I watched Grey's Anatomy's Valentine's Day show and set a record of crying twice in it--once at the 45 minute mark and once at the end. I couldn't get the show out of my mind and had to write this post.
The show was about a woman who was in a dead marriage and had gone to a restaurant to eat with her husband for Valentine's Day. They went there every Friday. Over the fifteen years of their marriage they said less and less to each other and now just ate in silence. At the same time, their waiter had been in love with the woman for many more years than that. He never said anything though. When the man proposed to the woman, the waiter was the on who put the ring in their creme brulee. He truly knew and loved, even adored this woman, yet kept silent.
At this particular Valentine's Day dinner (which was on a Friday), the roof fell in on the restaurant and everyone was taken to the hospital. The woman and the waiter ended up being in the same room together (the waiter bribed the doctor to be next to her). The waiter didn't want to do anything except to be close to the woman and keep her company while her husband was in surgery. He also let the doctor know that he would comfort the woman if her husband did not survive and she would never have to be alone if she didn't want to be. The waiter was particularly touching to me because he so obviously loved the woman in a profoundly giving and unselfish way. And the woman seemed to be a typical neglected middle-aged wife, unaware of someone so close by who had loved her for so long.
Well, when the waiter had told his story to the doctors, the woman had been pretending to sleep but was actually awake and heard his story of love for her. Two of the doctors became aware of this and took bets on what she would do. Would she declare her love for the waiter and choose to be loved? Or would she stick with the neglectful husband and choose duty? These appeared to be the two choices.
As the show progressed, the waiter was taken into surgery also and one of the doctors had a chance to talk to the woman alone. The woman explained that she too had loved the waiter so many years ago, but he had never declared his love for her so she didn't know. Then she met her husband and she fell in love with him and married him. Marriage is an every day choosing, she said, and she still today chose him. In fact, she said it was nice to sit with him on those Fridays at dinner and to not have to talk. It was her choice, she said, and she truly loved her husband. I could really tell that this was the case. Whether or not her husband cared for her or loved her back, she definitely loved him. I had the impression that even though her husband didn't truly know or care for her the way the waiter did, she still loved him.
Then later, the waiter died in surgery. The doctor who had spoken to the woman had to come to tell her. The woman accepted the news, and then when the doctor left, she fell apart, crying inconsolably. I understood her tears and cried my own as well.
The show brought to my mind and heart a truth about marriage. It is indeed something we choose every day. Every single day. I have been married three times and know three different marriages. I know how it feels to love my husband. I know how it feels to be loved by my husband. Sometimes those two have come together. Sometimes they haven't, even within the same marriage.
I know how it feels to choose duty over love and to lose a chance to be with someone who might really be able to love me back. And I know how it feels to choose love over duty and to abandon someone I deeply care for but to take the risk that I will be happier and be loved more by someone else. I have made both of these decisions.
What every woman wants is both to love and to be known and loved in return. At the same time, in the same marriage. If we do have both, we are so blessed! However, I do think that much of the time, we have to choose. I know that I have had to make this choice. Do we choose the man whom we love in the marriage we are in even though we are not ever really truly known or loved in return? Or do we step out and take a chance to be loved in return by someone who obviously seems to love us and whom we think we love or could love in return? As I wrote, I have done both, and there is no simple answer. Both choices can be agonizing.
Many people are single on Valentine's Day and feeling lonely and unloved. Many others are in marriages and feel exactly the same way.
I wish for each and every person the experience of being loved. All love is precious, and all love has ups and downs. A marriage can change and be different things at different times in its duration.
If you do not have mutually romantic love in your life this Sunday, as many single and married people do not, please take joy and comfort in friends, family, and a loving God/Universe. This is something we all have. And this is a time to celebrate all love, memories of past romantic love, and the hope of romantic love to come. Love is a beautiful thing in all of its forms. Whether it is returned or not. Love is love and something to be grateful for. And no love is ever wasted.
May each of you have a wonderful Valentine's Day.
~Photo by LoveHubbie Mark