I take heart from these stories, even if some seem a bit mushy. They offer evidence that love can come to people at all ages and stations. They inspire me to let go of my tendency to be pessimistic and think, "They're writing songs of love, but not for me." What good are such thoughts? Donna Zerner had never been in love before, and the joy and sacredness at her commitzvah ceremony with David were so palpable, people couldn't stop smiling. Those who were single felt there was still a chance for them, and those who had a partner were inspired to strengthen their bond.
Donna and David set the bar high, vowing they would always see challenges between them as an opportunity to deepen their love and their relationship to God. When I heard them voice this, I thought, "That's the reason I want to be in a relationship again. Not for sex (alone) or even companionship, but for the opportunity to go deeper with another and draw closer to the light—especially at this age, when time seems to be speeding up."
Ellen Burstyn talks about how, around age 65, "I experienced my mortality. Not like 'Oh yeah, I'm gonna die,' but it's a possibility that's there all the time. And once that happens, everything becomes more precious.
"And to be in love!" she says. "To experience the joy of intimacy in the presence of death—that is delicious. When you're in love you feel so young, and at the same time, you're summing life up. So it's beautiful and rich, and you have to be aware that it's impermanent." She says that she and her partner joke all the time about funerals and ashes. He told her recently that he was driving home and a song on the radio threw him into a terrible dark place...
"Oh, was I dead again?" Ellen said with a laugh. "Will you stop already?"
She says they don't plan to marry. "We have being in love right now. We know that life is short. Death is certain. And love is real. We're going to enjoy every moment of it."
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