One of my favorite stories, in both book and video form, is The Princess Bride. In the classic tale of high adventure, for those who haven’t read or seen it, Buttercup gets the shattering news that her one true love, Westley, has died.
She mourns, but eventually puts on her practical face and sits down to breakfast and the shadows of a normal life again. In the book, the okay-ness makes her parents uneasy and they ask, “Are you… okay… now?” And she says, “Yes. But I will never love again.”
She does, of course, but she’s lucky enough to be able to love the same man.
I don’t say of course to mock her pain. I say of course because in the fight between the Pits of Despair and True Love, I’ll always put my money on true love.
In literature, yes– but also in life. We are humans. We are love. Despair is just something we pass through.
Buttercup’s fatalistic, childlike mind is the reason I never really identified with her. When I enter the story, I am not the farmgirl who could be princess who might be queen…
No, I’m the stumbling but strong giant.
He’s childlike, too–but piercingly realistic, fiercely determined, and always hopeful. He craves the companionship of those he loves.
Which is why, when I am asked if I think I will ever love again, I am surprised. Isn’t it obvious?
I’m not wearing a coronet. I’m basically a dinosaur.
I’m on the brute squad.
Of course I will.
I don’t say of course to mock my pain. I don’t say of course to undermine the truly wonderful relationship Dave and I forged together. I say of course because I am a creature of love.
Despair is just something I have to pass through every once in awhile. My journey is a classic tale of true love and high adventure, and that sort of story almost always guarantees a few fiery hells.
And, much like fiery hells, true love takes many forms. I personally believe in many types. I believe people encounter multiple true loves in the same lifetime. I believe people can harvest multiple types of true love with the same person.
I believe in my capacity for loving, endlessly, more than I believe in anything else about myself.
Which is why, when my claim that I will love again folds into the next question– am I ready?
— I hesitate.
I don’t know how to answer in a way that doesn’t sound heartless. Dave would understand. If he were here, he’d say it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, because letting someone else dictate how or who or when you love is an insult to your soul. And we dismiss insults to our soul, no matter how weird that makes us look to the neighbors.
But Dave is gone and I’ve been walking these pits of despair by myself, trying to navigate where he once led, trying to see the path he could always see.
I was lucky enough to love one man in many different ways, but that also meant I had to grieve the loss of each type, each loss its own fiery hell. The simplest way I can phrase it is:
I am ready for some types of love again.
There is one space where I am still very much grieving. You can hear it in the cracks of my voice, and the stories about my husband that go on for just a few sentences more than are needed. In visual form, it is this:
The loss of this still breaks my heart. Some days, it crumbles me, and looking at this image makes my stomach hurt a little bit because it captures it all so well. I don’t know if other people see what I see here, because I know it’s not a common type of love. The mismatched friendship, the earned trust, the dedication to the same ideals despite opposing motivations. For people who were so very different– for people who were, for 438 days, so very far apart– there was never any space between us.
Because, bump. Or as we might have said it: thud.
But love is many things, and love is many forms, and my marriage was made up of pieces that I miss in my life already. Pieces I am confident I could create with someone else, in a different but still wonderful way.
For instance, I am ready to be welcome in someone’s family, just because that person loves me. I’m ready to meet strange and wonderful people who might consider me their cousin forever, and I am ready to share my crazy troll family with others.
And I am ready for cozy moments, where I am dazzled by someone, or where I have the opportunity to see if I can still dazzle someone.
And I’m ready for romantic, picturesque moments, because even though I’ve always been more giant than farmgirl– I am still a princess. All girls are. Even dinogirls.
And I am ready for playful chitchat when the moon is out, because I have a playful heart, and I love when the brightest stars can be found in someone’s eyes.
And I’m ready for hand-holding and hugs and kisses because I believe in expression through touch as much as I believe in expression through writing.
And because I know I am loved here, and love can create worries, I will add that I am not looking for any of this.
I am not searching. I am not indiscriminate or desperate or thoughtless. I am neither naive to the world nor oblivious to the nature of hearts.
I am just a slow-moving creature of hope. I am sportsmanlike and strong– even when crippled with fear, even when climbing insane and terrifying challenges.
I am someone who knows love, no matter what mask it wears or if it dies. I have griefs and fears, and pain so incredible that crying is impossible– of course — but that’s the cost of high adventure and true love.
I lost my navigator, but I try to see with his eyes, and follow the path he’d have forged for me– and I know it’s one toward the possibility of more love.
I trust the bumps, I follow the thud, and I know.
I am strong enough to love again, so I will. Of course I will.
I’m on the brute squad.
So this post was probably never going to be posted because of the many thousands of ways the replies could go wrong– but I’ve been staring at a blank screen for two hours. I don’t want to be writing, I want to be reading. I’m going to go do that, but I want to say thank you first.