Forever, Interrupted

Originally published November 2013

When it comes to love, is there a minimum amount of time required to validate the relationship?

Needing break from some of the heavier stuff I’ve been reading, I picked up what looked to be a piece of classic chick-lit: Forever, Interrupted, by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Nailed it—it is the stuff chick lit is made of—love at first sight, quirky relationships with the in-laws, a sassy BFF, epic love, and in this case, epic tragedy.

And as far as books go, it’s not bad—I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it to anyone, but that is more about me and less about the book—the genre just has worn a little thin on me and I have a couple of go-to authors for that kind of thing. But with the tragic tale of Elsie and Ben (word to the wise: never send your honey out for cereal after dark), readers are asked to ponder: just how much time does one need to validate a relationship, so that it’s OK to grieve as someone would if they lost a life partner after 50 years?

Everyone has had that friend at some point in their life—the drama queen (or king, I s’pose) that will take the death of a one-week-old relationship as if their worst enemy just ripped the head off a puppy in front of their eyes. And maybe it’s that gal (or guy) that makes the rest of us become somewhat cynical, jaded even, when we see others in significant pain for so long over a loss—it just doesn’t make sense.

“Geez, they were only engaged when he died. She needs to move on.”

“C’mon, they were only married for a year. It’s time for him to re-join society.”

“She was only three when she died. Maybe it’s a blessing they didn’t bond with her longer.”

“She was only 5 months pregnant. It’s not even like she had the baby before she lost it.”

I think to say we all need a healthy dose of perspective is too easy—because for the people who utter idiot comments like those above, they’ll assume when I use the word “perspective,” I am agreeing with them. No, actually it’s the opposite. Often times, it’s the ignorant that needs to be batted down with perspective.

Love is love is love—Check out this clip—the story of a performance artist surprisingly (I think, this could have been staged, but it’s still damn good so shut it) faced with an ex during a show:

It’s clear to see that years afterward, that intense connection is still palpable, even though their physical relationship died many moons ago. Nothing but weepy watching this. A hammer to the heart.

For me, “Forever, Interrupted” wasn’t as much about a lesson in love as it was about a lesson in grief—that there is no qualifier when it comes to missing someone once they’ve gone, and it doesn’t matter if that person was in your life for 50 years, 5 months or 5 days. Love is love is love. Don’t ever try to put a timestamp on that.

Have you ever had that kind of relationship? So powerful, so intense … so much like a “supernova,” as Ben’s mother Susan explains it to Elsie in the book? Comment here or come visit me on my Facebook page and let’s talk about it.

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