I once heard two boys talking as they gazed through a fence at some girls playing. After surveying the situation, one boy asked the other, “whaddya wanna do?” The second boy replied, “Let’s throw rocks at ‘em!”
This was generally my way of courtship through my teens. Slowly though I came to express love through other means. For instance, I played basketball with my wife-to-be on the day we met. Since she was recovering from ACL knee surgery, I was able to beat her soundly. But, she got better and the games became more competitive.
Our 37th year together has been a stormy one. Karen and I took turns driving each other to the hospital for pre-op and surgeries. Surgeries began long ago for her. She is strong and tough as nails. It was only a few days after we met that she showed me the scar that transects her knee vertically with a graceful wave. I thought it was hideous at first but now I love it. It’s kind of beautiful. Like a meandering lane in the Scottish Highlands.
It is 4:30 am and we are driving to the hospital, again, and I tell her, “in sickness and in health” and she nods yes. My bride came with a scar so I thought I understood in sickness and in health. I did not. But the storms of love have taught us the deeper meaning of those marriage vows. Karen loves storms, so I guess I enjoy them also. We relax on the backyard deck and watch a towering wall cloud spin. We watch this like it is cinema, a lightning show, children seeing fireworks for the first time. We watch the cumulonimbus seemingly hovering over our pond, and yet it is fifty miles to our east. What is it about this vortex of unchained clouds and lightning and beautiful instability that reminds me so much of life? We talk of the reverent and the irreverent, all at once…and we realize in that moment of awe, that we are right where we want to be, together and still in love.
Everyone expresses love in their own way. My love language is touch. I am continually frustrated however, in my inability to express love verbally. Mostly, my attempts sound like my brother-in-law toasting his new bride at their wedding reception. “Debbie, I love you as much as my dog Toby.”
And then there are those who express love in words that really are lovely and romantic:
“If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.” Jane Austen, Emma
“He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.” Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
“He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed like a flower and the incarnation was complete.” The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Austen, Tolstoy, Fitzgerald…awesome.
But let me close with words by G. Keillor because it reminds me not only of a summer night with my love, but of so many other moments that I could never have anticipated 37 years ago:
A summer night, and you, and paradise, So lovely and so full of grace,
Above your head, the universe has hung its lights,
And I reach out my hand to touch your face.
I believe in impulse, in all that is green,
Believe in the foolish vision that comes true,
Believe that all that is essential is unseen,
And for this lifetime I believe in you.
All of the lovers and the love they made:
Nothing that was between them was a mistake.
All that is done for love’s sake,
Is not wasted and will never fade.
O love that shines from every star,
Love reflected in the silver moon:
It is not here, but it’s not far.
Not yet, but it will be here soon.