Near us two young couples sat and discussed the details of a recent engagement. The description was theatrical; full of dramatic pauses and hyperbole. The new fiance started with a comprehensive synopsis of important events and dates in the couples dating history. Then she began a step-by-step description of her boyfriend's clever deceptions and misdirections, and finally she shared her astonishment when she was led to the very park where they shared their first kiss. The excitement in her voice intensified as she described the candle-lit path, her kneeling boyfriend, the enormous glittering ring he brandished, and the hidden photographer hired to capture her reaction.
As I listened I thought about my own engagement six years earlier. It was so simple. After two years of dating - and breaking up - Jordan finally asked me to marry him. It was a cool summer evening, and we sat talking and kissing on the grey weathered wood of his mom's back porch. There were no fireworks or surprises, no elaborate plans, and no eloquent speeches. Just the words, "I really love you, will you marry me?"
I thought about how scared I was to say yes. I was afraid of divorce and disappointment. I was afraid of heartache and instability. I worried about making the right decision, or rather making the wrong decision. I was afraid of the pain a poor decision would carry. I wanted my happiness guaranteed, and yet despite all my fears I said "yes."
My understanding of pain was so naive six years ago.
As I listened to the bubbly couple beside us, I thought
"Do you know how hard it will be?"
"Do you realize what you are doing?"
When Jonah died, and I was waiting for Jordan at the hospital, I wondered what would happen to us. Could our relationship survive something so devastating? Would Jordan blame me for Jonah's death? I could not bear the idea of losing Jonah and Jordan. I wondered how we would ever recover from such sorrow. But when Jordan arrived, and he realized Jonah was gone, I was overwhelmed by the love he showed to me. There was no contention, no accusations, only pain and tears.
All of this flooded my heart and mind as I ate my french fries, and I thought about this newly engaged couple. I thought about how at one point in my life I may have been jealous of such a romantic story. But instead I wondered if they understood how simple love can be. It can be as simple as saying "I really love you, will you marry me?" It can be as simple as forgiveness and kindness. It can be as simple as holding hands in the midst of intense pain. Did they know they should be jealous of us?...a silent heartbroken fry-eating couple beside them.
Probably not. But I knew. I thought about the complicated package of beauty and joy and pain that arrived in my life when I said yes six years ago. I would say yes again today. I am so grateful that I was brave enough to walk into the unknown with Jordan. How blessed we have been to learn to love in the simplest of ways.
Among the blessings of love there is hardly one more exquisite than the sense that in uniting the beloved life to ours we can watch over its happiness, bring comfort where hardship was, and over memories of privation and suffering open the sweetest fountains of joy.