Assistant Editor Dan Hoffman realizes how love often transcends the ways we try to define it.
Posted in , Jun 27, 2016
Since both of us are single, my friend Audrey and I often talk about love and relationships. Audrey is French and believes in the coup de foudre–love comes like a “strike of lightning.”
I’m a sensible, pragmatic American. I don’t think love at first sight is necessary, or even always a good predictor of how a relationship will turn out in the long run. Similar goals, matching values, those are more important.
This debate usually starts when I suggest she give online dating a chance. How can there be a coup de foudre, Audrey wonders, online?
Recently, I gained some insight on this debate from one of our readers. He sent me a story with a familiar Mysterious Ways scenario–after finding out about the death of a good female friend, he went to a beach they often visited, praying for a sign from God that his friend was in heaven. Of course, he stumbled upon just the sign he was looking for, something that only he and his friend would have understood.
Yet, I sensed that wasn’t all there was to this reader’s story. I saw through the use of the word “friend”–clearly the relationship was more than that. I made a phone call.
For over an hour, our reader told me about a relationship of ups and downs that spanned nearly a decade. He met his “friend” online–and in fact they did just start out as just friends.
There was an instant connection, but not a romantic one. It took two years before they started dating, and a couple of years after that, they married. Then after another few years, they divorced. They clearly cared for each other, but they wanted different things.
He moved out, but found a place on the same block. They still attended church together. They both became sick with cancer and supported each other throughout their treatments until our reader’s ex-wife passed away. After her death, our reader dedicated himself to fulfilling one of her last wishes, tracking down the final resting place of an ancestor she’d been searching for.
Their story was complicated–too many words to write here. It wasn’t as simple as coup de foudre, and it didn’t always make the most rational sense why they remained drawn to each other. But it was powerful all the same.
Sometimes it felt as if their love was outside their control, as if some other force had a vested interest in keeping them linked together.
While telling his story, he frequently was overcome with emotion, and my eyes were left with a manly misting when I hung up the phone. There was something special about the arrival of his story in my inbox, as if it came just when I needed a reminder that love transcends the ways we try to define it and pin it down. Often, it ends up defining us instead.
I know just what I’ll say, the next time I get into a debate with Audrey. Love isn’t just a single strike of lightning, and it’s not just a matching game. It’s far more powerful, and eternal. A current that flows through two beings always, even when the ups and downs of life split them apart.