I have a secret love in my heart for William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. I wish I didn’t sound like such a typical woman admitting that, but I suppose that’s just the way it has to be.
The sad thing about Romeo and Juliet is how overdone it is. Pure and simple, everything about that play is overdone. The play is overperformed, there have been far too many movie adaptations, and the discussions surrounding it are also over much. Simply put, everything coming out of this play is just a little bit extra.
Which shouldn’t be surprising considering the fact that it’s about two people who would rather die than be without one another.
If you’re a human alive in this world, you know the story of Romeo and Juliet. And you also know everything that has been said about it. I believe that the most popular thing to say about this is: that’s just hormones.
Well. Okay then.
I’m sorry, but I’ve never bought this argument and I never will. I don’t really care how old Romeo or Juliet are supposed to be. Never have. Never will. Call me crazy, but I’ve just always looked at the play as a rather tragic love story. Kind of how Shakespeare wrote it. Shocker.
You can also attribute the reconciliation of a terrible feud to hormones, too. Probably.
A few years I ago I saw this play again, and even though I’ve always loved it, for some reason this particular time it really struck me. I mean, it really, really struck me. And I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I couldn’t fathom it, really.
They loved each other so much. They really, truly did. So much that everything they had always been taught or told didn’t matter because they had found their other half. And they were willing to throw everything away for that. Both of them had very bright futures within their families and sphere of influence.
I remember getting to the end and just crying.
And in my prayers later that I night, I was talking to God about it. And, bless His heart, I just sat there and cried some more. I remember praying about this story, about these characters. Even though it isn’t real. The lessons are incredibly powerful. I remember praying and asking that one day I’d be able to know what it was like to love that way.
A bold choice of words, coming from somebody who already feels things very deeply.
(Like super deeply. You guys don’t even know. It’s exhausting most days. There are so many times when I just want to look myself in the eye and be like, “Okay. If you could not feel so many feelings ALL. THE. TIME at this insane intensity that’d be great.” Unfortunately, I have a red hot don’t-tell-me-what-to-do streak and it also applies to myself. I’m working on that, though.) Looking back on it now I’m not altogether sure I really thought that one through. But hey, that’s life sometimes.
But I digress.
This last week I’ve had two very powerful moments that keep resurfacing in my thoughts. Both of them are just statements that really touched my heart. And I think the point of this whole post is to make sense of them. So bear with me.
The first was a statement from a book I finished reading this week. Now I have read this book at least 800 times. In fact, I’ve read this book so much that I can skip around and find all my favorite parts. I’ve read this book so much that I know the story as well as if I’d written it myself. I’ve read this book a lot. That’s all I’m saying.
But as I was rereading it this week, a phrase I had never noticed before hit me in the face.
The main character is talking about the man that she loves. They have a very unique bond. One that surpasses your typical love story. Because all of the forces in the universe try and pull them apart. Literally, everything is working against them and both of them know that no matter what, even if they were to never see one another again, they belong to one another. That they were made for one another.
It is suggested to the main character several times that she ought to move on and forget him, to find somebody else and try and live as happily as she can. And in the course of these conversations she finally says something like:
Once you give your heart, you never get it back. Once given, it is gone forever.
The other phrase was something that my older sister said to me. I’ve been staying with her, her husband, and their two toddlers this week, helping out with the wheat harvest. Now my sister and her husband are an interesting story because on paper they shouldn’t work. But they do. Good grief, they are so perfect for each other it can be a little painful. Honestly. She was talking to me about it the other day as we drove through town, and she said,
We were just supposed to be together. We were meant for one another. That’s just the way it is.
And that is the truth. A lot of things were combining against them, and somehow they still pulled through. There was a moment when it got hard and they ended things. I don’t know the full story but I remember my brother-in-law said something like, “I just don’t know if I can be the man you deserve.” His past was haunting him, and he didn’t know if he could do it.
Obviously, things worked out because they are married now and have two beautiful boys. I think after a while he finally came back to her and said, “I know what kind of man you deserve and I know that with your help I can be that man. I’m a better me when I’m with you.” So they got back together and pushed through the unknowns and the past hurts as a team. And today they are the best example of a beautiful marriage that I’ve ever seen.
It’s so beautiful that it brings tears to my eyes.
The reason I began this post with all my thoughts about Romeo and Juliet is that I think it illustrates these two ideas. They knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that they belonged together. They were meant for one another. Once they had truly given their heart they weren’t going to get it back. But then again Shakespeare also wrote, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: the course of true love never did run smooth.
The tragedy of their love story lies in the fact that it took their death for love to win. I think it illustrates an absolutely beautiful point and was probably written to do so. It shouldn’t have taken that much for love to heal.
But at the same time, love like that isn’t easily found or given or maintained. Just like my brother-in-law realized, it can be really hard. And far too often a lot of painful factors get in the way and it can seem hopeless. But as he also realized, that type of love is also worth it.
That’s just the way it is.