• Helen

First Kiss?

Updated: Feb 28

On their wedding website two of our young friends share their game of ‘Mr and Mrs’. Who takes longer to get ready? Who’s more likely to keep the house clean and tidy? What was our most memorable date?

After 49 years of marriage, Mike and I can answer some of their questions on our own relationship without too much difficulty. A friend once told me, ‘In most marriages there is a ‘just in case’ person and a ‘just in time’ person! No doubt who’s who with us. Mike always but always gets ready first.

Cleanliness and tidiness? Hmmm...a bit more difficult. Neither of us like dirt or disorder. Mike is naturally more ‘contained’. I am probably more likely to leave things around and have a grand clear up every now and then.

What about the other Mr & Mrs questions? With the help of a report in a church magazine for 1968, we recently discovered the actual date we first set eyes on each other - 18th July. We were on a church ‘motorcamp’ trip around the Norwegian fjords – potentially a most romantic backdrop. We can remember lots of romantic and not-so-romantic exchanges. The first words Mike ever said to me? ‘You do your fair share of talking, don’t you?’ What a great chat up line – not!!

We both remember the first real conversation we ever had as our minibus bumped along the Norwegian roads – it was about trying to be a Christian in university – an experience we were both in the middle of. And we talked about books – we do remember that CS Lewis and The Four Loves figured! I thought what an interesting man he was (and that view has never changed!). We’ve been talking about books and love and the secular Christian ‘divide’ and every other aspect of life ever since! Of course, we don't always agree - that would be boring!

But some of our friends’ Mr & Mrs questions we can’t answer. Neither of us has a clue who was the first to say, ‘I love you’! And we discovered with some surprise recently that, though we can remember many intimate and romantic moments, neither of us can remember our very first kiss!

So on this Valentine’s Day half a century later – even if we can’t remember first kisses or protestations of love – what is left of those early romantic encounters?

Perhaps one of the most memorable times we’ve had this year happened about a month ago. Mike spent three nights in hospital. (nothing to worry about and the NHS were fantastic!) Of course, I went in to visit him. Once we’d caught up on all that had happened since we parted the previous day, we just sat there. Mike was on the bed. I was on the plastic NHS chair at the side of the bed. The small ward and the corridor outside were quiet. Hard fluorescent lights bore down. The man in the bed opposite was sleeping quietly but not looking too good – a reminder of mortality! We sat there silent for some time, side by side, holding hands. Just glad to be alive as long as we are together.

On that afternoon, as so often in the last 49 years, I was reminded of a quotation I associate with C.S. Lewis’ ‘Four Loves’ . They are not Lewis' words but come from Antoine de Sainte-Exupery: Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”

Of course, we wish all our readers a Happy Valentine's Day. More than that, we hope that wherever you find yourself, there is someone gazing outward with you in the same direction - at least some of the time!


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