29 May 2006

Hope at A Song Not Scored for Breathing posted recently about her youngest son's girlfriend.

She ended it by writing,
I have no idea if youngest son and his girlfriend will be together for life. I know the odds of it are slim. Not many stay with the partners they had as young teens. There are obstacles galore if they marry as there are for any of us. But if nothing else youngest son's girlfriend has shown me what it looks like not to box someone in by destructive truth. I have much to learn from her.
I admire her for being so honest in so many ways. I admire her son for sticking up for his love, and for the girl, for defending her happiness. But then, I would.

When I was 17 and so in love, it wasn't that my mom didn't like my boyfriend; she just didn't take it seriously. After all, I was "only" 17. There was a lot else going on, of course... a lot. But one theme was fear: my mom's fear that I would get involved and either be an abandoned single mother, or get married and have babies and be poor and then be abandoned.

I wish she could have seen past her fears to support me in my love.

He and I never had a physical relationship. That was provided by the enterprising young woman who abstracted him for her own use. OK, so he wasn't very mature. In that I must admit my mother was right. But I needed him. He could love me and help me in ways no one else could, because he was my dearest friend, too. It was awful to lose him, one of the worst things to happen in my life.

I ended up going through the tough times my mother foresaw, only I did it without having anyone to shelter me in their arms. My husband didn't go in for that kind of thing. But it was okay, life is tough, you gotta expect that and put up with it ... after all, that's what my mother always said marriage is like, that's why you have to be so careful not to fall in love. There were no children, of course; mainly because I was afraid I'd be left to raise them alone. I suppose it's just as well. I have no idea what lies I would've told them.

Thirty-two years later, dearest one and I are together again. It is a miracle which humbles and awes and amazes. I do not deserve this joy... especially since so many are denied it. I could just as easily have been condemned to go through the rest of my life without holding him even once more.

At no time in my life have I not loved him. When the time came some years ago for me to face up to what I'd done with my life, the worst moments were those in which I had to surrender to the stark realization that we'd never so much as brewed a pot of coffee together, and likely never would. One of the reasons I'd been so circumspect while we were dating was that I feared the very bond Hope mentioned when she wrote, "...I know from experience there is a bond that happens once a relationship becomes sexual. Because of that I know the chances of them going their separate ways now would be much harder and more painful." We never exchanged intimate touch, he and I, but the bond was forged anyway. We looked wistfully for one another at times throughout the intervening 30 years. He even contacted me at one point. Letting him go without telling him the truth about my marriage, or acknowledging the love in his gaze, was the hardest thing I've ever done.

This post isn't intended to mean that I think Hope ought to do anything differently. I know myself well enough to know that, if I'd been a mother, I would have been the control freak from hell, and made her look almost negligent by comparison.

Maybe that's why God had to make us wait, my dear one and me, until we were older, sadder, wiser. While respecting a mother's apprehensions and acknowledging her experience, I also know what it's like to be parted from the man you love just because someone else thinks it's better that way - someone who cannot take your turn at life if they're mistaken.

There were a lot more factors than just my mother's anxieties all those years ago. She was right; I was too young. I was too young to realize how her hurts and worries were clouding her judgment. I was too young to know that, in my friend, I had the love of a lifetime. I couldn't know that the best person to be with in life is a close, supportive, fun, easygoing friend, nor did I have the kind of experience that tells me now how ideal a companion my friend is for me. (Not for everyone, but for me.) And I had no way to understand what my mother had been through in her long, grueling marriage, or appreciate how her experiences were coloring her emphatic warnings.

Knowing all that, after a long, grueling marriage of my own, makes it easy to forgive. Having my dearest love restored to me after so long makes it imperative. God has a way of making crooked lines smooth, and filling in the gaps between the good we think we see, and what really is good. We can speak the truth in love; but then, we must let go. People must be free to make their own choices. We tend to think that, once made, a choice is forever; it's not. Sometimes, people can make other choices, when they're ready, when the time comes. At all times, the loving support of family makes it easier to make good choices. Support includes telling the truth, in love. Support also means continuing to love, even when our hard-won advice is rejected or ignored. Like, you know, Jesus does. ;)


Pru said...

"Support also means continuing to love, even when our hard-won advice is rejected or ignored."

That sentence is powerful.

This post is too.

Hope said...

Thank you for saying things I needed to hear.