Last Wednesday we spent our anniversary at a funeral. The entire day couldn’t have been more heartbreaking and certainly it was light years away from the starry-eyed excitement of our wedding day twenty six years before, when I wanted everything to be perfect.
But I’ve learned a lot about love and happiness since my wedding day.
And the illusion of perfect.
I’ve learned that in real life tragic things happen that make absolutely no sense. And so you end up burying your twenty-nine year old nephew Nick, on your wedding anniversary huddled next to your husband and your sons on a windy, green hilltop while you mumble the words of Amazing Grace.
I’ve learned that holding hands while you watch a casket slowly lowered into brown dirt can be just as soulful as holding hands after a night spent between 800 thread count sheets in a fancy hotel.
When you’re married long enough, life will wink at you. It will pull the curtain back on all those fluff, romantic movies and show you that an enduring love that has little to do with ‘happily ever after’ and everything to do with accepting flaws and saying I’m sorry and counting your blessings.
Oh, and never underestimate the aphrodisiacal power of a partner who makes you laugh.
“Marry someone with a great sense of humor” I tell my boys when I catch them shaking their heads while I laugh at their Dad.
It’s probably annoying. But every once in a while I drip out advice about relationships to my sons, just in case they’re listening. Mostly I’m just trying to offer some balance to this strange culture we live in, one that looks increasingly like a breeding ground for narcissists.
Yes,I know. It’s true social media helps us stay connected to more people in our cyber world, but I wonder what it does to the intimacy of our face to face relationships. Especially those deep, loving relationships we hope for our kids.
Do you ever think about this?
Some of it is common sense, but what kind of slow, engrossing conversations can happen when you’re constantly distracted by your IPhone screen?
How do you make someone feel like they’re ‘the apple of your eye’ when your eyes are always multi-tasking?
How do you develop the sturdy sense of self worth that you need to pick a healthy partner when your mood is dependent on something as fleeting as the number of “likes” you get on a given day?
And how do you hear your deepest feelings when you never unplug from your technology?
Look, I have no idea how it is to grow up only knowing this kind of hyper-kinetic communication, but I do know that having an incessant need to pose and share intimate photos of every facet of our lives seems like the opposite of living in the moment…
which is where real joy is.
Especially for young girls, it seems like a road to a dangerous kind of neediness. One that’s too focused on being seen and valued for our shallower parts.
Do I sound old?
You’ll have to forgive me.
But there’s something about wedding anniversaries and funerals that open up our hearts and remind us what’s important in life.
Last evening Mr. M came home from the gym while I was walking in with groceries.
“Come on, let’s go see the sunset. Put the bags down,” he said. So I grabbed my camera and we rushed out wondering if we could make it in time before the sun went down.
Five minutes later we had parked our car across from the beach and were already walking toward the sand when we saw this brilliant orange sky (no Photoshop used here).
I was so startled I almost forgot to take this picture.
lifeguards at sunset
last night on the beach
I snapped a few shots but mostly we just stood in the warm mist and stared at the water…
and while listening to the waves crash on the shore I realized that when you forget how many years you’ve been married, it’s not because your love has dulled but because you no longer remember a time when you weren’t together.
Much later I told him about this little bit of trivia.
It was a reunion photo shoot of Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal, the stars of Love Story.
Do you remember this movie? I was ten years old in December 1969 when Love Story was released and when I first fell in love with straight, flat hair parted down the middle.
(When you’re a little girl with thick, wavy hair, you lust for that look).
Even though the movie remains one of the top 40 grossing films ever, that one line always bugged me. You know which one.
44 years later;
Ali MacGraw age 75 Ryan O’Neal age 73
Thank you Ali for getting it on record that the famous line of Love Story
Maybe because I know I can be a royal pain in the butt, but even when I was a dreamy ten year old girl clutching my copy of Wuthering Heights I knew this wasn’t right.
What do you think?
I do. But even soul mates have to work hard at love. To listen. To apologize. And listen some more. To discover that kindness is more important than being right. And to know that sometimes, enduring love is no more complicated than the act of falling down and getting back up again.
tell me what you think.
(this post is dedicated to my one and only)
parties I’m joining: