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Essays by Karen Anderson: Never Wasted

Illustration by Kacie Brown

When I was growing up, it was expected that women would get married and have children. And if they didn’t, you felt sorry for them. Certainly my mother and grandmother would speak of poor childless women in hushed tones, as if they had missed their chance to love someone.

As I got older and actually met women who didn’t have children, however, they didn’t seem pitiful or hopeless to me. Like my eleventh grade English teacher, Miss Curry, who—if she’d had children—might never have had time to invite several of us to form a Creative Writing Group. It changed my life.

And now, as an adult, I’ve come to believe that love is never wasted. If you don’t have children of your own, there are plenty of children and adults and animals who need love. My good friend Jane is single and childless and has rescued countless cats. When a man recently entered her life, he didn’t know much about cats but he does now—and he loves them, too.

My friend Margaret keeps chickens and grows vegetables which she shares with all her neighbors. She also takes them to medical appointments and recovery meetings. “How do you find people to help?” I asked her. “They find me,” she said. Of course they do.

Love is never wasted.

Karen Anderson contributes "Essays by Karen Anderson" to Interlochen Public Radio.