We were sitting on our sand chairs discussing nothing and everything. It was a typical Sunday afternoon in August. The sun was shining through a milky haze of cloud, but it was plenty warm enough for swimming as the water temps had the full summer to reach the temperature of around 71 F°. We’d talked about books, kids, cooking, world war, world peace, politics, work, economics and sand. My friend and I always worked our way around to the ever perplexing subject of romantic love, so of course, this is again where we landed ourselves in the conversation.
I told her that I love him.
She replied that she didn’t understand this because it wasn’t real. Real being in the sense of two people having an in person, face to face relationship. I told her that, yes indeed this is real. Case in point; when two people meet through written correspondence, hit it off, continue to write, fall in love, eventually meet in person and live out their lives loving each other. I cited several examples throughout history when this has occurred, yet she was adamant in her stance. How can you love him? She wanted to know over and over. We exchanged a few ideas and thoughts about this and it was then that I admitted my truth. I told her that I still love every man I have ever loved. As you can imagine, my friend responded with shock. I had previously confided to her the nature of my past relationships, none of which had ever been abusive. She had confided to me that every relationship she’d ever been in was abusive. I’ve not got a long history, but at this moment I told her that I was engaged to be married once, before I met my husband and I still love that man.
You do? She said. How can you do that?
I can and did even after left me at the altar.
I just don’t get how you can do that. She replied.
I can understand you loving “so and so” because he’s so kind and gentle and good hearted. I can understand you still loving the other so and so because it was really the family crisis that caused the marriage failure. But I really and truly can’t figure out why you would love someone who would hurt you.
It was at this very moment it dawned on me that my dear sweet friend thought that love was a choice, something I could decide for or against. I was awakened to the cruel possibility that there may be people in this world who haven’t experienced the most fundamental yet life fulfilling joys to be found on earth. The deepest, soul rocking, heart expanding, body tingling, brain boggling, loose yourself into them romantic love for another human being whom you didn’t give birth to. Through more than a few decades of life, a couple of failed marriages, live ins, and many boyfriends, my friend had never experienced this. And I wanted to cry for her.
This is my hope for her and for you:
I hope that you feel love. The deepest love known to the human spirit, the love shared between two people. Be it forever or only for a day.
A love this great is worth every risk of losing your heart.
I hope you never regret it.
Hearts can heal.
And the love that remains will have the power to soften your scars, bring a suppleness to your otherwise thickened skin. It will allow you to love again. This love will become a salve for your wounds. Be grateful for every love. Love is a gift. Love brings joy and helps to build a resilience that you may need for the cruelties that we all inevitably face.
Love is what we feel so deeply that we never forget it.
Love is what we remember most at the end of a life well lived.