We just finished watching “The Vow.” The image above is from the movie. Plot summary if you haven’t seen it goes something like this: boy meets girl, boy and girl fall rapidly and madly in love, boy and girl get married, girl suffers brain hemorrhage after car accident, girl forgets she ever knew boy, boy and girl get to decide how they’d like to handle that small detail…all tied and twisted up into the most romantic story you’ve ever witnessed unfold before your eyes. And let’s be straight, true love like that is exceptionally romantic…I drool over it.
I also, sort of, you know, lived it, not to, you know, brag or anything (brushes some invisible lint from her shoulders, smugly).
I’d like to go grab hot chocolate with the couple this movie is about. I bet we could have a great conversation 🙂
So what sort of movie would you make out of our story? The truth is there are a lot of movies you could make of our story. Not all of them are pretty. Our uncut, full feature, documentary would probably leave us looking exceptionally flawed and broken, vangeful, angry, depressed, overwhelmed, and yet loyally by each other’s side through thick and thin, truly in love, angry, vengeful, depressed, or not.
But watching “The Vow” tonight, I got to realize all over again, that our life is the best of romance movies:
Start the movie with a Disney worthy swirl of butterflies, songs, and snuggled-on-a-bench-while-snow-fell-kisses that lasted only 3 weeks before we decided we just couldn’t bear to ever be without each other and we got engaged.
Flash through rapid scenes of burning, passionate romance, sweet, tender affection, and Twilight-worthy eye gazing that was the first years we were married.
Jump forward to joyful tears at the birth of a perfect baby boy. Squeals of the purest laughter as daddy and mommy tickle him and smile at each other, absolutely amazed at what they have created together.
Pause just after that baby smears chocolate cake all over his face at his first birthday party.
Go back to that moment, that moment we held hands at the altar, that moment we said our vows. Let the scene fade away as the music plays, “Come what may, I will love you, until my dying day. Oh come what may,” from Moulin Rouge. Our wedding song.
Flash forward to the hospital. To his mother’s worried face and my wailing. See the tubes, hear the machines, see his pale, swollen body. See his blank stares. Hear the doctors say they have no idea if or how much he’ll recover but that recovery is very unlikely.
Show his recovery. Show how shocked and amazed even the doctors are.
Show the miracle.
Then stop and drag out the scene where he talks to his parents and doesn’t have a clue who they are. Drag out the scene where I show him picture after picture of lifelong family and friends and he shakes his head “no” when asked if he knows who they are. Focus on our faces as I ask him if he remembers me from before the hospital, and he shakes his head “no,” pure confusion on his face. Show me sneaking away to call my sisters, me bawling–the ugly, gut wrenching sort of cry that comes from both unbelievable sadness and absolute terror.
And as the audience is tearing up, cut forward in time.
Let the audience watch his family tell him story after story of his life. Listen to me tell him the stories of our life together, our romance, our marriage, our child he had forgotten existed.
Show him starting to remember–first the people, then the important events.
Show so many joyful moments of recovery that the audience is unconsciously grinning ear to ear, laughing, and sighing in relief.
Let the audience take a sneak peak into the bedroom as a virgin father takes his wife of six years in his arms for the first time. Show just enough of the awkwardness to make the story believable and skip the other 90 percent of it to keep it equal parts fairytale.
Let the audience watch them struggle, watch her care for him, watch him learn eventually to care for them back again.
And as the story nearly wraps up, let everyone see that these two lovers, turned star-crossed lovers, do, despite both changing so very much, once again find true partnership in each other. Let the audience see that they have truly loved each other, “Come what may.”
I was talking to Ricardo after the movie tonight, telling him that people could make two very opposite movies of our experience since his brain hemorrhage–one a romance for the ages and the other a dramatic story of betrayal, pain, and anger, and yet both movies could be absolutely true. He looked at me and said, “You know, that’s the beauty of it, that one doesn’t necessarily take from the other.”
I like that. If he can say that, you can believe it. Believe the love story you have seen glimpses of in us, it’s true, even if it’s really so much more complicated than that.