A short note:
I had originally written this out because February is an important month in our household. My wife's birthday (29 Again!) is on the 6th. Our wedding anniversary (14 going strong!) is on the 13th. Valentines is the 14th. I had originally wanted to post this on the 6th, but other things got in the way. As diaries here dealt with complex issues of love and loss, I felt very conflicted about whether or not to post this at all, but in the end, I decided it was a positive message, and I hope those who are having a difficult time right now will accept this only in the manner in which it was written.
A small boy runs home from his local school and hugs his mother. "I Love You" he tells her.
A young girl hands a valentine to her 2nd grade crush and tells him "I Love You".
A high school couple tells each other of their love as they prepare for "The Date".
A young man, crushed by a breakup of a relationship sit and cries in a room, "I Loved her"
A man sits and waits for the birth of a child, knowing he will love him/her with no reservations.
In success or failure, there is a part of us that longs deeply to find and share love with our fellow man. It's true no matter who we are or how young or old we are at the time we first see something that inspires us.
When we are young, it is so easy to declare our love for things. For friends, for animals, undying love for a peer. Love comes easy, it seems. There is some level of wonder in it. As a small child you understand very quickly that the thing that makes the world for you is a hug, the love an acceptance of a peer, a warm smile from a parent. It comes so easy and natural that we never doubt it when we are young. We open our arms and welcome friends and those around us.
As we grow older, though, we become jaded somewhat. Maybe we've been hurt or maybe it's because of social standard. We joke in comedies about "he won't say I love you.." or "we can't commit to the Big-L". We don't embrace our fellow man and we find it easy to look the other way. We make love scary and a stress in our life.
But when challenged upfront, there is a portion of us that deeply yearns to just have the love and appreciation of others in our lives. So much so that we root for and cheer for others who find love in their weddings and couplings, we ooh and ahh for young love, and we are drawn to literature that expresses it.
I spent a few years dealing with women who had the worst experiences of their life, rape, abuse, rage, hatred. They had seen the dark side of the world, in the worst of all possible ways. But every one of them, every one of those who were abused shared their stories and tales with us. Their woes and their fears. And I loved them all the same. Not in the way that I may love a friend or a lover, but in the way that I loved my brothers, my family members, my friends. In the end, it was the least they deserved from me. It was the least they deserved of the world.
It was 15 years ago that I met my wife in a small location in Denver, Colorado. And in that moment, I knew that my life would change again. Her view of the world was so.. different then my own. It was vivid, frantic, excited. In her, I saw the world as I had never seen it before.
In the years that have followed, the time that has moved on, we have had our children, cared for those in need. We've suffered personal loss of friends who passed, friends lost, family members who we will see no more, but every year at our anniversary, I am reminded of how different my world is because of her existence.
Her strength, courage and love have picked me up when I am low, and her view of the world has humbled me when I needed it most.
A priest in my youth had proposed an idea at a retreat that once a relationship begins, we are a country unto ourselves. "Other people's problems aren't as important". We begin to think of ourselves our life and our children as what is important in the world. He echoed the sentiment that "Agape" a full love of another person without expectation in return should be our highest goal. I left that retreat and realized that it was wrong.. the highest form of love, it seemed was to hope for others to have that experience. Love couldn't be the factor that walled us away from other men and women, it would be the force that asked us: how can we help others find that in their lives.
Early in our marriage, a friend who lived a long distance away suffered the loss of a child, who would die shortly after his birth. We spoke on the phone frequently, through tears and laughs and we celebrated the life of a child who would be gone too soon. I never met him, nor did many of our friends on the internet.. Usenet wasn't quite as friendly in the late 1990s ;) but all of us knew what love was, and we knew a friend needed anything we could give.
Over the years as friends and family have been married or joined, as children have been added to our family and our extended family we have experienced it together. Allowing us to see the world and the beauty of it through the eyes of someone we care about.
There are two factors that judge in so many decisions of the world. Fear and Love. Fear of doing something, fear of accepting change. Fear of other people. And there is also love. Love of our fellow man. The ability to embrace the hardships of those around us and ask how we can raise them up to make them better. The love for each other as friends, as lovers.. and as family. Slowly, in groups, we build a bond that defines who our family is that goes far beyond biological reasons. It's easy to do so with in-laws and legal decrees. But family is more then laws and blood. It's about our need to find a reason to see the world through the prism of someone else. To see the world differently and find beauty in there that no one else can see.
This week for us in our relationship is a special week, but the stories here and elsewhere that I read today remind me every day of the power of love in our life. A society who reaches out for a child who has been abused. A young man who writes a poem for his hoped for girlfriend. Men and Women who now have the option to seek marriage after years of denial.
We cheer for them, for all of us because it fulfills our deepest desire to see more love in the world. To see the world as a prettier, happier place.
There will always be sorrow in the world. Loss and bad news. But all we often need is good news to help remind us why we are here.
Holidays like this week are a reminder of the "traditional" love story. Anniversaries are a ticking tape of how long you've "stuck it out", birthdays are reminders we get older.
When we look at the world, especially here, we think of it as all of the things we want to change. Often though, the best changes come from thinking about it in the terms of the people we love. How can we protect those that we love? How can we ensure the world for the people we love? How can we let others experience joy in their life?
No matter if you're single or married, gay or straight part of you remembers the loves of your life. Bitterly or fondly, they are the things that change you. In joy and sorrow, in good times and bad, they changed the world for you.
So, to my spouse who will read this at some point: your love influences who I am. And the way we love and care for our children changes their lives. When we fight for others to love and care for children with mental disabilities, we shape their lives.
We are touched and moved by seeing others find love in their lives.
It may not be the sixties, and there is no "free love", because the value of love in your life of all sorts cannot be valued so simply... Nothing they say is free because it is without charge, it is free only to give, for the receiver it is priceless.
I will end with a quote I have always enjoyed that reminds me of this, though it is not meant in quite this way.. (considering it's from V for Vendetta)
I shall die here. Every inch of me shall perish. Every inch but one. An Inch. It is small, and it is fragile. And it is the only thing in the world worth having. We must never lose it or give it away. We must never let them take it from us. I hope whoever you are you escape this place. I hope the world turns and things get better. But what I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that even though I do not know you, even though I may not meet you, I may not laugh with you, may not cry with you, may not come to know you.. I love you, with all my heart.May there be many tears, heartache, love and joy ahead.
Peace to all ;)