When Ev­ery­thing Turns to Dust

当一切化作烟尘

Special Focus - - Contents - Liu Yong 刘墉

Fol­low­ing her will, Jac­que­line Kennedy was buried be­side her first hus­band, John Kennedy. When it came out, gos­sip about her will spread around the world:

“Jac­que­line was such a snob­bish woman that she chose to be buried by the side of a hus­band who was fa­mous and pow­er­ful.”

“In western coun­tries, you know, a woman that mar­ries sev­eral hus­bands should have the sur­names of each of her hus­band’s in her name. I won­der if it was pos­si­ble to en­grave ‘ Jac­que­line Kennedy Onas­sis’ on her tomb­stone? Or was her sec­ond hus­band’s name re­moved from her name?”

“If so, Onas­sis was re­ally a poor fish to end up alone.”

“Did they say Onas­sis was buried next to his for­mer wife?”

The gos­sip re­minds me of a story about a fe­male col­league of mine.

When her hus­band was dy­ing, he called her to his bed­side and told her, “You like to have your hair and fin­ger­nails done ev­ery week. Don’t stop dress­ing up af­ter my death. No man loves a slovenly and un­tidy woman.”

The hus­band then sum­moned his sons. “Af­ter my death, if your mother finds a man who loves her, you shall sup­port it.”

With those words, he breathed his last breath.

Two or three years later, she had met a man who was also wid­owed. Be­fore mar­riage, she said to me, “I told him I’d marry him on the con­di­tion that I should be buried next to my for­mer hus­band when I die.”

“Did he agree?”

“Of course,” she laughed. “He was in high spir­its, too. He would have said it, but hes­i­tated to broach the sub­ject. He also ex­pects to be buried next to his for­mer wife when he dies.”

In mar­riage, be­ing a part­ner is more than just be­ing a “loved” one. Es­pe­cially for the re­mar­ried cou­ples, no one knows whether there is a past love buried in his or her heart.

I en­coun­tered an old pro­fes­sor who had been in a long and lov­ing mar­riage. How­ever he re­mar­ried shortly af­ter his wife passed away. Many peo­ple blamed him for “mov­ing on” so fast. It seemed his past true love had sud­denly evap­o­rated into a “false feel­ing.”

Fi­nally, a stu­dent asked, “Pro­fes­sor, which one do you love more, your new wife or the for­mer one?

The pro­fes­sor just an­swered with a smile: “Since her death, my love has fol­lowed her.”

What a feel­ing in such a short an­swer! There are many peo­ple in the world who prob­a­bly bury their love for the rest of their lives at the mo­ment when their first love fails or when they are young and wid­owed. Even though they are still liv­ing, they are just liv­ing a rou­tine and bor­ing life. What is left in their heart is only rem­i­nis­cence— no love any­more. Their love may be calm and sus­tain­ing, but will never blaze and burn again.

When I fin­ished my es­say en­ti­tled “My Beloved For­got­ten for Years,” I showed it to my wife. She said, “How can you lie in the same bed with some­one ev­ery day, but the one you love most in your heart is an­other per­son?”

She was prob­a­bly sus­pi­cious of my in­ten­tion. Just then I said, “Think about it, if I sud­denly die some day, and af­ter a while you find a man and you two are mar­ried, who is the most beloved one in your heart— that man or me?”

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