A Surefire Way to Die Lonely and Alone

(Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

Have you been following the pop culture international scandal of rock/pop star Shakira and her now ex-partner, soccer star Gerard Piqué?

I’m going to guess many of you have not, so let me catch you up real quick.

Shakira, whose hips have never told a lie, is one of the most successful recording artists in the world. In fact, Shakira has been so successful that while she was living with her partner in Spain, the Spanish government tried to come after her for millions in surplus taxes, something the socialist nation has been known to do with wealthy residents, particularly entertainers. Shakira solved the issue by giving Spain the middle finger and moving to Miami, but unfortunately, she had to make the move without her longtime partner, Piqué (The ex-couple has two children together).

That is because the “Whenever, Wherever” hitmaker caught Piqué cheating on her (and apparently it had been happening for quite a while). She figured it out because of jam. Yes, the kind in the jar. She noticed when she was away from home she would return to dwindling jam supplies in her pantry, and since she is the only person in her house who likes jam, she figured someone else was there while she was away. She eventually put all the pieces together and an international celebrity gossip scandal was born.

Stay with me, here. I’m going somewhere with this. I promise.

Everyone seems to agree that Piqué is an ass. For his part, he has shown no remorse, no regard for his children, and has moved on quite quickly from his family. He immediately moved his mistress in and has been flaunting their relationship for the press while Shakira raises their children in another country. Up until recently, he has not made any statements about the whole mess, but now, a year after it all went down, the famous athlete has gone on record to double down on his decision.

He told a European outlet that he feels just fine about what he did, and he hopes someday he’ll look back on his life and die knowing “I have always done what I wanted.”

(I lifted this paragraph from Jezebel because I love how they framed it)

Piqué told the outlet he’s “very happy” right now, even as the most hated man in the continent of Europe. “I keep doing what I want,” he said. Wow! “The day I die, I will look back and hope I have always done what I wanted.” He even had the gall to add, “I want to be faithful to myself,” in the face of fighting words from Shakira claiming that he sure wasn’t faithful to her.

His comments reminded me of the last conversation I had with an elderly relative in my family, some years ago now. He was a prominent figurehead in the family, and he’d had a large family of his own, with five children who produced an army of grandchildren. But their relationships were strained. At a time when most women were homemakers, he left his homemaker wife – a woman with no education beyond high school and who had never held a job outside the home – with their five children who ranged in age from late teens to preschool. He had found a younger, prettier, more ambitious woman and he’d fallen hard for her. He felt he had the right to pursue what made him happy. He abandoned his family, married the young, pretty woman, bought a convertible, and drove off into the sunset.

While he built a lifestyle of wealth and success with his new wife, his oldest child had to get a job to help support the family. He showed up occasionally, but refused to send child support and didn’t even help the family when his ex-wife developed cancer and died just as she was getting her last child out of the house. To say his children have harbored a lot of bitterness is an understatement (he never had children with the new wife).

Still, the family maintained a tenuous connection and when he and his wife began hosting family reunions on their fancy family compound in the mountains, at least a few people showed here and there. It was hard, however, to get all of his children at once.

At the final family reunion before his death, I was having a private conversation with this relative, now in his 80s. He was sad. There had been a lot of tension surrounding several of his children ditching the event at the last minute, and some of his grown grandchildren doing the same. I will never forget the words he said to me.

He said, “When I was young, I had a lot going on. I was busy. I had a demanding career. I traveled a lot. I did everything I wanted to do. I always figured I’d slow down when I’m older. But now that I’m older, and I have the time and the money to do what I want, all I want is to be with my family and enjoy our time together. And now, they don’t want to be with me. It’s lonely.”

I don’t recall what I said. Probably nothing, because I was stunned at how obtuse his statement was.

Here was a man who abandoned his responsibilities as a husband and a father, who “followed his heart,” and was “faithful to himself,” just like Piqué claims. He gave himself what he thought he deserved without regard for what his family deserved. And yes, he lived a very exciting and prosperous life, but at the end of his life, none of it meant anything.

The only thing he wanted was the love of his children, but he had squandered it in the fruitless pursuit of his own happiness. Now that he was near death, the one thing that mattered was the one thing money couldn’t buy. It was his fault he was lonely, his fault his children felt so much bitterness. He chose himself over their well-being. What did he expect?

I don’t know if anyone who needs to hear this is reading this, but I feel so moved to say this: at the end of your life, all your adventure and possessions and successes will mean nothing if your children hate you. Being “faithful to yourself” is not some kind of self-help victory. It is a surefire way to end up lonely and alone. Being faithful to others before yourself requires a measure of sacrifice. It costs you something on the front end, but on the back end, when you are old and weak and the world has sped past you, it will leave you with the most valuable type of wealth – the wealth of family.

My relative wanted his happiness on his timeline. He didn’t think he should have to pay for it. In the end, he paid handsomely. He found out the hard way that if you do not honor your family, happiness will not follow you to the grave. You will end your life in sadness and loneliness when you need faithfulness and happiness the most.

I’m sure this Piqué character is having the time of his life and thinking that when he’s done with the hazy, heady days of youth, he’ll be there for his children and be there to reconnect.

But love is like a bank, and if you don’t invest (and investment means sacrificing something right now) in your early years, your account will be empty in your later years. You’ll have the perks of youth to distract you from your emptiness, but youth is fleeting. When you get old, the bank will be empty, and you’ll be left like my relative – old and lonely and despised.

Let your faithfulness to your family be your priority now, even if it’s not sexy or fun all the time. You will not live forever. You won’t even be young for that long. You will grow old and die, if you are so blessed. Think ahead. Plan for that retirement. Invest in love now, invest in self-sacrifice now, invest in the promises you made to your loved ones now.

Or suffer the consequences later. And don’t you dare complain.

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