Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Anti-Fairy Tale

"It's not always rainbows and butterflies, but compromise that moves us

-Maroon 5

Teresa was almost 10 when I was born. Though I wasn't as close to her as my oldest sister, we had a good relationship. She began dating Brian when she was 16 and I was six. Whenever he'd come to the house to pick her up, he would try to steal a kiss from me. He would use whatever means necessary, like bribing me with stuffed animals and tricking me into hiding my eyes. He became like a brother to me.

Two years later Teresa became pregnant and they were married right after she graduated high school. They bought a trailer house and moved to a small town not far from where he worked. A baby boy was born in November and so began their family. Three more boys followed. It wasn't a perfect life, but it was a good one.

Eighteen years later, Brian develops a cough. The doctor treated it like the flu, but it wouldn't go away. As it turns out, it was a tumor pressing against his esophagas. A malignant one.

Nine months later, Brian left Teresa and the four boys. She was a widow at 36.

Brian has been gone for almost six years. Teresa has been dating Mike for about two years. They got engaged in December after an on again/off again relationship. A month later she tells me she gave him the ring back, saying she didn't love him. She still loved Brian. A few weeks later she is wearing the ring again asking me to be the matron of honor in June.

I like Mike. He's very sweet and treats her like a queen. But I don't think she loves him. I don't think he's a good match for her. I don't think they should get married. She knows my thoughts on this. But it is her decision to make. So we've spent the past few weeks getting everything ready for a wedding set to happen this Saturday.

The dress is bought.

The chapel is booked.

The invitations have all been sent.

And Sunday night she called it off.

As of yesterday, it was back on.

My initial reaction was to roll my eyes. It's beginning to feel like an episode from Days of Our Lives. But the more I talk this out, the more my heart hurts for her.

She had a love that was rare and special and beautiful. Not perfect, but seems that way in light of her grief. She wants it again, but doesn't know if it can happen twice in a lifetime. And if it can, does that make it less rare? She wants to let go, but can't. And then she doesn't want to let go. Does letting go mean she doesn't love Brian anymore? Is it okay to love someone else?

And what if it's not that special, magical kind of love feeling you see in the movies? Maybe it's the kind of love that makes her feel safe, secure and not so alone.

Maybe she doesn't feel butterflies. Maybe she doesn't get weak in the knees. Maybe she's not dying to jump into bed with him. Maybe she just likes being with him. And maybe something more will grow out of it.

It might seem dull and un-romantic on the surface, but as people who are constantly looking for instant gratification and self-fulfillment, maybe we have fooled ourselves about love and marriage.

To my sister and her new husband-to-be: May they have a long and happy marriage together. One that grows from friendship, respect and the willingness to take on life together. May God bless them.


heartsjoy said...

LOVE LOVE your new site! As far as your sis, I know this must be hard...wanting the best for her but wanting to support her decision whatever! Thank you for sharing with us so we can also be in prayer for her.

MommaB said...

I will say a special prayer for your sister. I'll also lift a special one up for you as you stand by and love and support her in spite of your personal fears and worries. If you can, keep us posted now and then on how she is doing. (By the way... missed your posts for the past few days... now I see you've been busy being a wedding coordinator!)

Diana said...

That's got to be rough. I was engaged to my high school sweet heart, and broke it off. I couldn't do it, we grew into two different people.
I think maybe your sister is afraid of "letting go" of Brian, which she doesn't have to. He can still be her heart...
Hope to hear about the wedding, if it happens.
Wishing them happiness, especially to your sister.

Cheerio's on my butt? said...

Oh wow. This is sad. I was talking to my husband the other day about why I would never marry again if he died. I understand how she feels. I have a marriage that's rare. I have no doubt that someone can love again even after that, but the thought of having to move their beloved spouse to the side and not be allowed to have them "there" (pictures etc.) anymore, or think about them when you please, or cry for them, is unbearable. Not to mention to have to change your name to someone elses! I just don't think I could do it and then on top of that it would not be fair to the new spouse either. I know this doesn't help any on their upcoming marriage, and I understand that there are different types of love. Which are just as wonderful. Maybe it wouldn't be soo hard for her if she didn't have to feel like she was giving up her old love for a new, but perhaps forming a new kind of life to add to the old one. If he is respectful and unjealous about the past and her previous life than it has a chance to be something good for your sister. I ache for her and I wish her happiness to and I hope it is great and that he is sensitive to her feelings. He sounds great. Best wishes to her.

Andreia said...

I lost my brother in what will be 3 years in August. My sister in law is caring for 3 kids alone. Almost immediately, she began to date. It was very hard on everyone in my family, but we did our best to support her.

At Christmas she announced she was engaged to a guy she met on the Internet. By April, the wedding was off.

I have had the same feeling as you of frustration with her and like you, the more I talk to her, the more I feel empathy.

It is a tough, tough road to be a widow. I pray for peace for them both and for you as well to continue to be a soft place to land.

Mama of 2 said...

I feel for your sister. I can't imagine what it would be like to lose a husband at such a young age.

I imagine the quandry she's in right now and how difficult it must be for you doing your best to support her and still having your own opinion.

I wasn't keen on the person my sister married (it will be 2 years this Oct.) none of my family was but we had to step back and believe that she knew her own mind and I wish the same thing for your sister.

As for her letting Brian go. I don't think that you ever really do that. He will always have a piece of her heart and I believe that's okay.

Michelle- This One's For The Girls said...

I read this yesterday and it made me so sad. My first reaction was to say, "DON'T DO IT!!" I have a friend who married badly (2nd marriage) a while back and about two years into the marriage she told me, "The only thing worse than being single is being married to the wrong man." But then I re-read what you wrote:

"Maybe she doesn't feel butterflies. Maybe she doesn't get weak in the knees. Maybe she's not dying to jump into bed with him. Maybe she just likes being with him. And maybe something more will grow out of it.

It might seem dull and un-romantic on the surface, but as people who are constantly looking for instant gratification and self-fulfillment, maybe we have fooled ourselves about love and marriage."

I remembered that sometimes people marry for more pragmatic reasons than just romance. If he is good to her and her children...if He will be a loving father to those children...if she enjoys his friendship and companionship...maybe it's good.

But I still could never do it.

I guess I'm too independent in that way--but if I wasn't head over heels, I'd rather try to make it on my own. (Or at least until the life insurance ran out...) Having never been through this situation, I know all of my thoughts are completely in the world of the theoretical. Give me a couple of years of being a single mom and ask me again. Then again, don't.

HeartsDesire said...

Oh, how hard a decision it must be. My dad's grandma (who raised my dad) had a choice of marrying the wrong man, whom she loved, and the right man, whom loved her. She let her children decide. They picked the right man, and I don't know if my granny ever loved him, but he loved those kids and her and my dad when he came along. Maybe it was a marriage of convenience, I don't know, but sometimes going in knowing that you arn't really in love is not all that bad. It's certainly better than going in head over heals and finding out it wasn't really true love. Sounds like Brian loves her even if she doesn't love him. I wish her the best and I too, will say a prayer for her.

Heth said...

Oh my goodness. I can't imagine how hard it must be for your sister. The emotions she is feeling must be so confusing. I wish her the best.

Michelle said...

I liked what Gwendolyn had to say. As some know, I did not marry with butterflies in my tummie, but assurance from God that this is where He wanted me. It has been a challang at times, but he is an awsome man, great father and his hearts desire is to obey God! Love is an investment, is an acction, a verb. Butterflies are hormones. Yup, a prayer for your sister's situation has just gone up from this desk. May she do the right thing.

Slughorn said...

About twenty years ago, a wise woman told me, "There's not a right person for you; there's a right TYPE."

If he's the right type for her, then it will be okay.

I truly believe that. After all, with a world population of 6,000,000,000, what would the odds be of every meeting the ONE right person.

dcrmom said...

Heartbreaking story. But I like your perspective at the end. I wish them peace and happiness.