My husband and I had a whirlwind romance. From first date to ring on the finger was 30 days...maybe 29. In fact, it was April Fool’s Day when I came back to work after our engagement and I slapped my heavy hand down on every person’s desk I could find, letting the diamond do the talking. The response was the same over and over again;
“Oh, yeah, right. APRIL FOOLS!”
And I could have been offended, but seeing as how they might have sneezed and missed the courtship, their surprise was understandable.
Everything was perfect. The ring was fantastic, we loved to kiss and he was a good foot taller than me, so I would never have to tell a pair of high heels, “No.” And I could see the forecast—blue skies, light breezes and 72 degrees. Forever more.
Then came the honeymoon.
Sterling held open the truck door for me, and I promptly sat on his prescription sunglasses, breaking them in two. We spent the first night in Salt Lake then headed off to Disneyland in a small cab with no air conditioning. We got lost, and at 2:00 am, decided to spend the night in Vegas. Imagine my surprise when he exited off the freeway, drove one block, then promptly rolled right back up the onramp.
“Wait. What are you doing? I though we were spending the night in Las Vegas?”
“Wow, I uh, I just can’t do that, Lis. That whole thing was...bad. That’s bad. That whole thing is really bad. Way too many cars and buildings and there’s no way I’ll ever find our hotel, so I think we’ll just drive to another city, okay?”
Turns out there is no other city. What there IS, is a rest stop for truckers. And newlyweds. And as I lay in a bed made of luggage, while mosquitos and exhaust fumes fanned me unconscious, I just remember one thought ever present in my mind:
“Touch me and die, Sterling.”
The honeymoon got a little bit worse every day. Perpetual traffic jams, a hotel housekeeping staff that didn’t understand locked doors and searing desert heat that drove me to instruct Sterling to pull over, so I could get out of the truck to scream.
We drove home three days early and nearly silent—the only sound being the muscles twitching around our eyeballs. About five minutes from our apartment, he pulled into a convenience store to top off his Big Gulp, which had held, and I am NOT exaggerating, THREE MILLION OUNCES of Pepsi over the five day trip.
So I said, “Don’t you think you’ve had enough Pepsi?” And he replied, “I’ll have as damn well many Pepsis as I please.”
And that was it.
We knew we had passed the test, and it could only get better from that point on.
Turns out that wasn’t actually true. But being babes in our relationship, that was the most adversity we could handle, and Heavenly Father wisely kept the boils at bay, until we were tempered.
‘Course, the boils do come. This week, I’ll be attending a fund raising event for a friend who is struggling through his third critical illness in as many years, while an anxious wife and children stand steady by his side, wondering how many more months...or weeks...or days...they get to keep him as their own.
I also watch from afar as a young couple takes their firstborn son daily to the hospital, planning for painful surgeries that weigh down their shoulders with financial and emotional burdens which far surpass truck stops and desert heat and too many ounces of caffeine and carbonation.
And I know there was a time when fluffy wedding dresses and small kitchen appliances were all they had on their minds. Their skies were blue and their love was untried and the fact that she had pretty white teeth seemed reason enough to fall in love...
...which leads to the conversation we had with our eldest son who mourned an abrupt end to his own recent whirlwind romance, bless his heart. Yes, you can fall in love with many, many people. And you can make it work—be happy, in fact—with many, many people. As long as skies are fair and conditions are favorable.
However, there will surely come a time when the blue sky turns mottled, gray and purply black with storm clouds on the horizon. And when that happens, trust will trump teeth and laughter must heal...and the hand you hold will be a lot warmer if it belongs to your best friend.
Mottled, gray, purply black and blue. Basically, a giant bruise. But everyone who has ever suffered a bruise knows it is a source of tenderness. And tender marriages make for tender hearts which have the most difficult time crusting over with hardness.
Yes, you can fall in love with many people. As long as skies are fair and conditions are favorable. But to STAY in love, when your journey together has left your souls bruised and battered? Well, that’s the sort of thing eternity is made of.
And what good is love, if you can’t have it forever?