ill when Lillie was twelve, so she has been without an older woman/mentor for a lot of the years of her development. I try to help, but being in a different state doesn’t make it easy. I am glad she and my daughter have found each other.

Anyway, I think she is searching for reasons that her family life evolved the way it did. She loves to hear stories about my sister before she was married, although she cannot imagine her mom in a two-piece bathing suit with lots of boyfriends. I can relate to that. At a niece’s wedding, I did a couple of dance moves to an old song and my daughter looked at me in shock. I immediately quit. Not motherly, I guess. Since then I have come to think that you have a better relationship with your parents as an adult if you can see them as people.

Anyway, my niece is currently “best-friend-less,” and in a time when she might have turned to my sister if things had turned out differently, she can’t. My daughter, with the wisdom of all twenty-five of her years, told Lillie that you can make ten friends before you make a good one, that that’s the way life is, but she could not have advised her cousin in that way when she was, say…..nineteen. It is a lesson, I think, that you learn.

My office-mate last year had a sister who is profoundly deaf. The sister was complaining at a family gathering about how lonely her deafness made her. My office-mate’s husband had enough, and he told the sister so. He said loneliness was part of the human condition. He had not married until he was thirty-eight, and until then, he was lonely.

I don’t think loneliness is ever easy, and it has been a constant surprise to me that you can be lonely even if there are people all around you. I wish there was a way that I could make such things easier for my niece.

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