The Fireman's Wife

by Richard Bausch

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In The Fireman's Wife, what does Milly mean by “All I had to do was wait. Just—you know, wait for love to come around and surprise me again.”?

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The Fireman's Wife is told from the point of view of Jane, the firefighter's wife. Jane is pregnant with the child of her husband, Martin. However, it becomes clear that she isn't completely happy in the marriage. Jane debates whether she should leave Martin or not, eventually deciding she should. She begins packing her suitcases, but Martin is injured in a fire the night before she planned on leaving him. She decides to stay with Martin until he's well. The story ends as Jane tucks her husband to bed and lulls him tenderly to sleep. At that moment, after she's already decided to leave him, she finally realizes the depth of her love for Martin.

The quote that you're referencing speaks to Milly's understanding of love and her broader worldview. She sees love as something she has no control over. It just happens. Sort of like that old image of cupid hitting someone with an arrow and them falling in love with another person almost immediately. Milly believes you can't find love. Rather, she believes that it finds you.

This quote shows us who Milly is as a character. She's happy to wait and see what happens in her love life. She isn't going to go and seek it out. This feels like a healthy way to look at romantic relationships. She longs for love but isn't trying to force it. This attitude could make the relationship she does eventually find stronger—whether that ends up being with Martin or not.

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