When I was 15, I fell in love for the first time. We spent our afternoons driving to Sonic for Route 44 Cherry Limeades with the windows down, blaring country music, imagining we were living a country song. We passed adorably folded notes in school addressed to “Babe” and “Baby” that were just cleverly rephrased conversations from the previous passing period. We fell asleep on the phone, our voices getting quieter and quieter as the hours passed, until finally one of us would hang up with a smile and a sigh.
It was true love.
Then I moved.
We stayed together for a few extra months, until distance tore us apart. Still, we kept in touch and played the on and off game for a few more years, each break-up more dramatic, more devastating than the last.
I thought I’d never get over him. I thought I’d love him forever. I thought we’d find our way back to one another eventually. I thought we were a country love song.
Then I fell in love again.
(I can’t help it. I guess I’m kind of a hopeless romantic.)
It turns out we were a country love song, but the song was over.
When I got married, I promised to love my husband forever. I promised to love him in sickness and in health. For better or for worse. Until death do us part. As long as we both should live.
I made those promises with a very vague notion of their actual meaning. In sickness? Sure, the flu’s not so bad. For worse? Well, all couples struggle. Until death? Gosh, that’s so far away!
It wasn’t long before I found out that sickness was cancer. Worse was far worse than I could have imagined. Death was too near, too possible.
And things were hard – really, really hard. But they were also better because, as a result, I learned how to love my husband. I learned how to talk to him. I learned to hear the things he said and those he didn’t. I learned when to give him space and when to smother him with affection. I learned how to be his friend, as well as his wife.
I learned what true love really was.
And sometimes we’ll load the kid in the truck, roll the windows down, and blare country music on our way to Sonic.
And when the song ends, we’ll play it again. Every day for the rest of our lives, until death do us part.