Charlie and I spent one Saturday exploring Forth Worth and came across the historic Oakwood cemetery, founded in 1879. Walking through rows of old graves under towering oak trees, I came across a crypt secured with these padlocked doors.
Immediately, I thought “I sure hope they loved each other.”
And that got me thinking…
I wonder what their real life story actually was…what were their names?
Maybe Jack and Fiona?
James and Flora?
John and Fran?
My imagination started spinning…
High School Sweet Hearts
Maybe their sweet story was something like this:
They meet in Freshman English class; he takes the desk behind her. Every day he looks forward to English, now his favorite subject, spending each class time watching her ponytail bob enthusiastically as she talks to the friends on either side of her. Half way through the school year, voice cracking, he finally musters the courage to ask her out, surprised when she says yes.
Teen love springs hot, heavy, and fast, but amazingly, this love lasts.
Mere weeks after the pomp and circumstance of high school graduation, he’s drafted into the Army and ends up fighting Germans he never realized he was supposed to hate.
She vows to wait for him, writing him long letters filled with nothing and everything, because she loves him.
Over and over he reads these letters, lying cold and wet in deep trenches dug into German soil; his heart warms and fills with hope. He keeps the letters tucked into his uniform, close to his heart, because he loves her.
The day finally comes, and she’s waiting at the train station, hands gripped tightly together in anticipation, amid hundreds of other eager loved ones. Blowing whistles announcing its arrival at the station, the train rumbles to a stop, waves of uniformed men surging onto the platform.
Standing high on her tiptoes, she strains to see over the sea of heads, eyes darting from face to face, searching for his. And then, her eyes meet his; there he is! She rushes into his arms, and their lives begin again.
They marry and have four beautiful children. Life settles into a comfortable routine; she stays home, keeps the house and children clean, and has dinner on the table promptly at six. He works in management at the local factory and returns home by five every night to gather the children in his arms as they run to meet him at the door. Every day, his kiss reminds her how much he loves her.
Life is unremarkable, and yet…life is remarkable.
They spend their golden years going on traveling adventures, loving their children and grandbabies, loving each other. Life is full; life is good.
And suddenly, searing chest pain steals her away from him, before he can even say goodbye. He lasts only a week, heartbroken, unwilling and unable to continue without her.
Respecting their unending love, the children gently lay their parents’ bodies side-by-side, lock the crypt door, and, tears streaming, leave them… Together Forever.
Modern Day Romance
Was it something more like this?
They meet at a trendy downtown bar, two young corporate professionals hitting it off over watered-down happy hour margaritas. He calls her the next day because it’s the expected thing to do.
Months flow by…an extra toothbrush appears on his bathroom counter…her razor sits on the bathtub ledge next to raspberry-scented shave gel, her favorite coffee creamer replaces his in the refrigerator, and piece by piece, her wardrobe migrates to his closet. She finally suggests that she move in; he agrees because it’s the expected thing to do.
He swaps his weekly night out with the guys for chick flicks on the couch; she fades away from her girlfriends because who needs girlfriends when you have the perfect man?
She insistently comments on each new marriage – high school friends, college drinking buddies, colleagues, even celebrities on Entertainment Tonight or in People magazine. He finally asks her to marry him because it’s the expected thing to do.
A month after the honeymoon, she quits her job to stay at home; a man’s role is to support his wife, she tells him. She now spends her time filling both their credit cards and their apartment with Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, and Restoration Hardware.
He continues to commute an hour each way to a job he doesn’t love because his new financial obligations require it. On the commute home, he kindly picks up take-out for two if she’s too drained to cook. Sometimes flowers or chocolates accompany the dinner because it’s the expected thing to do.
Time flows by, and insecurities take root…Why does it take him so long to get home? Why does the bank account tell her he’s spending money in a town not on his route? And that barista behind the Starbucks counter…she’s obviously wants to serve him more than coffee.
He fights these doubts with assertions of innocence, flowers, and gifts, and she is momentarily appeased.
She convinces him to replace their individual Facebook accounts with a single account: “What’s on your mind, FranJohnSmith?”
Those separate email accounts? Closed. If you need to contact us, send an email to FranJohnSmith@ouremail.com.
He spends his evenings watching reality TV next to her on the couch, the smile on his face hiding how he dies inside each time the Kardashians or Real Housewives appear in his living room. It’s the expected thing to do.
Years flow by, and his friends congratulate him on his beautiful life, admitting their jealousy when their wives’ backs are turned. Discontent stuffed down deep, he smiles and thanks them. While he will never voice the secrets of his home, nightly he dreams of freedom and passion.
The years continue to flow…tumbling one over another, until suddenly, he finds himself tired, middle-aged, and lonely, wondering “how did this happen?”
A sharp shake of his head clears away webs of apathy, and he forces himself awake. Dreams can come true, he decides; no longer will he spend this one, precious life in quiet misery.
He starts planning his escape.
During his one-hour commute to a job he doesn’t love, a simple lane change alters everything. Flashing lights, wailing sirens, and rushing paramedics are too late, but they transport him to the hospital anyway. It’s the expected thing to do.
Time flows by; she mourns his loss…and spends his life insurance…until she too passes away.
The attorney executing her will obeys her last wish, locking the crypt door, their bodies laid safely inside… Together Forever.
Which story is it? You decide…