Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Letter to Kim Kardashian

"First and foremost, I married for love. I can't believe I even have to defend this.” Kim Kardashian 
Dear Kim, 
First, allow me to quote a line from The Princess Bride. “I do not think that word means what you think it means.” 

The word in this case is love. You said, “I love with all my heart and soul.” And yet here you are 75 days after your wedding and you filed for divorce three days ago. 
“It just didn’t turn out to be the fairytale I had so badly hoped for,” you said.
Have you never noticed that fairy tales always end with the wedding? What is next? Obviously you don’t know. Life is next. Real life. Hopefully, this life will include a lot of love and joy, but it seems clear that you don’t actually know what love is so I’d like to tell you. 
My mother has been married to my stepfather, Ted, for almost 20 years. When they met, he was 28 and she was 41. My brother and I loved to tease them about where my stepdad was when my mom was in high school (he was in pre-school). We liked to jokingly say, “Thank God! We’re off the hook. Ted can take care of Mom in her old age.”  
Three years ago, in July of 2008, my 45-year-old stepfather was in the best shape of his life. One afternoon, while running on a treadmill at the gym, Ted collapsed. No one in the gym performed CPR so my stepfather lay there until paramedics arrived and saved his life. 
Unfortunately, so many minutes without oxygen to his brain left him in a coma. When he awoke, it was clear that he had sustained massive damage. The doctor said that the heart attack, on a scale of 1 to 10, was a 2. Had someone performed CPR, Ted would have been home the next day, still able to play the guitar and the harmonica, still full of silly humor and a sense of adventure, still heading to his jewelry shop each morning to create rings and necklaces and earrings. Instead, he is left with no short-term memory. He lives his life much like an Alzheimer’s patient. 
Thankfully, he still remembers us. He remembers my mother. When he was in a rehabilitation center in New Orleans a few weeks after his heart attack, he rolled his wheelchair to every door and pushed it. They were all locked, so he would roll down the hall looking for another way out. Then he would begin again. He wanted to go home. He wanted his life with my mother. 
There are people who have said to my mother that no one would blame her if she left my stepdad. No one would blame her if she put him in a home, if she searched for someone else to love, someone who can have a long conversation or drive himself around town or hold a job. 
“I love him,” my mother says. “I would never leave him.” 
My mother is a strong and amazing woman. And she knows what love is. Love is not a fairy tale. Love is not a $2 million ring and a $10 million wedding. 

Loving with all your “heart and soul” is actively caring for the person with whom you’ve chosen to spend your life. Love is remembering the good times while you work your way through the bad times. Love is steady. Love is kind. Love is understanding that not every day is easy. Most days are damn hard. Love is finding happiness in a modest manufactured home on a wooded lot. Love is helping your husband up from his armchair, where he spends most of his days, and leading him out to the back porch, the porch he himself built, to sit with company. Love is including him in the laughter and the conversation even when you know that he will forget it all within moments. 
You are not the only person to get divorced. Or to get divorced twice. I got  divorced after ten years of marriage. My mother, too, was divorced from my father. Marriage is never easy. There are many reasons to get divorced. A lot of us have to learn difficult lessons and I guess you are learning one now. I hope you are anyway. I suspect you and your family set up this situation for money and publicity and little else. That’s your prerogative, of course. Anyone who believes your reality show is more reality than show is foolish.
But next time you consider getting married, I hope it won’t be on TV. I hope you will think before you take those vows (vows that so many people want to take and legally can’t). Think about whether or not you know what love is. Think about what might happen if the man, standing tall next to you, fell down. Would you be willing to help pull him up again?  
You say you are a hopeless romantic. But romance has little to do with love. And love is never hopeless. Love keeps hope alive. Love is taking the arm of the man to whom you have committed your life and leading him on a slow walk outside. Love is steadying him when he stumbles. 
That is love. 

3 comments:

  1. I love this. I LOVE this. I hope everyone everywhere reads it. Thank you.

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  2. I wish Ms. Kardashian would read this and it would resinate. Not that I particularly care about her, but there is something sad about her that is a symptom of our Hollywood romance obsessed culture (that I HATE by the way). Thanks for all your awesome, down to earth insight!!

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  3. Amy, again, tears in my eyes. You are amazing. This is what you were meant to do and that book is going to get picked up. I just know it.

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