31 January 2005

Single...With Children: Happy Endings Still Happen

Single With Children: Despite the odds, happy endings still possible

By Susie Parker
Publication Date: 01/12/05

It was a scene taken right out of a movie you might expect from Meg Ryan - the kind of film most guys would immediately label "chick flick."

New Year's night, I was dining at a quaint restaurant.

I noticed a handsome young man dressed in a tuxedo a few tables away sitting on the same side as his date.

My dinner was going along fine. I was with someone very dear to me. It was the perfect way to spend the first evening of 2005, and the mood was deliciously light. I was in good company.

Suddenly the restaurant got very quiet, and I noticed my fellow diners had their eyes trained on the booth where the couple was sitting next to each other. The young man was down on one knee and soon enough it was obvious - this brave man, in front of at least 40 strangers, declared his love and asked "the" question.

The young lady was mesmerized. I could see her eyes were wide as saucers.

Though I wasn't close enough to hear the wording, her smile suggested she had definitely said exactly what he wanted to hear. Applause broke out and a champagne bucket materialized.

The young lady was crying, and the man looked as if he had just won the really big Powerball lottery. There was kissing. There was hugging. Glasses were raised. My dinner companion sported that dreamy, "isn't that beautiful" expression.

For a few seconds, I was right there with them all, and my heart was touched that a man would ask such a personal and loaded question in a room filled with strangers.

The wrong answer could have transformed this scene in a matter of seconds.

After everything had settled down, I looked at the newly engaged couple, locked in a hug and kiss that any other time might have made me think someone should tell them to get a room. I watched them talk in low tones, probably already making plans for the marriage that had just been agreed upon.

Out of nowhere, and I'm not proud to admit this, I looked at my date, shook my head and said, "Wow, I sure hope this works out for those two. Unfortunately the odds aren't in their favor."

Huh? Where did that come from?

Hey, that came from me! As soon as I said it I was instantly ashamed.

My friend stared at me as if I had lost my mind.

When did I become so cynical?

What in the world had happened to me, and was I the ONLY person thinking such horrible thoughts and calculating the odds of these two being together 10 years from now?

Not only did I surprise myself by saying it, I was sad that such thoughts would even cross my mind.

You don't have to write a single-parenting column to know a lot of folks for whom love and marriage hasn't worked out the way they once hoped and believed it would.

I know when I answered "yes" to that question 25 years ago, divorce wasn't on my radar screen, and I would have thought someone insane had they warned me of the possibility.

It's easy to become jaded and lose all hope of love lasting longer than a few years. We've all heard the horror stories and no, the statistics aren't particularly encouraging but, as my date so correctly pointed out, you can never lose hope or allow your faith in love to falter.

There are happy endings, joyous outcomes and many people can and do weather the storms and not just endure the hard times, but grow and thrive because of having walked through them together, rather than walking away.

I don't really believe in New Year's resolutions because I think the odds of breaking them are even higher than the divorce rate, but I have made a private promise to myself to seek out the success stories, even though I often write about the failures.

There may not be as many folks celebrating 25 or even 50 years of wedded bliss as there once was, but wonderful marriages do still exist and love is still the most potent force on this Earth. Many of us who didn't find success the first time around can still experience it if we keep an open mind and an even more open heart.

Here's hoping 2005 brings a lot more scenes like the one I was privileged to witness on the first day of this brand new year.

I'm pretty sure it's worth the pursuit and success may just be more prevalent if we make up our minds to find it. Happy endings are still a very real possibility.

Readers can e-mail Susie Parker at SusieWrites@gmail.com or write to her c/o Amarillo Globe-News, Features Dept., P.O. Box 2091, Amarillo, TX 79166.

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