Wednesday, July 9, 2014

…thoughts on soul-mates, apologies and real love



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.




This 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

“is a crock.”


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?

Do you believe in soul mates?

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:



Unknown said...

Honestly, so much about this article made me want to cry are a wonderful & very wise writer who really has a way of getting to the heart of stuff.

I want to read & re-read what you have said...and your posts have made me feel that way many times before.

I am so sorry for your loss, what a terribly young age....I feel very sad for your family.

Your insights on growing up today are spot on, I agree with it all....and I am going to have my 13 year old read this. She is having a hard time with life right now & we are having a hard time with her.

I love what you say about marriage...really love it.

And that sunset photo is stunning.

So glad I read this just now, thank you....and happy anniversary Xx

robyn said...

I so look forward to your posts. Thanks for sharing!

Karen said...

If only I could express myself as well as someone who has been married 41 years to the same man and still having fun, so much of what you said resonated with me. I think your advice to your sons will be heard, our sons, now both married, said they learned from watching their father and me.
I am so saddened whenever I hear of a young life lost. My sympathy to you and your family.
Ahhh, Love Story. I wanted to look like Ali McGraw (shoot, still would like to, she's aged beautifully) but with red, natural curly hair, that was't going to happen. Yep, that line was a cheesy flaw in the movie.

Unknown said...

You are fabulous, Leslie...and yes I do believe in soul husband and I have been married now for 27 years and through all the ups and downs, joys and sadness the constant has been his wonderful ability to always make me laugh...laughter, kindness and respect...what is more important.
I'm so sorry for your loss; such a young age to lose someone dear...sending you my love xx

Anonymous said...

Leslie...that was a beautiful post. I was moved by it deeply, especially your quote "being kind is more important than being right" I sure need to remember that. Thank you. I was 14 when Love Story came out and that line has always stuck with me...not so sure I believed it. My husband and I will celebrate 41 years of marriage in a few weeks. I'm sorry for your loss and wish you all the best.

Susan Nowell @ My Place to Yours said...

Leslie, "yes" -- to everything. Beautifully said. I can feel the emotion, the questions, and the "getting back up again" in your words. I'm so very sorry for your family's loss...

Anonymous said...

So very sad to hear of a young man passing, to many hopes and dreams end. My deepest condolences to his family. Yes, I thought that line was untrue and confused me, even as a 10 year old. We were taught to say I'm sorry to sisters, friends and we loved them, right? The child I was thought the adults knew something else. None of us really know anything, we wing it as we go, stumble, fall and if we're lucky enough, get help on the way up. Beautiful sunset, thank you for the picture. Hugs, Patty/NS

Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

What a sweet and tender post Leslie! But I am so sorry for your loss. Death at such a young age is so heartbreaking. As for soul mates - absolutely! I've been married to mine for 35 years now. And yes, he still makes me laugh! I think we all wanted to be Ali MacGraw back then. How can she be 75? And yes, sometimes you do need to say you are sorry. Relationships are an investment that take time and effort. And I do wonder about the pace of life and the impact of technology on families and relationships today. If that makes me sound old, well maybe that's because I am getting old. But hopefully wisdom comes with age too. I see Megan making a very conscious effort with her little family to keep things as simple as possible and keep the focus on each other. They are making time for the little magical moments - like sunsets on the beach. And that just makes me smile!

Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces said...

Oh this is a wonderful post, put to words so many of my thoughts. Happy Anniversary! I remember seeing Love Story as a young newlywed...seems like so long ago...yet only yesterday. Your reflections on marriage are so true.

I'm very sorry to hear about your nephew, such a hard thing for a family to go through. xo

Blondie's Journal said...

You are spot on with your thoughts about marriage in so many ways. And yes, I never understood that line in love story. We NEED to say we are doesn't always leave us speechless!

Not sure where you were going with your sons and social media with regards to your marriage and anniversary (and Happy Anniversary!!). Maybe you can explain further in an email. Of course I never doubt your wonderful ability to write poignantly, just got a little lost there.

And I'm so sorry for your loss. So young. Life is so filled with twists and tunes, for better or worse. A lesson learned so soon for so many.

Jane xx

AntiqueChase said...

So sorry about your nephew. That is heartbreaking at such a young age.

Unknown said...

leslie, i am so very sorry about your nephew. thank you for sharing such a special, heartfelt story. very true. and you are very lucky to have found (+ kept) your soulmate! xxx

cindy hattersley design said...

I am so sorry for your liss to lose one so young is heartbreaking.

Marilyn said...

I have always found your posts to be thought-provoking and heart felt, but today's post is a masterpiece. You write with such eloquence and elegance. I often go back to re-read your posts and no doubt, will re-visit this one as well.

My deepest sympathies to you and your family during this difficult time.

Marilyn (in Dallas)

karen@somewhatquirky said...

First, congrats on 26 years! That takes a lot of commitment to relationship maintenance! Second, I agree totally with everything you said. I'm sure I've said it all at one time or another, but not so eloquently! I think we may be twins separated at birth - born in 58 with very wavy hair. And third, I'm so sorry for your loss.

Art and Sand said...

The line that resonated with me was about not remembering a time when you weren't together. Steve and I have been married for 43 years - marrying way too young at 22, both just out of college. We feel like we grew up together because neither of us knew who we were or who we wanted to become when we were 22. And we are still becoming who we will be.

Beautiful sunset . . . beautiful words . . . so sorry for the loss of your nephew.

I know you have so much going on right now and I wish you peace and relaxation in this stage of your life.

Sarah said...

Leslie, I read this the other night, but couldn't comment. I'm sad to hear of your loss. I send my condolences to you and your family.
As with all your posts, I savored every word you shared here. So many wonderful thoughts about relationships ….. the importance of laughter, kindness, listening, being willing to apologize, and the realization of no longer remembering a time when you weren't together. Happy Anniversary, you two!
Thanks for sharing the link to the MacGraw / O'Neal interview. Great photo! I was right out of college, and the book and movie were such a hit. I met Ali MacGraw a few summers ago in Santa Fe. She remains on of my favorite stars. It's refreshing to see this remarkable woman age so effortlessly.

Carla from The River said...

You have done it again...right to the heart of the matter. :-)
I agree with you regarding the relationship building. Face to face, taking time to just listen to that person (with out checking your phone)
I pray for our kids. The world seems so different, or maybe I am old?? At times I wish for the old days.

My husband and I are Best Friends, we had different relationships with our parents, and we found help and understanding with each other.

Thank you for sharing.
Sending my love and prayers. I am sorry for your loss.

Unknown said...

Yes, yes and yes to all of this tear jerking wisdom. My soul mate can make me laugh and it's vital. You don't have a strong 36 year marriage without struggles. I'm so sorry about your nephew. These unplanned, unfathomable tragedies do shake us to the core. Sending love you way.
Please do me a favor...turn around so I can yank that target off your back.
Much love,

Sarah said...

Leslie, I meant to say something about Bell Hooks quote. Sage advice! I was given this advice when I first graduated from college and was living alone. Learning to live with yourself first is a healthy lesson. One learns how to entertain oneself, but most importantly how to be independent. It's so easy to fall into a relationship of letting someone "take care" of you. It's vital to know that you can take care of yourself!
I continue to think of these wise words and thoughts that you shared here. Your boys are fortunate to have a mom who is so well grounded and wise.

michele said...

tears. good tears but hard tears. so much truth and grit here. and it resonates. i'm so sorry for your loss. i honor the grief which must be yours. i honor the accomplishment of a marriage anniversary. i honor your honesty about how social media is messing with intimacy in ways i never dreamed. it has muddled some things in my life which are too important to be muddled. it is such a tool of manipulation, of effective communication for sure, but i'm not sure the costs outweigh the good. what a crock that love story byline was and is. saying sorry and becoming vulnerable and submissive is the key to helping love stay. peace to you.

Donna@anangloinquébec said...

Yes Leslie, a crock for sure. Maybe that is why so many marriages don't work out. I could not begin to count the number of times my husband and I have had to express regret to one another over something we did or said in haste or the heat of the moment. I was married at 24 years of age and had plenty of opportunity to call it quits when I saw so many around me doing so but we have hung in there and perhaps become somewhat of an oddity in today's world.

I am sorry to hear about the passing of your nephew. We really don't know the future, do we? I think sometimes we like to believe that we do but it is moments like that when it all comes tumbling down to the reality of how uncertain and tenuous life can be.

So Leslie, the fact that you take time to go and see the setting sun and capture the beauty of that moment confirms to me that you are living in the moment and not taking for granted those truly beautiful opportunities that present themselves to us. That is something that I think Social Media has perhaps stolen from today's youth. Will seeing a sunset on Pinterest satisfy them or will they too get up and head to the beach to see with their own eyes the changing colours in the sky as the sun appears to drop below the horizon?

Richella Parham said...

Love this post, Leslie! It's more like "Love is always being willing to say you're sorry," right? A beautiful post. Thanks so much for sharing it at Grace at Home--I'm featuring you this week!

Calypso In The Country said...

Leslie, I read this post the other day and then had to run out so I didn't get a chance to leave a comment. But your story and words have been on my mind and I wanted to start by saying that I am so sorry for your loss. I lost one of my best friends 20 years ago and when someone so young passes, it can be even more difficult to accept.
Your whole post was so inspiring (as always) and I love your comments about marriage and your advice to your sons. As a mother of two boys I am always interested to hear what you have to say in that department!
The beach photos are gorgeous and happy anniversary to you both!

Unknown said...

Wow - I am still wiping my tears after reading this post. This was beautiful and so true. Thank you for sharing your wonderful thoughts.


Gypsy Heart said...

I am so very sorry for your loss. I know the feeling of losing someone that had their whole life ahead. My heart goes out to your entire family.

You write so beautifully and I agree with all you've said. I was older than you when the movie came out but even though I was very young in age and experience, I knew that line was so not true. A relationship/marriage requires much of each person and sometimes an "I'm sorry" makes the sun shine again. Thanks so much for sharing!


Unknown said...

Leslie, I caught this post while away in Portugal and wanted to come back to comment. I am so deeply sorry for your loss and the loss experienced by your family. You are a beautiful writer and capture the bittersweet nature of life, love and loss in this post. Thank you for sharing this intimate piece. I agree about the soul mates. It's taken me 3 'trys' to find him and we still have to work at it, just as we all do. Hugs today, xx

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