I have been turning over the coin in my hand, the one called love, and looking at each side again and again. I look at one, and then another, and realize that this coin has three sides. No, four. No, five. Maybe seventeen or three hundred.
It's been several years since I begun turning this coin. When I began to realize that things aren't always what they seem -and that sometimes, with love, you can speak out of both sides of your mouth and be speaking complete truth at the same time. That you can love beyond reason, beyond sanity, and that it can begin to grow something very deep and dark inside you sometimes.
And I learned pure, blissful love. That uninhabited love that comes with someone loving you completely and irrationally --like a child. And sometimes (maybe most times) that love IS from a child, who adores you beyond measure.
Mothers (oh, the many mothers I know in my life) often nod their heads and murmer in agreement when someone says that you can't know REAL, true love until you know the love of your own baby. That its a love greater than anything --beyond all comprehension. I thought I knew love, they say. And then I had a baby.
Longtime married couples say that they never thought they could love someone more than the day they married, and yet they do. They say that lasting love is more thorough and complete than one could have ever dreamed.
And I look at this, and I look at the coin in my hand. What is my love, if it is not that of a mother? Of a spouse? Do I have that ultimate fulfillment? Am I merely walking around with holes in my heart, awaiting those beating hearts that will fill them?
Love, to me, growing up seemed like a weapon. My parents loved me more than they loved their second spouses. I know this for a fact, because, unfortunately they would tell me so. I think that children intrinsically know and want their parents to love each other. They want their parent to be happy, so that they can focus on their own happiness. They dont want that cross on their back. They want to be loved--oh, of course. But THE main focus of the love? It's too much pressure.
My dad and I pulled up the gravel road when I was ten and he stopped the car. He pointed to the house and said "I love you more than anyone in that house." That house, where my step-mother and step-sisters resided. I think he perhaps thought this would comfort me. But it made me feel strange, and more aware of my step-mothers resentful glares behind her glass of iced tea at suppertime. I was loved. More than her. And she knew it. It made our lives miserable for a very long time.
Fast forward to now --they are madly in love with each other, all over again, and everything has evened out. But that memory cuts deeply in me.
I went through a phase with my mother around that time, obsessively asking her all the time if she loved me. It started as a joke, but it was very serious to me. I needed to know that she loved me, and my goodness, the woman DID. She loved me more than she could rightly put into words and even NOW she holds back in her emotions and words to me because we both know deep down that she feels them too deeply to voice.
Last week she bought me all new clothes, took me shopping for food, scratched my back in the mornings and cut up apple slices for me. She pretends she is cutting up that apple for her, and then stealthily slips a slice into my mouth while I am talking. To shut me up, and to give me nutrients at the same time :)
The love I have in my life is tenfold. I am tired of feeling inadequate, or that my life just simply doesn't hold as much meaning, as if I had the husband and the babies. Don't get me wrong--I can't wait to have both in my life. But the pity party that I throw myself because I have neither...well, this just has to stop.
Here is love to me, in the last two weeks.
"Everything I have is yours." My best friend said this to me when I asked to borrow something or another in her house while I was flitting in and out of there during all this time at home, using her home as my own home base. We were laying on the couch, sharing a bowl of popcorn. "I love you so much--you must know this." She said it with somewhat of an urgent tone, and I was reminded of the worried tone in my mother's voice when I kept asking her if she loved me. I said I did, and that I loved her too. She then tumbled into a story about her own levels and layers of loves. And I wondered -how in this crazy world do people find each other and grow and connect enough to get to the point where you're holding hands on the couch and are able to form this completely comfortable friendship that a few years ago, wasn't even in existence. It's a damn miracle, is what it is. All of it.
My very youngest neice, Baylor, is two. She kept saying "no no no no no" in a singsong voice when I was kissing her goodbye. I said that i would see her in just a couple of days but she latched onto my arms and said "no no no no no" with insistence in her voice and a grip that kept tightening. I have to forcibly remove her and her big sister from me when I am home. I have to take them over to the kids at the playground, the birthday parties (sometimes they are THEIR own birthday parties...) and set them down and promise not to leave or go far while they play.
Case in point:
"Me love you." Baylor said. Oh, and my god, how me loves her too.
They are as tall as me now, and they race to pull themselves up to full height beside me and exclaim that they are taller. And yep, they pretty much are. But, they still want me to hold them. They clamor in my lap; ask to be carried to the car. These 11 and 12 year old children, reaching for me with long arms as they did for so many years when we were all so very young. I folded my 12 year old neice, Carlee, into my lap on Sunday and whispered in her ear about how proud I was of her, and requested that she please not grow up so fast.
I grabbed Logan, and his growing, gangly 11 year old body up and cradled him like a baby and play-carried him across the yard. I nuzzled my face into his face and we both pretended like it was all fun and games. But there was comfort there, for both of us. "How in the world did I end up with the very best 11 year old nephew in the entire world?" I asked him. He beamed, and ran off to spray me with a water gun, as 11 year old boys do. It was a special moment for us.
My cousins and I embraced in desperate love and sadness over my granny's coffin two weeks ago. I watched as Chris kissed his flower on his coat, and placed it on the coffin. I held his waist and he locked his hand around my arm and we both shook. Chris and I have barely seen each other two or three times over the last ten years. But in that moment, we were completely and totally locked in and drawing comfort from another that is so like us but we can't explain it. We just ARE. It just is.
I'm not sure the point of this post, just missing those fingers that intertwine so well with mine as I watch my fingers grasp that coin. Those smiles and voices and laughter that make up the fabric of my entire support system. The ones who sustain me as I sustain them.
These are the stories of just a few. Others abound.
Love, in its purest form.
Flip, goes the coin, let's find another side.