Love can come with a bang or slowly. Here's my story.
There is a funny little man I know that makes my heart sing with love. I met him thirteen years ago in a way that may seem a little strange.
How It Began
My husband Gary and I had divorced after twenty years of marriage, but it was very amicable and we visited each other relatively often, even though he had moved to another part of the country. Once, when I was visiting him, he told me that there was someone he wanted me to meet. We walked up one flight of stairs, knocked on a door, and he introduced me to Arnie. We hit it off right away — as friends. A year later I moved to that town and the three of us spent a lot of time hanging out together.
Just a few months after I moved, Gary had a severe heart attack. Although the doctors managed to save his life, he was never the same again. But the friendship between Gary, Arnie and I remained the same.
Arnie was a passionate man, wearing his heart on his sleeve. He could be brutally honest and was prone to exploding if things didn’t go the way he thought they should, but he was never violent. Gary and I would look at each other and smile at his outbursts, knowing that underneath lay an incredible personality.
I nursed Gary the last four years of his life. When we were alone he'd smile at me and say, "You know Arnie's in love with you, don't you?" I'd nod, but something stood in the way on my part, and it wasn’t just Arnie’s explosive nature. I had made a promise on our wedding day: There was something about the "'til death do us part" part that I had taken very seriously. Even though I had gotten over Gary in many ways, I couldn't get past that vow. I simply didn’t feel free to love again.
Then the day came when Gary's heart gave out for good. Arnie was there with a shoulder for me to cry on. He didn't know that I had, strange as it seems, mourned my ex for years and was now ready to move on.
Making The Leap — And Learning What Love Really Is
We continued to be friends, but now we were closer than ever. It didn't take long for me to come to a crossroad. I loved Arnie as a friend; was I willing to commit to something more?
Many years ago one of my teachers had told me that love is a choice and that it is something we can do consciously. The feelings, he said, would come afterwards. I had a hard time swallowing that until I realized it was what I had been doing throughout my entire marriage. I had chosen to love my husband even when he wasn't acting very lovable. Even when we had our most heated arguments I still loved him.
Standing there in my apartment I made my decision. I knew that Arnie loved me, now I chose to love him.
There was some trepidation; we were so different in so many ways. He loves boxing, I love Shakespeare. But I'd seen his heart and knew instinctively that I was doing the right thing. When he proposed, as I knew he would, I said yes.
That was seven years ago. Today we're more in love than ever. It hasn't been without trials; when you go into a new relationship when both have passed the age of fifty, there will always be a few extra bumps in the road. But we've both hung on to the main thing: our love for each other.
Love is not only a choice, it's a verb. Every day we try to find ways to show our appreciation for each other. If we have a disagreement we either find a solution to it or agree to disagree on that issue. We never allow ourselves to go to bed angry and we always kiss each other goodnight. We remind ourselves that respect is an integral part of love.
The result? Hopeless romantics that we are, we're like two teenagers in love. He's even been known to stop and kiss me in the middle of the sidewalk, to the amusement (or chagrin) of the passers-by. And all because we've chosen love.