How can any of us forget that line from Love Story? We all read the book, then watched the movie, with acned faces, through teenaged tears. We knew nothing about love, but it didn’t matter. We repeated the line over and over. “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Yeah, that’s a bunch of crap.
Mike and I had our own ersatz Love Story experience last weekend, bringing back memories of Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw. We were in Waterville Valley, NH, and I swear, If Mike’s shoulder had not been in danger of re-injury, we would have gone to the ice arena in the town square, and I would have sat on the bleachers and watched him skate deftly around the rink like the hockey player he once was. Yeah, and I have cancer, and we are still (not exactly newly) in love.
We could have, and we would have, but we didn’t. In actuality, we just went for a walk. I was hurting a bit this past weekend. It was only 8 days after my last chemo. Fortunately, I was not dying, but rather…coming back to life.
Mike suggested we walk from our condo to the ski mountain, about 3 miles away. We would walk there, have a beer at the lodge (just like Ali and Ryan have a drink after skating) and take the shuttle bus back. The sky was a bright blue, the sun casting long shadows and warming the roads, the wind lightly blowing. Despite temps in the low 40’s, I was up for that walk, totally forgetting that it was uphill all the entire way.
“I may have to borrow your hat,” Mike said in the first 10 minutes, noticing that I had both a hat, and a hood.
“Come within a foot of my hat, and I’ll kill you,” I replied.
“Oh, I forgot you are bald. Sorry about that.”
“I’m sorry you forgot your hat.”
We walked on, Mike’s ears turning a bit red. About two miles in, I started to slow. I was breathing heavily. I needed to stop to rest. I was shivering a bit, and groaning lightly (to myself). I wasn’t sure I was going to make it.
And that’s when I thought of Love Story. I couldn’t help but notice a few similarities: a guy from a well to do northeast family becomes lawyer, the love of his life stricken with cancer, she not able to do what she could do so easily before, despite looking utterly fabulous (not.)
“I’m sorry I’m so slow. I’m sorry, but I need to stop and rest,” I told Mike as we stopped so I could take a breath. “I’m sorry I’m not myself.”
And together, we both said aloud, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
And then we both cracked up.
“That’s really a bunch of horseshit,” Mike said. “Of course you need to say you’re sorry. We say we are sorry all the time.”
And it’s true. In the last few days, we had traded too many apologies to count: I’m sorry I didn’t throw away the box of lentil red pepper soup that expired in 2001. I’m sorry that I didn’t change up the empty toilet paper roll and you had to go down the hall butt naked to get a box of tissues. I’m sorry I didn’t buy your flavor ice cream. I’m sorry that I didn’t turn down the heat. I’m sorry I left the lights on when I left the house all day. I’m sorry I screwed up the entire weeks’ worth of recycling. I’m sorry I didn’t text you to see how you were doing. I’m sorry you have to go through all of this.
I remember watching the movie again a few years ago…the acting was awful, the plot pathetic, the characters quite unbelievable (who looks as good as Ali MacGraw does when dying?) Of course, that line—the never having to say you’re sorry thing…is totally ridiculous.
If we have learned something in 32 years of marriage, it is this: Love means being able to say you are sorry. And it doesn’t hurt if you mean it.