“If you’re wondering, am I capable
God knows I am
And if it’s meant to be
I will go alone, God knows I can”
-The Avett Brothers, Bring Your Love to Me
When I was in sixth grade all of my friends kept talking about how great the movie Terms of Endearment was. My parents would not allow me to see it because, my dad said, it seemed to applaud the idea of extra marital affairs. He did, however, let me see The Big Chill, so apparently, affairs are okay for fertility purposes only. In my dad’s defense, I think I was a bit older when The Big Chill was released. I was also not allowed to see a Styx concert (because I could not name more than one song) or watch Purple Rain (which, I mean, okay, I’ll give him that one). I did have a poster of Gregory Harrison (Trapper John, MD), shirtless, on my bedroom wall (I just googled “Trapper John, MD” and cannot believe that was the best fantasy I could muster at age thirteen).
Anyway, I have been thinking a lot about Terms of Endearment the past few days because Mark had to say goodbye to his boys. For some reason I thought about the Tennyson quote on the outside of my wedding invitations, which read, “Heart, are you great enough for a love that never tires? O heart, are you great enough for love?”
This weekend, I drove over five hundred miles, which gave me lots of time to think and cry and wonder, but that quote, and the image of Debra Winger’s face, kept circling back into my thoughts. Driving, I missed two, maybe three, tollbooths. I was in the wrong lane (which is my fault because I lost the little thingy that holds the GPS in place and then I trusted a twelve year old to read the map from his lap). I have so many thoughts that are jumbled and running that I wonder if I am spending most of my life in the wrong lane. What else do I miss because I am not paying attention?
I am ending the weekend feeling the weight of love, the heaviness it can take on, and realizing that Tennyson did not just mean to ask if our hearts were big enough to love each other, but if they were big enough to let each other go, too. I know that the answer has to be yes and that leaves me feeling very sad. As I drove today, I imagined that scene in the movie where Emma puts on her lipstick before letting the boys enter her hospital room one last time. It is really only now that I know she was looking in that mirror for courage.