Mrs. R. came in today for an exam and a mammogram referral. She's been in to see me quite a few times for other things and we have a nice, relaxed rapport. The exam was "unremarkable" (though no woman wants to hear that her breasts are "unremarkable", even at 67). We joked a little bit and she made a comment about being a nun. It turns out that her husband of 48 years had a massive heart attack a few years ago and that was the end of physical intimacy.
Now, at this point I was running a bit behind on a very busy morning. So busy that I spent lunchtime working on charts and finishing prescriptions. But Mrs. R. kept talking and I kept listening. She told me about the love she and her husband had for each other. How they still make each other laugh after almost 50 years together. How they occasionally bicker about stupid things and annoy each other. But that's what you have to put up with for that kind of longevity and those kinds of rewards.
I've been doing a bit of reading and thinking about being single and being in relationship. An article I read this morning about the tendencies of Gen X-er's to marry late or not at all said that we lacked the ability to commit, we're always looking for the end of the rainbow. If you've ever looked for the end of the rainbow, you know that it's elusive. So elusive that it doesn't exist. We're searching for a perfection in another person or a situation or a job that we do not have in ourselves. We have little tolerance for frustration. Ergo, we may have even less success at relationships that our parents, the baby-boomers. Hard to believe, I know.
So, committment means is standing still with an open heart. Not standing with one foot out the door, ready to run at the first sign of trouble. It's taking the laughter and the fear and the mess and the joy altogether.