Last night, a coworker asked me and Doug to tell her our love story.
“I accosted her at the baler on like her second day,” Doug said, and we launched into the funny anecdote of how we met. (“I turned around and he was standing there, and he was like, ‘How old are you?! Me and the new guy have a bet…'” “It wasn’t the new guy; Tristan wasn’t new!” “It wasn’t Tristan, you said it was Jimmy. And anyway, it doesn’t matter because you’d made the whole thing up.” “No. I mean, there wasn’t a bet, but we really were talking about it.” “Jimmy denied all of it. Anyway, he said, ‘He thinks you’re like 18 or 19, but I said early 20s.’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m 25, which is actually mid-20s, so does that mean I win?’ To this day, he still owes me a dollar.”)
“And then we started going out drinking a lot after work,” Doug continued, “and sitting in our cars talking and sobering up until like 4 in the morning.”
Conveniently, we left out the part where I was married.
Later in the evening, I went back to the same coworker and gave her the address to this blog. “If you like stories – it’s not a love story, per se, but there might be some love stories in it.”
She got really excited, calling after me as I went back to work, “I love love stories! Thank you so much, Marie!”
When I told Doug this, he predicted she would be sorely disappointed: “That’s not our love story.”
“I know, but…”
Yes, it is.
The story that we tell people when they ask how we met is funny, sure, but it’s not our love story. That’s the story of our initial attraction, and a relationship which, at first, was built on sex and lies. I don’t discredit the events of that early stage – sex and lies have their place in the dating world, and they certainly played an important role in getting us to where we are today.
But I am not going to tell my children, “Well, Daddy knew Mommy was married to someone else, but Mommy wasn’t happy, so Daddy made up a story and went after her anyway.” At least not until they’re in their 20s and dealing with similar issues, and need to know that their parents, too, were human once and made mistakes.
Sure, a story about a miscarriage isn’t the romantic swept-her-off-her-feet love story that our coworker was probably looking for. But the truth is, lots of love stories include tragedy – and not just tragedy at the end, like Romeo and Juliet or Autumn in New York. Sometimes, the tragedy happens in the middle of the story, and it’s something that the hero and heroine must struggle to overcome, and in the end, it brings them closer, for having overcome it together.
So what I am going to be proud to tell my children, is this:
Mommy and Daddy hadn’t been dating for very long when they thought Mommy was going to have a baby. And Daddy wasn’t scared, and that’s when he knew he was going to love Mommy forever. Then God decided it wasn’t time for Mommy and Daddy to have a baby yet, so He took the baby away. And Mommy was really sad, and she cried a lot, and sometimes she got angry and threw things. And Daddy still stayed with her, and held her hand and hugged her while she cried, and picked up the things that she threw, and kept right on loving her. And he promised her that someday, things would be better and they would have a baby. And then we had you, and we all lived happily ever after.”
And that, my friends, is a real-life love story.
And today, I am grateful for the gift of story-telling.