August 31, 2014 § 4 Comments
Make that forever and ever.
Committing my forever to you is the highest compliment my heart can pay yours, isn’t it?
Songwriters and novelists, including me, enshrine that moment of gob-smacked love over and over, and then the story or song ends, because whether requited or un, the state of being hopelessly afflicted with love is the cherry on the hot fudge sundae. As good as it gets.
In those artistic depictions of love we hold each other eternally (which would make it hard to cook dinner). We stand, for all time, on the platform and listen to the rattle of the train that is taking the only one we will ever love away (which, again, would make cooking dinner hard).
Still, we yearn to gift someone with our forever. It is so thrilling, so total, so sincere.
But practically speaking? Gazing into someone’s eyes forever would be an incredible bore.
Real love is in constant flux. It grows and changes, or becomes tepid, leaving you to wonder, what the heck was I thinking?
And then it returns, in some new form, and you welcome it with open arms.
The value we place on a romantic forever shortchanges one of the best features of the human heart, which is its resilience—and one of the best aspects of forever, which is that it is thrilling because it is mercurial and brief.
When forever ends its departure creates a vacancy that must be filled.
I’m not saying that the ultimate loss of love, the death of a good partner, isn’t mourned forever. But the forever of mourning, like everything else, is different each day.
When my mother died my father grieved every day of his own remaining twelve years. But he also laughed. And got to know his children and grandchildren. He read books that engaged him and adopted a wonderful dog. Not as good as what he’d lost–but still good.
The heart, like any empty closet, cannot stay that way. Something will fill it.
But what about forever and ever and ever?
And then, gradually, the ceremony of cooking dinner for someone we know deeply replaces the starry gazing.
Those quiet times when love is less breathless and more nourishing are hard to sing about or build a compelling narrative around.
There are more songs about pickup trucks than grandchildren, or growing happily old together, or devotion to a cause or a place, and that’s a shame.
The only guarantee we have is that we will love for as long as we live (our brief version of forever).
And ain’t it grand.