I listened to The Man Who Learned to Love and was at a loss for words as he shared his fears and concerns. When he spoke of his desire for the woman he loves to be set so securely for life after his death so that she would never want for anything, there was nothing I could say. His love should never be questioned or doubted. His strength and beauty should never be attacked. I wanted desperately to reassure him that neither does she want for anything now and nor will she want for anything in the future. Not only has he learned to love, but even when facing death he is living sacrificially. I sat silently by him desperately wanting to tell him that her physical and emotional state of health are actually better than what meets the naked eye. I sat silently by him desperately wondering if I will ever know of such a terrifying yet beautifully sacrificial love by a mere mortal.
I watched the golden-haired girl run in delight, tumble with pride, explore with fearlessness and trepidation and sleep with deep conviction. Much has already been written about her already. She is my muse for Shame Into Anger, Inquiring Minds Want to Know, The Spontaneous Heart, The Pink Airplane and Kaa, The Fudge Ssssstriped Cookie. I am still amazed at her thought processes, her skills of observation and her ability to speak with the wisdom of a 30-year-old in one moment and to crumble with the petulance of a 3-year old in the next. She is amused when she walks with my cane and is in no way intimidated by it. She is resourceful already and knows that a cane is good for killing yucky bugs that happen to invade the patio environment. She is sympathetic and mindful, taking care as she stands behind me on the stairs as I open the front door of which she is, as of yet, too short to reach the handle; with a maternal flair, she pats me on the tush and says, “Be careful!” In the next second she is rushing by me, pushing me aside to get through the very same door that is now open; she is on a mission to find her collection of balls to take outside, not wanting to miss a moment of play time. In the pre-nap aura of unguarded moments, she surprises me by reaching to pat my cheek (with her head never leaving the pillow and her eyes never leaving the cartoons on the TV screen) and by telling me, “I love my Deb”. After sharing the story of this tender moment with her great-grandmother, the great-grandmother responded in kind with, “I love my (insert name of golden-haired child) only to have said golden-haired child reply, “No you don’t.” I sat silently after this exchange wondering why this child responded in such a fashion when she clearly adores the great-grandmother and vice versa. I sat silently wondering what love feels like to a 3-year-old and how she determines who loves her and who doesn’t.
I watched the season finale wherein a young woman gave birth to a baby of whom she already knew would be born with minimal chance of survival. Bravely, in the midst of her pain, she decided to offer her child’s organs so that other children would be able to live by the death of her own. The focus on mothers continued within the episode as two other mothers had to deal with the challenges of terrifying love of a mother for her child in unbelievable circumstances. I sat here wondering how I would respond in each of their situations. I sat here knowing I would never come to realize the weight of such a love.
The calls, the texts and the visits are more frequent. The words are more revealing. The feelings are shared more often. The teasing and the laughter comes more easily. Yet when vulnerability kicks in, there is pronounced silence and distance. I have often wondered if the terror of love is more of a curse than a blessing.
Love is a terrifying thing, to give and to receive. Therein lies joy and pain. Therein is life and death. Within this terrifying love, nights may be filled with sizzling lightning strikes or with the endless dripping of a faucet. Therein may be sudden and surprising delights of spontaneous laughter or slow death by silence and indifference. Within this terrifying love, there may be uncanny sacrificial acts love or unbearable acts of betrayal.
But Love in all its forms is terrifying. Regardless of the terror, Love is what we all need.