A few days ago I was talking to my sister. Among the many topics we discussed was the death of my Grandmother; how near the end she thought my father was her husband (who had been gone for over 20 years), and how she told him she was glad to see him because she believed that he had come to take her with him.
Honestly, in some ways that doesn’t even seem real. It seems like something out of a Nicholas Sparks novel or something.
But it happened.
That moment was at once sad and beautiful for me; the thought that near the end, someone’s thoughts would be with their husband/wife, and that they would find peace in the prospect of being reunited with that person. To me it spoke of a love and a bond that has survived for over 70 years.
And for many, that sort of love seems to be reserved for Hollywood movies and romance novels.
It got me wondering what their relationship was like when they were alive.
The truth is I have no idea.
My Grandfather has been gone for over 20 years; passing away while I was in university. I didn’t really see them interact much, or perhaps it’s more accurate to say I didn’t really pay attention to their interactions at the time. This may sound terrible, but back then I’m not sure if I really saw my grandparents (or parents for that matter) as real people, I saw them primarily through the roles they played in my life.
However although they were my grandparents they were also real people, and real people have problems.
They have highs, and lows. They have successes, and suffer disappointments. Real people tend to get short with each other when they are feeling stressed, and will sometimes say things they later regret.
So I’ll guess they had problems, both individually and as a couple. I’ll guess they had moments where they didn’t like each other very much. They may even have had moments where they wondered if they made a mistake, and if there was something different, and better out there.
I don’t really know though.
All I know is, a few days before my grandfather died I sat at the table with them in their kitchen, and they talked about their life together. I also know my grandmother was in pain when my grandfather passed away. And I know she seemed happy at the prospect of being reunited with him when she was dying.
What is a beautiful love story?
What does it look like to you?
It is about meeting your prince/princess charming, who will “complete you”, always love you, never hurt you, and will make your life wonderful?
That isn’t real. And is more about looking for someone to fill a hole inside you than it is about love.
Is it about meeting someone who will make your heart beat faster, where you can’t stop thinking about them and you want to be with them every waking moment?
That’s something that’s not sustainable, and is more about hormones and infatuation than it is about love.
Is it about traveling the world with someone, and having them shower you with gifts?
That’s about lifestyle, and money, and has little to do with love.
No, to me a beautiful love story looks a bit different from what you see in the movies.
To me a beautiful love story is about two people who share values and have a shared vision of the type of relationship they are looking for. And as they learn each other, they realize that they want share that vision with each other.
It’s about two people who meet and (over time) are willing to let their defenses down with each other; and to be authentic and vulnerable with each other. People who may still want the other person to like them, but see no need to pretend to be something they are not in order to achieve that. People who are willing to share their insecurities with each other, and know that although their partner may always push them to try to improve and be the best version of themselves, they are also able to accept them for who they are.
It’s about two people who have individual hopes and dreams, but also have shared goals. So they share the things they can while also supporting each other for the things they can’t share. Where one person gets joy not just from having their own needs and wants met, but also by being there to support their partner.
Real life isn’t like the movies. It’s often mundane, and day to day life is often routine. It can also be messy, as sickness and tragedy can strike at any time.
So in my love story people aren’t always happy, and they understand they don’t need to be. There are moments of joy, happiness, pain, disappointment, anger and sadness. There are times when one person will have to support the other, times where a couple will disagree, and times when they aren’t sure if they are going to make it.
But in my love story, people realize love doesn’t just happen. They realize it can be lost if it’s not nurtured. They realize that not only are we responsible for making love and affection a part of our everyday interactions, but we are also responsible for maintaining our feelings of love towards our partner.
In my love story each person focuses on who their partner is, instead of worrying about who they aren’t. And each person continues to choose the other, and continues to reach out to each other with love, each and ever day.
That’s my love story.
It may not be the stuff of Hollywood movies or romance novels.
But that doesn’t make it any less beautiful.
And if I can find that?
Then maybe I will have found someone who (hopefully a long time from now) will miss me when I am gone, and will find peace in the prospect of one day being reunited with me.
Because that type of love is a love that endures.