As a declared fan of the Netflix series “The Crown” and a great admirer of Queen Elizabeth II, I could not wait for the 3rd series to begin and have already watched a few episodes. On one of them, the Queen’s character (brilliantly played by Olivia Colman in her mature years) says something that deeply impressed me, and it has dwelt on my mind ever since.
The Queen’s outburst
In the scene she is talking to a lifelong friend, who is helping her visit places in France and America specialised in horse breeding and tells him that she feels this is the life she would have wished for, a quiet life in the country, dedicated to her family and to breeding horses – and probably the life she would have had, had not her Uncle Edward VIII abdicated thus forcing her father to become king, and consequently her to become queen after her father. She calls that her “unlived life” and wonders if she would not have happier with such a life, than with that of a Queen.
Regarding Queen Elizabeth, I respectfully disagree as I see her as a great monarch, someone whom I (as well as millions of people, I believe) immensely respect for having been able to put duty before everything during her whole life, for being truly deserving of all the privileges that have come their way, for no hardship has been forsaken in her dedication to her mission: to preserve the Crown.
My “unlived lives”
But then, I think of her phrase ”the unlived life” and in what it means for every one of us. And I think of myself and all my unlived lives, the lives I might have lived had my choices – or circumstances – been different.
First of all, the lost life when we we forced to leave Mozambique. Sometimes – not too many, fortunately – I picture how things would have been for us had we been able to pursue our life there as it was, the days of wine and roses. I would have went on living in our beautiful house, then as a teenager and young woman I would have been part of the highly active social life of our city, going out to parties and night-clubs with my friends and spending weekends on idyllic beach resorts like the island of Inhaca, or maybe Bilene or Ponta do Ouro, a bit further from LM (now Maputo) where we lived. I would certainly have gone to university and probably – only probably – Granddad would have offered me a position in his company. I would have found myself a dashing young man of good families, or maybe a tall, blonde and blue eyed South African, and we’d marry and live happily ever after. I’d never have financial constraints as my family was very well off even if I would probably not have all the freedom I wanted, living so close to my slightly overbearing family and working with Granddad. Still, that would have been my life had the 1974 Revolution not destroyed our hopes and dreams, forcing us to leave our homeland Mozambique. I never really regretted losing that life however, as what I lost in comfort I gained in freedom.
Then I think of other choices I made, of other possible lives I left behind. I left a man who deeply loved me, and whom I also loved for some time, and when I said goodbye, he simply told me that in my life I would never find another man who would love me as much as he did. I didn’t take heed, head over heels as I was for someone else, the man I chose to marry and ultimately be the father of my children, but today I know that other love of mine was right, as no one has loved me as he did, and most assuredly no one ever will; at times I wonder at how life might have been with him by my side; we might have been happy, pursuing our careers, travelling the world, sharing our love for the wonderful island where he was born and one I love as an adopted daughter…
Then another possible life where I might have made my marriage work, not making the terrible mistakes I now realise might have been avoided, if only I – and my then husband – knew better; if only I had been less jealous, more mature, and he had been more loving, more caring, opening his heart more, if only we had not drifted apart so much, maybe we’d still be a family today, who knows? If only our love had not died.
I might still think of another dozen possible lives but then it’s only those that matter that I think of. To end with, I think of the possible life I might still been living if a love found later in life and I had learned the secret of keeping intact the happiness of our early years, if only we had not lost so many wonderful things that kept us together. If only…
My real life
In the end, and considering all these lives I might have lived, and how much happier some of them might have made me, there is one aspect of this life I have actually lived that I would not trade for nothing in the world – nor love, nor riches, nor travels, nor anything. That is the live I have lived, and live, as the mother of my two sons. I know in my other possible lives I might have had children, too, but they would not be exactly these sons. And these are precious, they are perfect, because they are mine, the sons my life has given me, and they are all a mother could dream of – or so I believe.
That’s why, at the end of the day, I put back all thoughts of unlived lives and thank God, and all the stars above, for my life, the real one – and stop dreaming of what might have been.