When I was a young woman, I loved a good romance...or actually I loved bad romances. Specifically, I loved Barbara Cartland, Harlequin Romances, and the queen of romance - Danielle Steele. I would sigh and cry and wail and gush all through those pages. Today, I still love a good romance, but I prefer the more non-traditional stories. Something that talks of what real life does to love, how love survives or dies, or is revived during the course of the normal human life. It is not really the initial falling in love story that those romance novels focused on that captures me now, it is the story of enduring love...friendship...deep and abiding commitment that struggles to sustain a relationship while the most horrifying events, or perhaps even the most mundane events, tear away at it.
I think that's why I'm so fascinated by Laura and John.
[side note: Laura reads this blog, and is an intensely private person, so I'm going to start by asking her forgiveness of the use of their story here. And I ask that she trust that I'm relaying it because it is a story that speaks to so many and must be told!]
Laura and John met as teenagers and were destined to love one another. Like a sappy romance story, their pictures tell of youth, vitality, a love over distance, a love that survived military duty and hardship, a love that survived losses and changes and strife. And then, after 20+ years, the contract of marriage was just no longer strong enough to hold these two together. Unlike the soap operas of today, there was no murder, no mayhem, no betrayal of vows, there was just the wearing down of a marriage between two individuals whose paths diverged.
As friends to them both, we tried so hard to help, but the truth is, there is not much you can do. You can offer support, solace, a shoulder, an ear, but you can't fix things for people and often when you try, you make them worse. For 2-3 years we watched from the sidelines as lawyers and courts and officials became the only bridge between these two. In the middle of all of this time, John proclaimed to Hubby that he just wanted to get through this period and get beyond it to when he and Laura could be friends again. Hubby and I thought John needed to get a clue. We really did not believe it would ever happen.
John proved us wrong.
After months of wrangling through lawyers, Laura and John finally met directly to sort out the divorce terms. And there, sitting across the table from one another, they saw their partner rather than their adversary. Ironically, it was the signing of the final decree that brought them back into one another's lives. Suddenly they were working together again toward a common goal. They understood one another's logic, one another's limits, and one another's point of view. Slowly, they began to re-build their bond - first with a little bit of trust, then rediscovered friendship, and eventually and happily - their love.
Today, they are happily unmarried and together. Most importantly, they have learned to talk to one another and to say they are sorry...to be careful and appreciative of one another in a whole new way. And today, they look forward to another 20+ years together in their newly defined relationship.
To me, that is a REAL love story. A story of young love surviving the first 20 years, and a story of mature love enriched with a deeper appreciation and understanding that has come to them as a hard won reward.
Laura and John, we are so happy to see you in this new place, and wish you all the best in your new and improved love.