I'm sure by now you've heard about the writer, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who died 10 days after she posted a touching new column in the New York Times, in the Modern Love section. Amy was dying of ovarian cancer, but in her inimitable way, she wrote the ultimate paean of love to her husband. She extols his virtues, to offer him to other women who might want to fall in love with him, as she did. She proclaims him to be wonderful in every way that matters; and I can't read her piece, or even think about it, without tearing up. Here is the link...I'll wait.:
True, we all will die someday. But she obviously wanted to accomplish two things: let him know how happy she was to be married to him, for however long that lasted; and two, try to ease him along into being happy with someone else, after her death. That kind of love is so bone-deep, so ingrained in every cell of your body, that it makes me cry. At the same time, it makes my soul happy, to know what can be possible.
Isn't that the kind of love we are all seeking? Isn't that the kind of love we write about in our books, to let each other know that it is possible? It's not just idle dreaming. It's rare, but it can be found.
It reminds me of what I had read years ago, back when Gilda Radner was dying, way too soon, of the same killer: ovarian cancer. She was talking to her husband, Gene Wilder (and wouldn't you have loved to go out to dinner with them, to hear two such masterful comedians play off each other?) She told him that since he was taking such good care of her, she hoped he'd be inundated with other women who wanted to marry him, after she was gone. My memory isn't too clear who spoke next, but I think it was him who replied, "Yeah, but they'll all have cancer!" How like them both to joke even in the face of impending death. To swallow those tears and laugh defiantly, as the Grim Reaper approached. What courage, and yes, what intense love.
I'm the first to argue that as a writer, I don't write about myself or people I know...at least not without combining traits, or changing things about them. My fictional heroines and heroes are based on people I may have met/glimpsed/imagined, but the emotions are the crux of the matter in love stories, and for that I will be forever grateful to my own muse: my husband of almost 33 years. We also met in our twenties, and have raised children together. We've weathered rough spots, and enjoyed good times. I call what we have a passionate friendship. Every romance I write is a testament to my firm and unwavering belief in true love that can be all-consuming at the start, but which still burns brightly, even after many years have changed two youngsters into grandparents.
I never really believed in true love before I met him. I thought it was imaginary...fiction, just like the romance novels my mother read and traded with her sisters, as they all talked about how wonderful it would be if men like that existed. But meeting him, that crazy, passionate time when we were first together, followed by years of memories that only we share, have convinced me that it is very possible.
So if you have been lucky in love, I salute you...no matter how long it lasted. Hasn't it been said that, "Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all?" None of us have a future guaranteed. But we all have now. If your now is not filled with love, or if yours is, but you still like to read about it, to experience vicarious thrills through reading a romance novel, I'd like to suggest one of mine. My Reyes Romances have the various members of a large family falling in love, but the couples from the past books are a part of the story, and still very much in love in subsequent books.
On her review blog, Harley called For the Love of His Life the best book of the year when it came out. It's been followed by 2 sequels...so far. All of my heroines are strong, independent women, while their men can be alphas, betas, or a mixture. But these are men who love unreservedly, and whose devotion to their women is as natural as breathing. And the women always learn to believe in real love, from men who prove it with their actions.
In conclusion, I'd like to propose a toast: To Amy Krouse Rosenthal's husband Jason, to the late Gene Wilder, and to my husband Paul, I say thank you for being the real-life inspiration for our heroes. You men rock!