My parents named me Laurel, after the mountain laurel flower, but I've always gone by Laurie. I feel like I've spent my whole life trying to be what other people would find acceptable, and it hasn't been until recent years that I've thought more about how GOD would like me to be. He wants my heart to be seeking after HIM and not the approval of man. So, this is where I will be working out my thoughts, removing the masks (even my nickname!), being real, and making a FREAK of myself! ha ha Any other Jesus Freaks or just freaks in general or even non-freaky people are welcome to read, discuss, encourage, or be encouraged. Welcome to my brain . . . and my heart. :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

When I Couldn't Say "I Love You"

Why can't I have a romantic cry once in awhile?  You know, like in the movies or in books, where a girl can wade on a sandy shore while she cries, or lie on a lofty tree branch, or stroll a grassy meadow, surrounded by sweet-smelling wildflowers?

I'd settle for escaping to the shade of the apple trees in our "back 40" on a sunny spring day, apple blossoms showering their fragrant petals over my face to wipe away my tears . . .

. . . or whatever.

But, no.  When I have a chance to cry at all, it's usually at the most inopportune times, when some straw or another has broken the camel's back, and there's no time or opportunity to choose a location.  While washing dishes, while sorting laundry, while teaching my son algebra or sentence diagramming.  It's never "right."  It's never dramatic in a good way.

I did have a perfectly romantic cry once in my life.  And it wasn't just romantic in the sense of imaginative or impractical, but it involved a boy-girl romance-romance!

Yes, I was in college and spending lots of time with Kevin (my now-husband for anyone who didn't know!).  We sat on a bench or a ledge somewhere on/near a beach in Chicago, the waters of Lake Michigan meeting the sky in the distance, the wind blowing through my hair (um, I had an asymmetrical hairstyle at the time, and the only part long enough to move around with the wind was the front--no full head of shiny locks to float on the breeze, but still!).  On the other side of me, the city lights twinkled and winked, and their beauty seemed to exist just for our sake.

I don't remember the small talk that preceded these words, but I remember the important part.

"I love you," said he.

And then I cried.  It was like we were the only two people in the world, and it was the first time I cried in front of him.  It wasn't that I didn't love him.  I did very much.  But, for some weird reason, I couldn't bring myself to say it out loud.  I had misused that word "love" too many times.  I knew Kevin was the real thing, and that scared me senseless for awhile!  I was afraid of true love, afraid I would fail.  I didn't know how to deal with true love.  I knew I had to treat it differently than the game-playing and attempts to control others that I had been guilty of before.

I loved him, but I just couldn't bring myself to say so.

I'll never forget how he swung down from the bench, got down on one knee so he could see me face-to-face, and kindly asked, "What's wrong?" in the quietest, most tender of voices.  He took my hand and just waited patiently for me to finish crying (like he has so many times since).  If he was unsettled by my tears, he never showed it.  He brushed my hair from my eyes a time or two and whispered a compassionate encouragement every now and then.

I cried mainly because I didn't know what was wrong with me.  Why could I not verbalize what was in my heart to the only one those words had ever truly applied?  I had easily said them before when I only thought they meant something.  Now they really did, and I couldn't utter them.

I wonder how he felt that night.  I haven't asked him if he even remembers it.  I think of it every few years or so, but I never remember to ask him that question.  I'll bet I will now, though. :)

Obviously, the story doesn't end there.

A few days later, he called me right before being wheeled to the health center because of a dangerously high fever and severe abdominal pain.  It turned out he had food poisoning and would be fine, but I didn't know that at the time.  I met him there as he arrived and was shocked at the green tint to his face.  I hadn't realized people could really look green!  I so wanted to say, "I love you!" as the nurse pushed his wheelchair toward the mysterious, unseen back rooms.  I wondered if he was going to die without knowing how I felt.

The "mean" nurse wouldn't let me back to see him, so I wrote a note, which she agreed to take to him.  I wrote all kinds of things about how I hoped he would feel better quickly and that I would be praying for him.  Then, as if an afterthought, on the bottom of the paper I wrote, "By the way, I love you."  We laugh about that all these years later (that was 26 years ago!!).

So, yeah, it was kind of a back-handed way, but it was a start!  After that, I had no trouble saying those words, except, over the next several years of our engagement and new marriage, when I would withhold those words out of anger, to "make a point."

Now, I still become angry sometimes, but I can't ever withhold those words.  In fact, though I say them to him several times every day, I make an extra effort to make sure I say them when I'm angry.  I've learned that love certainly doesn't end because of a disagreement.  The only thing that causes love to end is when one or both people allow it to.  Period.

So, anyway, I should be grateful I've had a romantic cry in my lifetime:  romantic setting, romantic circumstances, romantic outcome.  I'll remember that the next time I'm blubbering as I'm cleaning the toilet or folding laundry, and wishing I could escape to the apple trees. ;)

1 comment:

jtaft7 said...

Thank you for sharing this, Laurel. I enjoyed it and appreciated the reason why you struggled to say it. Too often it is misused in our society and the meaning is lost. Great made me chuckle and cheer for you when you said it. :)