Holidays Alone

Is their chosen aloneness an incredibly decisive act of self-determination?

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My TV is out tonight. Okay. So, I thought I might unwind and rest my head by listening to a podcast. Some radio.

You might have also listened to the November 17th version of “This American Life.” There is a story of a 79-year old woman named Maryann who walked into a hospital alone and died there. It follows the story of a young woman named Emily whose job it is to claim her things at the hospital, go through her house and figure out who to inform, how to find family or loved ones. This particular woman left nearly no personal items, but had a house full of things. She cocooned herself in this place.

They talk to her neighbors. They barely know her. The only clue is a 30 year-old Christmas card written from a man who claims he doesn’t know her until he realizes that she is in fact his great-aunt.

On her answering machine was the message, “This is a message from No Name, No Number, No Message, No Answer.”

I wonder if she was happy. I wonder if this was all exactly as she wanted it.

Then, there was a young man named Clevins who lived alone at 15. He spoke of the joy of being able to make up his own room after a nomadic childhood. After his mother got sick, he decided to not tell anyone about it so that he could avoid being put into the foster care system.

And I wondered, is this one of the last things that we can have any control over? Our home and when and under what conditions people enter our space. When we walk out into the world. And what the course of our path is. Is their chosen aloneness an incredibly decisive act of self-determination?

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