The Promise

By Ibrahim El-Kazaz


At the end of the most glorious night of my short life, she promised me the promise of the century, the most unbelievable promise. She starts her promise with a declaration:

“I love you!”

The three words that always cut into the heart, wouldn’t you agree? She went on to speak the promise, the lyrics to this particular song.

“I promise never to leave you.”

Wow. That’s strong.

“I promise that you will never be lonely.”


It was said.

The ramifications of those words can never be undone.

The more religious types would’ve responded, “Honey, I never was lonely, I always had God.” But I think to myself, “God is everything, He is also loneliness.” I have lived my life in loneliness.

The nervous guy would have stuttered. Hesitated. Taken aback by this most beautiful of promises. But I was not nervous. Not even surprised.

A romantic would have responded, “Honey, I promise you a thousand-fold, you will never be lonely.” But I could not do that.

Mistakenly, my first thought was of death. What if she dies before me, I thought. But there is a way around that, logistically speaking. Suicide in the moment of her death to keep her promise was a sound idea. I would just have to be [insane] in love enough when the moment came. But suicide wasn’t on my mind that night so I did not speak a word. I looked at her. Thinking of her death. Thinking of the inevitability of her leaving.

But she was there.

On our wedding night, she was there.

When our first was born, she was there.

When we were sick, she was there.

When we were sad, she was there.

When we were fighting, she was there.

When all seemed to be lost, she was there.

When she should’ve left, she was there.

Years and years have passed. She has always been there.

But has her promise been kept? I will die today. Seventy years old with wrinkles that seemed to have formed into each other. We will die together. Neither of us has ever left the other. I think back on my life, to all the times I was lonely. The oldest and most obvious ones spring to mind, like middle school. As I go through my life, year by day, looking for the lonely ones, I see a promise not kept. Because she stayed when she shouldn’t have. She became a ghost and I became hollow. I became lonely without realizing it. Alone. All because of a promise on a glorious night. Because of a promise not kept, I will die alone tonight.