Love and Be Loved
Happy Balentime’s Day, Everyone! (as Dylan would say it).
“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return.” – a Moulin Rouge favorite (originally from a Nat King Cole song)
I’ve learned a bit about love over the years…this year some of love’s lessons and moments drove a little deeper than usual.
* Love is a risk. When Whitney went through her heart surgery I just about exploded with all my feelings for her. Part of me felt that it is just way too difficult to bear seeing someone I love go through something so scary and painful, how could I possibly make this easier? Then I realized that what I was feeling on the surface as anxiety and fear for her was really a reflection of how deeply I love her – she means so much to me that it is like my own heart is walking outside of my body (in her). What happens to her happens to me. The only way to avoid grief and pain and be unaffected by difficult things that happen to people is to numb ourselves to not caring. But to love is to willingly take the risk to feel alongside another – to share both the joys and the pain. To love [so much that it hurts when they hurt] and be loved [by those who carry us when we’re overwhelmed].
* Love Notes. A few months ago I was at an informal dinner meeting with some other women when all of the sudden the host came to our table and said “are you Michelle?” My stomach dropped and I thought maybe Tyler was trying to reach me because something happened at home. She handed me a folded up piece of paper. I recognized the writing. A love note Tyler dropped off earlier that day and convinced them to deliver to me. My face flushed as the other women were dumbfounded by what was going on and asking for an explanation. “Who does that?” they said. He does. And I think of the boxes of keepsakes through the years. He makes me feel special. He isn’t afraid for others to see his little cartoon drawings of our family. Don’t forget, Michelle. You get caught up in the daily grind, in the constant pulling of the kids. But love notes and long walks is where it all began. To love [in each other’s language] and be loved [when unexpected].
* Love is Patient. Love always hopes. Love endures. I have seen the most powerful display of love this year in my [future] sister-in-law as she has been unbelievably steadfast with loving and caring for my brother-in-law who’s in a rough patch with Lymphoma. They’ve walked together through tough valleys time and again but what stands out is their persistent faith, hope, and genuine positivity. I’m both humbled and inspired by seeing her come home from a long day of working to tune into what he’s feeling and gently massage his back to ease his pain (no need for words to exchange, they’re just on the same wavelength). I’ve been reminded in them that when it’s time to celebrate, you celebrate. When something deserves celebrating, that moment in time deserves its full enjoyment (no matter what may come before or after). Their love has been fortified through a fire and while pain is a terrible thing to experience, there is something beautiful in knowing that their love has proved stronger when up against the worst of it. To love [when it’s hard] and be loved [when you’re at your most desperate], this is beautiful. This is real love.
Finally, a plea for Married PDA. Early in marriage we had good friends who were very affectionate, always touching -holding hands, his hand around her waist, sitting with her foot resting behind his. They hugged and kissed in public and it was married lovers at their best (and I’m not talking making out here, but sweet sincere affection). It made an impression on me. It seems like there is a PDA gap between grabby teenagers and sweet shuffling old couples (who might actually just be holding on to each other for balance). Love does not die with a ring (and not even with children). It may be harder to hold hands when you’ve got toddlers in your arms, but I would love for all of us married people to give a little more umph to promoting the positives of lifelong commitment, bring a little more of that real married love and affection out in the open for others, including our children, to see. Love and be loved [both in private and in public].
New Worlds: motherhood, Down syndrome, the delights of having a little girl. She has been our usher into new ways of loving and being loved that were far outside our comfort zone at first, but we now can’t imagine our lives without it.
“I yuh yew” – Whitney singing the Skidamarink-a-dink song