I spent a recent sunny September Sunday in love. It was someone else’s love - the wedding day of a great friend and her long-time boyfriend - but we all felt included in it. The bride and groom were so happy - he grinned non-stop, and practically dragged his son and their flower girl down the garden path that served as an aisle, wearing a look that said ‘let’s get married already’.
He radiated readiness, and there is nothing so moving as a man who is ready, who is so filled with love’s forward momentum that he doesn’t blink in the face of the doors it closes (other women) and the ones it flings open (children, shared property).
And Mandy, the bride, wore that massive smile she wears every time she mentions his name.
They’ve had so many reasons not to move forward, not to light up at the mention of one another’s name. Not because they’ve had an unusually hard relationship, but because their love is real. And real love looks nothing like it does on our big screens. It includes all those good things we dream about, but also the moments that made them question whether they should be together, tested what they could survive together, made each other suffer…and each time these darker sides of love assaulted them, they found a way to love it all away.
This picture says it all, and sums up for me why a good love is worth suffering through, and for.
The thing is they didn’t do it alone, and perhaps they couldn’t. They had friends, siblings, exes who loved their love as much as they did, and who reminded them of its worth when they forgot, and who reassured them that they were worthy of it. And maybe it helped that they had a little boy to think of - his son from a previous relationship. As the groom said to his son that evening, ‘Zach, you made us a family before we officially became one’. Snif.
I think real love is a community effort - we need the people in our lives to help us live it to its fruition when it makes sense, and to end it when it doesn’t. Maybe that help comes from your best friend, maybe it comes from your partner’s ex.
It doesn’t matter, as long as it comes.