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I switched off the light last night and as though the switch had been flicked in me, I started to cry. For a moment I didn’t know what I was crying for, and tried that ineffectual trick of scolding myself out of it. Then I realised, with some surprise, that I was mourning the loss of something I had never had. It wasn’t a particularly terrible loss, or something that was ridiculous to get upset about (“waaa…I’ve never owned a pony…” for example). It was just something that was quietly sad of its own accord, missed time, missed opportunity, missed potential, a litany of ‘what ifs’ that lead nowhere.

As I’ve said a million times before, I’m only here because God has brought me here, and all the things that have or haven’t happened in my life are part of him bringing me to himself. But it’s something I’ve been thinking about, particularly as a result of my recent counselling sessions where we’ve been talking about the reality of loss and mourning as you become an older single woman. Certain milestones pass by unmarked; you note them but they aren’t anything you can claim for yourself. Things you maybe thought you would mark in the appropriate time crumble to dust in the light of reality and how things have panned out.

That sounds terribly maudlin, I know, but there is a kernel of truth in it, even for those not prone to crying in the middle of the night. There are seasons of life that some of us move through at the ‘right’ time, and then there are those of us who are just waiting, a little confused and wondering whether we’ve done anything wrong, and feeling guilty for feeling sad about things that haven’t happened. It’s the emptiest kind of grief, unvalidated, unasked for, unnoticed. It feels pointless, but maybe that’s a way through – maybe it’s worth acknowledging and staring at in the light, to reduce that sadness to its appropriate size and make it less of a thing that goes bump in the night.