This is a guest submission by Lanette Nelson
He walked into the house rather sheepishly, hoping she wouldn’t fuss over the fiery tiger lilies too much but also hoping she’d like them. She loved them, and the two shared a swift kiss. To an outsider it may look like an ordinary peck. But to the wide brown eyes of the on-looking little girl, it was the essence of true love, and she hoped someday she would find someone as great as her daddy to bring her flowers and make her a queen.
When I was nineteen I believed in soul mates—like when two people are made for each other and are destined to be happy forever because they are so meant to be. After my first year of college I came home and helped my grandma watch my siblings while my parents went to Wales. One day while talking to Grandma about wanting to find my own soul mate, I was horrified to learn that she didn’t believe in such nonsense. She said you can marry anyone and choose your happiness. The logic of this certainly overshadowed my own Hollywood-based ideals, and I was devastated to think that the stars did not have a predetermined course for me.
After a few weeks my parents came home, and for the first time I wondered if they were really “soul mates” as I always assumed they were. I never thought of them as wildly romantic and yet I never doubted, even for a nanosecond, that my parents were perfect for each other. It was an undeniable truth. I watched them closely at this time, and noticed a tender, loyal and gentle love that truly seemed to be the stuff of soul mates. But I also knew that my grandma was right—the stars aren’t going to make us marry someone—it’s up to us to choose. We can choose who we marry. Maybe we can choose our soul mates, I decided.
She was angry with her mother. Deep down the little girl knew her reasoning was silly, but she could not suppress her bitter retort and the mean words that spewed from her lips. But her mother didn’t fight back. She just sat, all composure and poise. It was her daddy who appeared from the shadows and scolded her. Her eyes shamefully met his, and she realized that she’d hurt him as well when she hurt her mother. It was like they were connected—like they were one. As she apologized it seemed only right that she say sorry not only to her mother, but also her father.
Neither of my parents are what Hollywood defines as “romantics,” and yet their marital happiness touches others. I’ve felt it touch my own marriage when times are tough—my parents are less showy about their love for each other—at least when it comes to things like jewelry and making-out during movies. But in other ways their love is very distinct and obvious. They are best friends, and think very much alike. They defend each other mightily and are the most loyal pair you will ever meet.
The wide brown eyes were older now, and rather than watching her parents she was watching a tall boy fumble awkwardly with his keys at her door. The two stepped into the warm summer night toward his truck. She reached the passenger side and realized he was already sitting in the driver’s side. She struggled with her door and he chuckled. She remembered her dad, so tender and sweet with her mother, and knew that nothing would come of this date. This boy did not seem the tiger lily giving, unconditional love and loyalty radiating type.
She kept looking for someone who would bring her tiger lilies, and one snowy night years later she found him. He would fight off anything threatening her and she felt the same way about him. It was now that the wide-eyed girl realized that soul mates are real after all.
I still believe in soul mates, just like my nineteen year-old self, but I suppose my definition of the term is different now. Soul mates are potentially everywhere. You need to work to become soul mates with the one you love most, and you need to work to stay soul mates forever. But the work is worth all of the stress and the sweat, and the result is amazingly sweet. I’m still learning from my parents in my young marriage—they teach me so much. The most important lesson they taught me was how to love—the real kind of love—and how to find my real-life soul mate (rather than the Hollywood type) because the real stuff is what wide-eyed little girls really dream of.