Admittedly, I am not the greatest proponent of love these days.
I’m nearly always the first to point out the romantic song by the debonaire man, was indeed written by a woman. That’s never been married. Never fearing to ask inopportune questions like: Shouldn’t we have more humble wedding ceremonies to get married? And save the lavish celebrations for when we have fought insurmountable odds, to stay married?
Arguing that the day we look to our spouse and realize, Holy crap. We’re still married. is the ideal time to throw a party and spend exorbitant amounts of money to have people toast our union – With alcohol nonetheless!
Yep. I am that person. Jaded and crushed, with a knack for making people uncomfortable with my (many) observations about love, and a heart – and a marriage – that has been shaken to the core.
You can find me sitting in the back half of any wedding ceremony, bowing my head in heartfelt prayer for the lovely couple exchanging their vows like I did all those years ago…
A prayer they’d be blessed with the marriage I never had: An uneventful one.
But I was terribly wrong…
I realized this the night my family and I gathered in our pajamas, around a 70-year-old man telling a story so touching, he had us hanging on every word that he spoke.
They had asked him about his wife. That’s all I knew, because from that point on he trailed off in a flurry of Spanish I couldn’t comprehend.
Yet regardless of the different languages we spoke, it became obvious by the way his eyes danced and by the way he gripped furiously at his heart, that him and I knew the same kind of love: Intoxicating. Passionate. Heartbreaking.
Later that night my husband helped me piece the story together, and to my surprise I found it more riveting than I imagined.
My husband told me how his uncle’s first wife had suffered a stroke at a young age while singing in church. I recalled how he bellowed the verses of the hymn that night, stopping at the exact place in the song where her health – and their lives – had changed forever.
He told me how she spent the next 8 days in a coma, stiff as a table, he said. And how each time he spoke to her – each time he leaned in close to whisper his love for her, in no doubt the same somber tone he spoke in that night – how her heart would respond. Literally, on the EKG! I remembered how he had illustrated the rise and fall of her heart with his finger in the air, how he gripped his heart describing the agony of having to let her go…
How years after she passed, he got a second chance at love, with an unlikely woman nearly half his age and living in Colombia, South America. I thought back to how his voice had livened and his eyes danced, making us laugh as we watched the 70-year-old man transform into that of a dopey young boy when describing the first kiss they shared.
But how this love wouldn’t be free of heartache either…
How for years they were separated from each other, working tirelessly to get her a visa, only able to see each other three times in those first three years of their marriage Until finally, the day came where she was given permission to come to the U.S.
But how there had been a catch. How he would have to come get her himself, rightthatsecond. Forcing him to put his humble job cleaning movie theaters on the line, and spend the great sum of money he didn’t have, to drop everything in a moment’s notice to retrieve the woman he loved.
How even still, he accepted the risks – traveled great lengths and sacrificed EVERYTHING in his attempt to get his wife back!
That night it was obvious to each of us, the frail man in the corner of the room had fought tirelessly for love.
…And, that by the grin on his face, He had won!
“They’ve been together ever since…” my husband concluded, and my heart jumped forgetting for a moment how jaded ‘we’ are these days.
And I realized, I too, was set in a tragic story of unbearable loss and tireless sacrifice…But that like him, it was a love story nonetheless! And what I learned that night captivated by the man I could barely understand was,
The love stories most harrowing, catch our attention and captivate our spirit in a way those void of all conflict ever could!
That just like the man who entranced me with the love story he had lived, It was in the heartbreaking final breaths of his first love that he learned what so few ever have – that her heart had always responded to the sound of his voice! … It was in the unbearable miles and years that separated him from his wife, that she came to know the great lengths her husband would travel and the sacrifices he would make in order to fight for her!…
That oftentimes, it’s amid the desolation the rarest treasures unearth.
Because maybe, just maybe, there is significance to be discovered in our most heart wrenching pangs. An unlikely strength awakened by our deepest sorrows, uncharted territory we may never have wandered upon and a story never written had it not been for that wrong turn or the turbulent storm that blew us off course and shook everything we believed to the core.
And that’s when I realized how terribly wrong I had been…
THE greatest gift in marriage would NOT be an uneventful one, free of all struggle and tragedy; but a marriage that has lived a love story worth telling!
The greatest gift would be a marriage that has basked in the grandeur of the uttermost heights, and who’ve crawled relentlessly on their hands and knees to get there. Whose eyes have danced in love’s intoxication, and who have gripped their heart in agony at love’s unbearable loss. A love that displays both the scars they earned in battle, and a smile on their face knowing they won!
A love story worth telling huddled around in our pajamas until the sun comes up. For generations and generations. No matter the language.
A love story so harrowing, it catches the attention and captivates the spirit, of even those like me –Who were just about to give up on love.