28. I Don’t Know A Thing About Love

We turn to love like sunflowers.
— Anne Lamott, from Small Victories

I don’t know a thing about love. Never did. Nobody does really. We imagine something unimaginably wonderful, and then when something even more wonderful than that happens, we call it love. We are beyond ourselves with joy, and we want that feeling to last forever. But usually it doesn’t.

Once in a while, it does, and all the rest of us sigh in awe of those two rare people in our world who actually did find that kind of love. The kind where both are loving and both are loved, and they cherish each other all the rest of their lives. My mother and father had that, and maybe my teenage girlfriend Mary Frances Butler’s mother and dad had that, I don’t know for sure, but maybe.

I know something about lovemaking. I have both given and received some of that, very sincerely and lovingly. I had a beautiful love once that lasted seven years. But then it shattered like one of those pretty crystal orbs from near the top of the Christmas tree, fallen onto a hard stone floor. Shattered in a quiet explosion that everyone else hardly noticed, into bits so finely fragmented that they could never be put back together. A poof of dust almost. Simply gone. I had wanted it to last forever. It didn’t. It couldn’t. But it tried.

The only thing I know for sure is, love is still the best feeling in the whole wide world. I have never felt so happy, so joyous, ever in my life as I did when I was loved. And giving never feels so good as it does when you’re giving from love. The pain of losing that love was immense, overwhelming. It took a long time for me to heal, and it left scars. But if I had it all to do over, I would still do it.

We learn or don’t learn how to love, from our parents. That is their greatest gift to us, but sometimes they don’t have that themselves. They can’t give us what they don’t have, though they would if they could. That makes it harder for some of us, maybe most of us– we have to figure it out for ourselves. It’s a good thing, to love, and it’s good thing to be loved, and because of who we are, human beings, we will always seek for some kind of love the same way flowers always lean toward the sunlight. It’s our nature.

If you can get some love, you should. If you can give some love, you should. Even if the two things don’t come at the same time. If you can have both at the same time, then you are the two most blessed beings on the whole Earth. Don’t expect it to last forever, don’t require it to, but always believe it might. Then cherish every day, every little moment of it.

My mother and dad are gone now and they are out there in the cosmos somewhere, but they’re together, and still loving each other. Truly, forever.

It is not impossible.

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