Love still holds on (by Billy Coffey)

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If you were here last Monday, then you’ve already read Part One of this story. If not, check out Holding On.

Here’s Part Two:

“You’re gonna have to write about this, aren’t you?” she asked.

I nodded and said, “I’m afraid so.”

She looked down and toed the concrete. A faint smile crossed her mouth. “Awesome,” she whispered.

And it was awesome. The sort of story that I like to tell, part II of what will hopefully be a trilogy, complete with a “happily ever after” at the end.

Last May I wrote a post about her, her boyfriend, and their impending and involuntary separation. The college year was over and she was heading home to Utah, leaving both her love and her desire here. Her boyfriend lived and worked about three miles from campus.

Neither had ever believed in love at first sight. Not that they were jaded, mind you. Just practical. It takes time to fall in love. Time and effort and more than a little doubt. At least in their experience.

But experience isn’t always the best teacher, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. Love is a power unto itself. It cannot be bottled for study or manipulated for experimentation. It simply washes over you and leaves you breathless.

Which is what happened to them.

The problem with that sort of thing is that it temporarily suspends all rational thought concerning some of the bigger issues. The fact that she was basically a visitor here and he was a permanent resident didn’t cross their minds until a few weeks before the school year ended. Which is when she approached me with this question:

Could their love survive the distance that would be between them?

I answered yes. Of course. Because love is all-powerful. The force that moves both world and man. Love conquers all.

That’s what I said then. And this is what I can say now—I didn’t really believe those words at the time. Not in general of course, but for them specifically. Because as powerful and conquering as love is, it is also an exceedingly fragile thing. Especially when you’re barely out of your teens.

So yes, I had my doubts. But I hid them as any good person should. After all, the general theory still holds—despite it all, love truly can hang on.

When I saw her this afternoon for the first time in four months, she was smiling. A good sign. And I noticed that she still wore her boyfriend’s class ring on her necklace. Another good sign. Yes, she said, they had made it through the summer. In fact, they made it with very little effort.

“So modern technology held you together?” I asked, remembering her prediction that emails and phone calls would never suffice.

“No,” she answered. “I mean yeah, sure. But no, too.”

I wrinkled my brow.

“We wanted to keep in touch,” she said. “I felt like I had to talk to him every day or I’d just go crazy. But honestly? I think if we had to go the whole summer without ever hearing from each other, we’d have been fine. I’d have come back here and we would have been just as much in love as before. Maybe more. Know what I mean?”

Yes. I did.

I knew husbands and wives who were at that moment separated by thousands of miles because one or both were serving our country. I had a friend who because of work was about to spend three months away from his family. And just mere months ago I attended the wedding of two people who had only seen one another four times in three years.

How can this happen? Beats me.

Is it any wonder why we have such a hard time describing and defining love? Faith seems easier—“the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.” Yes. That’s it exactly. And hope has been defined as faith holding its hand out in the dark. Perfect.

But love? You can’t define love. Love is simply one of those things that must be experienced instead of pondered. It can be expressed but not explained, bent but not broken, and tested but not found wanting.

Which is why it’s the most wonderful thing in the world.


To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at at his website and follow him on the twitter at @billycoffey.

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