Saturday, July 31, 2010

Finding Forty, Day 65; If Only...(repost)

 Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tonight I'm contemplating happy endings. As a child I think we are led to believe that stories always have happily ever afters. The guy gets the girl or the girl gets the guy and they ride off into the sunset. The End. And yet, as an adult, I know this isn't true.

Actually, I've probably known that happy endings aren't always possible since before I was an adult, but never really wanted to believe or accept it. I am, in the end, a fan of all things nice and neat. And still, as much as I long for everything to peacefully play out, I am undeniably drawn to the sad stories.

As a child, I will never forget watching "The Way We Were" with my mom, who was a huge Robert Redford fan. The closing scene is painfully heartbreaking and I can't watch it without desperately hoping that when Hubbell approaches Katie on the street an entirely different exchange will unfold before my eyes. It never does.

Romeo and Juliet is another classic example. When Juliet plunges Romeo's dagger into herself and falls upon his lifeless, poisoned body my heart shatters, splinters, frays. The breath escapes me and my throat clenches as my mind reels at the love lost. "If only..." is what permeates my thoughts. Shakespeare, being the genius he was, brilliantly captured the essence of unadulterated love, but also of love that couldn't be. I hurt at the thought.

It seems that Hollywood and Robert Redford share my penchant for love lost. Two of my favorite movies that feature this theme also highlight him as the leading man. "Out of Africa" is painfully beautiful to me and after watching it, I am left utterly spent. I'm reminded of how fragile life and love actually are. In "The Horse Whisperer" my heart breaks at the love that cannot be. The notion of two people, soul mates if you will, who cannot be together is a theme that leaves me feeling gutted and raw, and somehow still hopeful despite every obstacle. How painful must it be to love and lose? To love but not be able to live in that glory? I can only imagine the anguish and steadfastly hope for all hearts to be fulfilled.

Happy endings are super. They leave me with a warm, fuzzy feeling and the ability to move about my day, business as usual. But it's the sad endings that stoke the fires of my imagination, the chambers and linings of my tender, romantic heart. Happy endings placate me. Everything else stirs me up. And to be stirred is to be alive. I feel certain Robert would agree.

Postscript:  I wrote this more than a year ago, while I was less broken, more whole.   At the time, I couldn't believe my heart would truly be shattered.  I thought love, in the end, would prevail.   With each passing day, I realize the love I believed in has truly been taken away.  I posted this piece because of something wonderful I read in a new friend's blog about heartbreak and life and grown up endings.  I'm Peter Pan no more.


  1. "The Butterfly Effect", to me, is one of the greatest love stories of all time. I've seen the movie with two different endings. Without spoiling it for you, I will just let you know that I prefer the street ending to the hospital ending, but both are in the same spirit.

  2. About broken versus whole: You know how, when you work out, the exercise causes microscopic tears in your muscles? And when those tears heal, the muscles are bigger and stronger . . . and a better "whole" than they were in the beginning.
    I remember this from when I used to *care about* working out and being fit. :-P

  3. I sometimes (foolishly) wish for a happy ending myself.

    The film that really gets to me is "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg"; in the end, they live their own lives. Regarding my past romance, I feel that is what will happen to the two of us. I even had a good-bye scene leaving on a train. :-P

    -French Bean