Archive for August, 2019

Same Goes for Love: Seven Years

August 7, 2019 Leave a comment



Last week, I was talking to a friend about how the anniversary of my mom’s death is today. And I hate using that word—forever and always—because anniversaries are supposed to be happy. It’s hard to feel happy, when you’re sad. And some years, it’s okay. And some years, it’s just…not. It’s impossible to predict how it’ll go, because grief—although seven years have passed—is a chameleon of a feeling. It changes shape, but never vanishes.

Still, as my friend reminded me, it’s important to celebrate that person. And my mom, for all her faults and the times we didn’t get along (possibly because of my faults), she was a really good person. The kind of person who always went the extra mile, without having to be asked, without expecting anything in return. She just did nice things because that’s who she was. And I’m not sure I understood, growing up, how rare that is. To an extent, I knew how lucky I was. But sometimes, you can only fully grasp something through its absence. Same goes for love, when it vanishes. Like the tide rushing in, there’s a void with its own precise pull. Inherently, it’s neither bad nor good. It’s just there.

Once, my mother secretly flew my best friend across the country to surprise me for my birthday. To the day, it’s the coolest thing anyone has probably ever done for me, and it’s a solid yardstick for grand gesture (on both their parts—my best friend is the actual best, and I am lucky). My BFF walked into the house like something out of a movie, and well, if you want to impress me—I’m not saying you have to fly across the country, but. That kindness, that genuine show of unconditional love, is a big part of who my mother was. If I succeed in being half as kind and half as demonstrative as she was, I’ll consider myself lucky.

I can’t remember if I’ve ever told you the time I dreamed up the desk that I wanted. I had this idea of a grey and black marble table with a black, wrought iron base. I was close to twenty at the time and just muttering about it. My old desk was ancient and a sad little heap of leftover childhood. But my mother? She went out and found the exact desk I’d imagined, and I’m still not convinced it wasn’t witchcraft. I still use it, although I’ve chipped a corner and scratched the surface a bit.

Love isn’t, of course, about things. You can’t measure it in gifts, and I never have. I can measure it in the innumerable times my mother stayed up with my while I had a fever. (I was a sick kid, growing up. Being born over three months premature will do that to a human.) I can measure it the myriad times my mom volunteered at my school, when I was a kid. I can even measure it in the times we argued over what, exactly, was I doing at a particular moment. That always came from a place of love, too, because she just wanted me to be happy.

In the end—that is to say, close to the end—my mom made it clear that she wanted me to be happy. Even if she didn’t understand what made me happy, she supported it. Although, it was a rocky road getting there. In truth, my mom spent her whole life trying to make sure those in her life knew that they were loved. In small ways, in big ways. It was who she is—never leaving room for doubt, never failing to show up.

That is a gift she gave me, too. I’m naturally a CareBear, who hugged her bus driver and learned to walk because her oldest friend was across the room and wanted a hug. Proof that I will always chase after what I want, even if I’ve never done it before. There’s always a first time. But back to the point: I strive to make sure everyone I care about knows it, without question and without strings. Because love isn’t a tally you keep about what you get out of a relationship. It’s about seeing someone’s face light up. It’s about the small gestures that can turn a whole day around. It’s the details that make up a life, and the lengths you go to, to tuck someone into the heart of your life.

Today, I am remembering that unconditional love. That unshakeable, undeniable kindness—the uplifting gestures and moments. I know what love is, and I know what love can do. It’s not always easy, but it adds more good than bad to a life. It’s not always safe, but it makes you feel safe. It’s not always simple, but honestly, if it isn’t a little complicated, I don’t understand it. Love, when it’s real, stands the test of time—regardless of distance or circumstance. And that includes death.

So, if you’re so inclined and feeling brave, go out and be the love you wish to see in the world. Make someone feel cared for, without a single hitch or expectation. Do a random act of kindness. Text a friend and tell them you’re thinking of them. Give someone a sincere, unexpected compliment. Tell a stranger you like their hair.

And, if you’re really brave, kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful. Tell them just how wonderful you think they are. And make sure they feel it. Tomorrow isn’t certain. Today isn’t either. What would you do, if you knew today was your last breath? Go be brave, darlings.

Categories: Uncategorized