Every couple has a story — how they met, who made the first move, the proposal, wedding, etc. If it played out on the big screen, we want it to play out like “Father of the Bride.” A story full of romance, some comedy and a little bit of drama that’s settled just in time for a picture-perfect kiss and the credits.
Our story is a lot more like “Lord of the Rings.” The first movie ends as the characters walk off toward trouble. You’re pulling for them, but you’re not quite sure they are going to make it. We do, but like “Lord of the Rings,” it took a couple of sequels to get right.
Benny ran the local Marine Corps recruiting station. I was a TV news reporter assigned a series of stories about young men going through boot camp. Unlike the movies, it wasn’t love at first sight. To this day, he still complains that I ignored him. That’s not true. I just didn’t spend much time speaking with him because I was working! More than a month later, we ran into each other while we were both “off duty.” We exchanged numbers, started texting and eventually dated.
I fell fast. Benny was smart and sexy and so much fun. He made me laugh- like belly laugh, eye make-up running down your face laugh. He loved me too. All of me. And that made him worry. Benny knew what I didn’t. Loving a service member means you will make sacrifices. The Marine Corps would eventually send him to another duty station. If we stayed together, I would have to leave my job, family, friends and home.
Cue the movie credits. We broke up.
Technically we were over, but we hadn’t quite fully broken things off. Hearing from him but not being with him was too hard. I asked him to stop calling and texting, and he did.
I hadn’t heard from him in weeks. Then, he called. I can’t remember what he said as I could barely make out his words over my pounding heartbeat. I do remember being happy. One call led to another and another, and then to our sequel.
I made all the sacrifices Benny was afraid to let me make. He made some too. Two years after moving away together and getting married, Benny requested to go back on recruiting duty. He hated recruiting, but he did it for me so we could go back home to Wisconsin. Sacrifices are hard, but we both ended up with so much more. We got each other.
Benny retired last year as a Marine gunnery sergeant, and I’m back on local television. I’m not saying our story is as charming or heartwarming as “Father of the Bride.” Then again, I don’t believe it’s over. The final film in the epic “Lord of the Rings” trilogy won all 11 Oscars it was nominated for, tying with “Ben-Hur” and “Titanic” as the most awarded films in Academy Award history.
Benny and I have the rest of our lives to write the best part of our love story.
This personal essay was written by Amy DuPont.