To celebrate Valentine's Day at the TV station, my colleague and dear friend Craig O'Neill is researching a story called, "How to Choose a Mate." It airs February 14. So far, he's interviewed four couples who have each been married 40+ years.
I'm such a cynic. And Craig is sick of me. We sit next to each other each day, and I just know he's tired of my eye rolls each time he talks about the couples, recounting their beautiful love stories. When I snicker and pretend to gag when he tells me of the sixty-some years one of the couples has been together, he laughs. But I think he's the one who's disgusted with me.
He desperately wants me to believe in love. And I do believe in love. Really, I do. Seriously. I know love is out there. I know it is. But for me?
Craig has an intimate, unique little spot in my life. Sure, we work together. He's been a great friend. He's a little like a dad, my TV dad. But he's also watched my life implode, explode, and slowly be re-built over the past four or five years. He's been by my side every night on air and every step of the way personally. He knows when I'm a wreck, he knows when I'm happy. And he knows I believe. Deep down, I do. Yet I doubt every single day.
I guess it's because of history. My history and that of my closest girlfriends. I can count on one hand the soul sisters I'd trust with my life. We all have children. Each of them is beautiful, smart, deep and soulful. But only one of the five of us is still married. It's hard to believe in love again when we've lived the heartache, the mistakes, the grief, the sheer madness that the break-up of a family brings.
Those couples Craig interviewed say that what kept them together - in no particular order - include God, a sense of humor, unusual fights, daily -sometimes hourly- ups and downs. No one had the sense they'd been married that long, and most say they had a 'feeling' about one another the day they met.
I had a 'feeling' about my future husband the moment we met. I believed God was guiding us at times. Our fights were weird, and we had a lot of ups and downs. Lord knows, it never, ever seemed like we were married as long as we were, which was 11 years. So why didn't we make it? This is what makes it tough for me to walk on, to carry on, to still believe. But what's the other choice, really?
I was once such a hopeless, ridiculous, dreamy romantic! I do believe that romantic soul is still deep down there, somewhere inside me. Maybe a bit more chiseled, a little more polished, a little wiser, a little less willing to give up so much for so little. I don't know what any of that means, but I do know that real, abiding love is all around me. It's the love I have for my children, my mother, my friends, even for my ex. It's a little gentler, a little kinder, a little less 'fantasy' than maybe it once was. A little more compassionate, a little more understanding, a lot more honest and genuine than even I thought and believed could ever exist.
Will it come in the form of another one day? I cannot ever know this. I don't really concern myself with it, and I won't even dare to dream. But I will believe that the kind of love I've always wanted is, indeed, right in front of my face, all around me, and for this, I am grateful. For this reason, I do believe, and I will follow my heart every single day.
No matter your circumstance, it's true that faith, hope, and love abide and also true that the greatest of these is love. That's the love I celebrate this Valentine's Day.