Love is war, white flags, and endless grand finales. Love is sealed, strong and dynamic when aloud to be the prevailing emotion. I have a love story that I had first considered a tragedy. I know a story of love that I have called a mistake. At one time I thought separation/divorce was the only answer for a broken, destroyed, fragile little girl wondering around pretending to be a grown woman. It’s a good thing somebody never gave up on me.
I met love when I was young and even then, I showed him signs of the difficulties to come. I was as unstable as they came. I showed my teeth, but he insisted on conquering the mountain.
After six years of dating, we married and not long after having our first child a family feud erupted that would be one for the history books.
This was not the birthplace, but it was certainly the petri dish by which my struggles with mental illness would be nurtured and quietly fashion a noose for my neck. While love stood strong and unafraid, I curled up in the corner like a coward unable to bare the betrayal that encamped around me. I would cry for days and at times blame love for the separation from my family. But love continued to shield me.
Throughout my marriage to love I continued to be a hell raiser. A real rascal. I was a little girl searching, longing, aching for acceptance. I gave love a terrifically hard time for at least the first 6 years of marriage. And after that I dialed back to a spoiled brat. But love never left me.
Through all this love continued to cherish me. Love would surprise me with extravagant dinners and hotel stays for our anniversary. He was spontaneous and deliberate and spared no expense when it came to physically expressing love. But the greatest and by far the most impactful way love, loved was with all the powerful words he spoke to me in hopes that one day they would penetrate my hard heart and I would see myself the way love saw me.
I pushed love away for years and in return love pushed me towards my dreams. Love showed me how to set up a business for myself. He taught me how to grow and nurture something to its full potential. Love desperately wants me to have something of my own so that I don’t have to depend on other people or even him. Love showed me how I was hiding the best parts of myself and that I should lean into what I am most afraid of. Love has not put me on a pedestal but put me through school (figuratively) where I learned priceless lessons that you can’t learn in a classroom. These lessons have changed the way I think for the better.
Love has always, always stood in the storm. He has never backed down from it. Even when it was raging, and I was sure we would get washed away love always every time found a rock for us to stand on.
So, when love was diagnosed with covid-19 I thought Hmmm. This will be another lion that gets its head ripped off. Love will run straight through it like a freight train and not even blink an eye.
But that’s not what happened. Love left me. He left and left me to make major decisions. He left and left me to argue with the E.M.T’S for making biased racially charged comments as they loaded him into the ambulance. He left me for four days of agony. He left me to my imagination as it ran wild with thoughts that the next time I would see him would be a in casket. He left me to wait by the phone. He left me to hear his doctor say, “things are not looking like I want them to; I’m not God so I can’t assure you of anything.” Twice he almost left us. His kids wouldn’t have a father. I promised his mother her son would not die. And what the hell am I going to tell the kids!!! How will they live without such a vital part of their lives? I’m not enough for them. They need their dad!! How would I tell his daddy that I failed? How would I look his parents in the eye?
As I whimpered and sobbed like a baby while he was in the hospital it dawned on me how much I underappreciated him.
I had seen others neglect his brilliance and mistake his kindness for weakness and because of this I had become alarmingly protective of him, but I hadn’t realized how ungrateful I was as a wife and best friend.
It was my turn. My turn to love him. It was my turn to fight for him the same way he fought for me. I’m so use to him being at the helm and bearing the brunt. But it was my turn to put everything he had taught me to the test.
I was terrified when communicating with nurses and especially his doctor. It was intimidating and I was a mess but that didn’t matter, I was hell bent on making sure they were doing everything possible to ensure he came home alive.
And even after he returned home, he wasn’t here. The mental anguish started. There were times he barely knew who I was. He was paranoid and could barely walk to the bathroom. Love was stubborn and wouldn’t eat or take his medicine. It was like I didn’t know him. Who is this man? I felt like I was dealing with a three-year-old child. But at least a three-year-old will eat. How do I tell a 5’11’’ 41-year-old man who weighs 300+ pounds anything after he has already accused me and his own mother of conspiring to poison him; by way of using syringes to inject his “Boost” protein drinks, that he has to eat!?
I quickly realized that I had a job to do. Love. And then I realized that all these years he had made loving me look easy. But it wasn’t. It was hard, hard work. He had to endure, he had to be patient, he had to be kind and forgiving.
So, this Christmas while everybody’s soul focus is how many gifts are under the tree. While people are fussing over Christmas lights and possibly spending money they do not have. I am zoning out. I’m thanking God that the man he created for me is still here. I’m elated that love didn’t give up on me long ago (he had every right to.)
I am ever grateful that our love story isn’t over. I’m thankful that I can still look into his eyes and hold his hand. And that I didn’t have to spend this Christmas grieving with my kids over a monumental loss.
Instead, I learned a boundless lesson: I am not a helpless little girl anymore and I’m done holding on to my tragedies.
And I implore you to take inventory of the ones you love. Is there anyone big or small that you have taken for granted? Is there anyone in your life; blood or water that you have not valued or honored? I mean take a hard slow look. If you find that person, the one you have taken for granted I encourage you to do the work and start holding them in higher regard. Challenge yourself this coming new year to genuinely love.