Happily Ever After

Posted on April 29, 2011

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I’m old enough to remember Princess Diana’s wedding. We talked about her in school (junior high), how she was so pretty, so shy, and he was so … old. We thought he was creepy, but she was going to be a princess, and somehow that took the edge off his awkwardness, allowing us to define him as merely dignified. We hoped he was more romantic in private and for a time her life unfolded as a fairy tale because we wanted it to. Only … it didn’t, a thing that we just kept trying to reconcile in our minds as we looked at the trappings of a supposed happily ever after.

A year later another fairy tale ended in perfect storylike tragedy when Princess Grace died after her car plunged over a cliff. All the photos came back out, her snowy beauty and characteristic elegance lending sigh material to young girls everywhere. “If only,” we thought. Of course, the tragedy was her untimely death, still in her prime, … right?

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A strikingly beautiful young woman this morning wed a prince, and the world sighed again. I didn’t watch this time. I was sad. The fairy tale ending seemed ironically a tragedy.

Both of my princesses were despairingly lonely, imprisoned not only by the rigors of courtly manners but by the tyrannical demands of wealth and position … and their prince charmings. Without even considering the mysteries surrounding their deaths and their fruitless efforts to break free from their prisons, their lives were not fairy tales.

I wish my daughters (the ones still looking) to find their prince charming, but I do not hope he is wealthy or heir to a political throne. I hope their fairy tale is the real thing, not the tragedy we see in royal unions.

I hope they get married and drive off in their school car, decorated by their friends, after laughing and being silly at a reception that only includes people they know like the back of their hands, who will be there when they get back to help them unpack boxes.

I hope they have a wonderful honeymoon, and then come home and grin sheepishly at each other and wonder how they’re going to survive. I hope they look in their cupboard and see stuff they like, but still decide to come to my house for Sunday dinner.

I hope they have the freedom to make angry faces at each other in public when they’re annoyed and that they argue about money and then find ways to make up.

I hope they worry about life, about buying a house and having kids and what is the right thing to do when life throws a question that stumps them. And I hope they find solace in each other, in their family, in their friends, and in a quiet church with people who are always giving them advice.

I hope they take walks at night and nobody takes their picture, that they have the freedom of anonymity to work out their happiness, and that because leaving their life together is an option, they stay and work to build a real castle.

I’m so glad it’s unlikely my children will have a fairy tale wedding, because then they can have a fairy tale life.

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