Were you watching the Super Bowl last night? If you were, did you see that Google advertisement, the one with the old man remembering his late wife? If you saw it, did you think that it was sweet? Did you think about your own grandparents? Did you imagine that someday you would be like that old man?
Well, not me. All I felt was pure, unadulterated rage.
I realize this is not what the makers of this ad intended. I’m sure they wanted viewers to feel a mix of nostalgia and love when they saw it. I mean, what beautiful narration by the widower, and what amazing images of the man and his wife throughout their lifetime! Many of my friends on Facebook went nuts over such a “heartfelt” ad. It was “so sweet” and “touching to the bottom of our souls.”
You know what I was thinking the entire time?
“That’s so unfair.”
The guy in the ad was clearly about 85, and had lived approximately a half-century with his wife. He missed her, and he wanted to remember her. But all I could think was, “he got a whole life with his wife. And I got robbed of that with Shawn.”
It’s not fair of me to say this. His grief is real (he is apparently a real person) and his loss is not to be diminished. Comparing grief does no one any good. Is my grief really worse because my husband died after we’d only been together after 15 years, rather than 50? What if we’d only been married for 5 years? I mean, this argument is a stupid one to have, because it doesn’t help anyone feel better.
And yet, I just keep thinking, “it’s not fair!”
This man – the one from the commercial – he got a whole life with his wife. He got all those memories, the ones of them raising their kids, the ones of them doing things with gray hair, the ones of them traveling to Alaska.
A whole life. He got a whole life that he didn’t have to do alone.
Last night, as I got 5-year-old Tommy ready for bed, he turned to me and asked, “Did Shawn like the Super Bowl?” and I choked out my reply. My boy calls his father by his first name, because he can’t remember ever saying “daddy.” Worse, he doesn’t really remember his father, and no Google trick is going to help with that.
And I didn’t get those years with Shawn to raise Tommy and our other two kids as a family. Together. Google would never make an ad like this about my life, because my life does not evoke the “right” emotions about grief and loss and life and love.
I try to be fair when things like this are up on everyone’s social media pages. I love that people are thinking sweet things about their loved ones, and that there are places to do this even during Super Bowl commercials. The ad is supposed to make you post things like, “hold your loved ones a little closer tonight!”
It’s not supposed to make you scream out loud, “it’s not fair!”
The ad is supposed to make you think that love will last forever. That you’ll get a lifetime with your spouse and that things might be bumpy, but you’ll have each other throughout most of it. And maybe that’s the case. God, I hope that’s the case for everyone I know who is married.
But for some of us, it’s not. And while it may not be fair to compare my situation to someone else’s, I can’t help but think that I’d give anything to have what the man from the Google ad had.
A whole life together.
Image Credit: Becky Hale Photography.