We were engaged. That meant something, right? I was the most important man in her life, the one she could count on to be her rock, her strength. So, why was she pushing past me to find her father with tears in her eyes? I was disappointed and confused. Here I was, her knight in shining armor, standing with arms outspread and she’s going to cry in her daddy’s arms? If ever I thought I understand females, that illusion was quickly being stripped away. The blow to my ego was severe, but fortunately short lived. I soon discovered the problem, but still I felt let down.
The Lovely Young Lady was a senior in High School and had given a friend a ride home after school. Her friend lived out away from town and they had to traverse a rough country road in the process. You have to experience a dirt road in Arkansas to understand the issue, but let’s just say that it wasn’t a smooth trip. Rocks grow in these hills, seemingly sprouting from the soil to poke their blooming heads up wherever they happen to find a crack. The rock she had impacted with the oil pan on her car was unyielding, while the metal of the pan was a bit more tractable, so the trip back to town could have been mapped by the oil trail, first on the gravel road, then on the pavement. Needless to say, she was more than a little flustered and emotionally distraught by the time she arrived at the music store where we were. So, she did what came naturally to any teenage girl; she headed to her father for comfort and reassurance. Right past me, the love of her life.
I’ve had a few years to contemplate my feelings that afternoon so long ago. If I consider it rationally, I can’t for the life of me understand why I was upset. Who in their right mind, would actually want to have to console a young lady, offering sympathy while deflecting the self-recrimination and “if onlys”. Better to stand at a distance and wait until the situation improves, enjoying the sunshine without the storm. Having said that, I don’t believe for a moment that I would feel any different if the same situation presented itself tomorrow. When you love someone, you want to be there for them, whether to celebrate or to comfort. In complete honesty, I will also tell you that I have never experienced that disappointment again. We’ve cried together and laughed together, including others in the process, but never again supplanting each other.
Later, I did get to share a part in making that particular situation better, along with the Lovely Young Lady’s brother. Now, that stage of the reparations, I would have gladly let someone else take care of. I’ve admitted that I’m no mechanic, but replacing the oil pan on that little Chevy was a trial of a different sort. Love makes you do some unpleasant things…And I guess I’m okay with that, too.
Isn’t is strange, that we willingly and purposefully seek that kind of relationship? Marriages, children, friendships, even the responsibility of having pets puts us in the line of fire, guaranteeing that we will participate in the heartache and pain. I can list any number of these situations in which I have been mired, and I wouldn’t give up any of them. Our children grew to maturity with us sharing the triumphs and the defeats. We laughed and sang our way down the road, stopping periodically to cry and comfort. While those relationships have changed drastically as their lives take different paths, we remain close, still sharing in the hard times, as well as the good ones.
When we write the stories and wax poetic, we love to tell of the happy, the ideal. But, fairy tales aren’t reality; in this life there’s no “happily ever after.” The plain truth is that we need the hard times to keep us close in the good times. Pain and pleasure are all part of our lives and we want and need to share them with the ones we love.
Illogical? Undoubtedly! But there’s no better feeling than knowing that someone you love needs you to be there for them. It kind of gives you the warm fuzzies to know that they are there for you too…
“Trouble shared is troubled halved.”
(Lee Iacocca~American businessman)
“Affliction’s sons are brothers in distress; A brother to relieve, how exquisite the bliss!”
(Robert Burns~Scottish poet and lyricist)