There are so many ways to love, it staggers the imagination to even contemplate.
I’ve learned, over the years, to never take any scrap of it for granted.
Too many loves lost.
A sister of the heart, taken too soon by cancer.
Lovers, who left me reeling in the wake of their departures.
Ex-husbands who withdrew their affections, leaving their own scars on my soul as they were cut from my heart and life.
Friends, whose deaths were painful reminders that you have to LIVE each moment you have with them, so that you can be the remaining living testament and monument of their life.
This is why I don’t hide my love for others.
This is why I tell the people that I care about, that I love them.
Because we all need to know.
We need to know that someone loves us.
Without limitation, without obligation, unconditionally, loves us.
When I talk to my Beloved Nephew, my kids, my parents… I always end the call with “I love you”.
Because I want them to know.
If something were to happen, I want them to remember that our last conversation ended that way.
With other friends, it’s more difficult… Awkward, because, some get it tangled up with the sentiment of being “in love”.
The two are not the same.
I am not “in love” with anyone right now, because that has to be reciprocal. It involves knowing someone else well enough to know that that other person has you in their heart the same way you have them in yours. It involves passion as well as compassion. It involves the desire to remain with that one person as a partner.
No one wants me in that way.
But there are plenty of people I love.
If I could tell them…
And while I might not say the exact words out loud…there are other ways to express it.
A teasing text, a “drive safe”, a “sleep well”, a concerned question as to their well-being… All of this and more are ways to show them I love them.
I just wish they’d let me say the words without freaking out. If I could explain, maybe, and yet…I know it’ll end up the same as always. And I’ll be left with the shadow of them disappearing into the distance again.
Because my love seems to be frightening in its intensity, even though it really isn’t. It is given unconditionally, with no expectation of reciprocity. Whether they love me back or not…doesn’t really matter.
I’d still be here for them.
Because that’s who I am.
It kills me over and over, but I die willingly each time. Because love is worth the pain.
I’ve seen both sides.
Love is so worth it.
In talking to the Beloved Nephew tonight, we discussed this post, and I came out with something I had to add.
Unconditional love, by my definition, means that you love someone enough to want only the best for the person you care about – even if that does not involve you.
It might be painful, but that’s not the point. The point is, that the person you love, gets what they need, and that you are happy for them because this means they’ll be better for it. And if that means their life moves away from yours…it doesn’t mean you love them any less…it means you love them enough to give them up.
To watch someone attain their heart’s desire, their goal, their next step in life, whatever it us – and to cheer them on in their endeavor, this is love. To support them emotionally as they strive for their goal, this is love.
To step back – if they need you to – to walk away – if they need you to – this too is love. Even when it burns.
Babies are born inherently selfish. They have to be in order to survive. They have to reach out and demand everything from those around them just to live and thrive.
Unconditional love is not something we’re born with.
It is something we learn.
It is something we have to be given, in order to give it away.
And, I’ve found, that those I’ve met who understand the true meaning of unconditional love, don’t always come from conventional upbringings.
They don’t always come from the perfect 2 parent households.
But – they always come from a life where someone, somewhere in their life, gave them unconditional love.
They were taught how to love that way.
So, they know how to love that way.
I was taught by many throughout my life. Family, friends, children, lovers…they all showed me in different ways about different facets of love.
So many ways to love.
So many people I love.
I just wish they all understood my love.