Not all of you may know this, but last week was the series finale of the epic nine year saga of “How I Met Your Mother” (HIMYM). Now I know a sit-com may seem a trivial thing to muse upon… And I also know that at least one of you will take this as an opportunity to see me as vaguely depressed, sad, lonely, or deficient in some way. (You know who you are, don’t do it. Not only is that NOT what this is about, it makes you seem both smug and naive.)
Since that bit is out of the way, and having warned you all about possible spoilers, let us proceed. Besides, all this info is floating around the internet, if you cared enough you’d have watched the show by now.
I’ve watched HIMYM regularly, but not religiously, for its entire run. There were times I loved it, and times I found it tired, navel-gazey, and trite. But they were telling quite a convoluted story, and after 9 seasons, I suppose they had a right to end it whatever way they wanted. Not so, says the irrationally inflamed, indignant internet! Didn’t the Twitterverse, Facebook-sphere, and yes, fairly big “news” outlets all have something to say on the matter. Most of it unflattering, and ranging from “cop-out” to “irresponsible”.
Well, here’s the thing. I didn’t hate it. I get why people were angry. Why they felt ripped off. Why they took to their keyboards to rant and vent their frustrations. After nearly a decade, they finally met and fell in love with The Mother. Tracy. Beautiful, funny, nerdy, mother of Ted’s children, Tracy. And we watched in a whirlwind as they courted, birthed children, and finally married. And then we watched her die. (yep, there it is, big ol’ spoiler. I warned you.)
Of course we were angry. We were in denial. We were hurt, angry, mildly depressed. We tried so hard to process this. How could we finally meet the woman of our/Ted’s dreams. Our/Ted’s perfect soul mate. Only to have her snatched away by some nameless illness? We felt so helpless, so powerless to stop this loss, this sad, inevitable, and oh too soon loss.
Imagine how Ted must have felt.
Imagine how we would all feel. For real. If this were us.
I know someone who did, in fact, go through something similar. The loss of her husband while still practically a newlywed.
I can’t, actually, even imagine what that feels like.
Finally, after all that searching, to find the one who you’ve convinced yourself you can’t live without. And then, suddenly, or slowly and agonizingly, they are gone. It happens. It’s real life. And even when you don’t want to, you think you can’t possibly go on without them, you do. You keep living, through the hurt and pain and loss and denial. You find a way. Because life goes on, and so do you.
God. It must be so hard.
I remember, as a melodramatic teenager, writing:
“True Love isn’t a fairy tale. It’s a curse. Because even if you do find your One True Love, chances are good one of you will die first. The best you can hope for is that it’s you, but that’s pretty selfish don’t you think?”
(yeah, I said I was melodramatic.)
But here’s the thing. That’s also what’s beautiful about life. It goes on. It finds a way. Grass grows in the cracks in the concrete, tree roots follow the path of least resistance. Life adapts. It heals. It limps, like that weird stray cat with the atrophied leg, but it still sprints when it needs to.
And I like it when my diversions don’t lie to me.
I like it when a story can be honest enough with itself and with me to tell me that sometimes a happy ending doesn’t last until the end. And when it tells me that I can still find another happy ending… and another… and another.
It doesn’t suck that Ted goes back to Robin after all that time either, because sometimes people need to go in different directions to come back together. They need to go lead their separate lives so they can finally fit together properly. And that’s okay too.
It’s better than platitudes. It’s better than make believe. It’s better than truncated endings that leave us thinking that the kiss is where the Happy Ending ends. It’s not, it’s where it begins, and where it heads towards its eventual end.
And where that end heads towards a new beginning and a new happy ending.
I’m a cynical romantic. The cost of love is loss, the cost of happiness, pain.
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth every penny.
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
–Closing Time, by Semisonc (yeah I went there 😉 )