My Love

Beyond shadow lands where grays
And winter whites control the dawn
Where ice forms on every word
And frozen smiles crack then bleed
Beyond the stillness of an angry silence
And an unforgiving heart
I wait for you

When I was young, I confused Love with the sticky hormonal goo that spackles you to another person, but washes off in the first big storm. I didn’t believe it would wash off, of course. I thought those surges of emotion signaled its strength and durability. I didn’t know then that the intensity of falling in love, feeling in love, was just a tease, and that the hard work of building a life together would reveal a deeper Love, the real glue binding our lives.

I’m a terrible decision maker—all gut, no brain. Relying on feelings and instinct has gotten me into some difficult situations, which I stubbornly refused to accept as anything but the right thing for me. I clung to the belief that I would do it all again, that I had made the best decision in the moment and for all the right reasons. That worked until a few years ago when life piled so much on so fast that I shattered. I stopped believing in Love.

For the first time in my adult life, I questioned every decision I had ever made and concluded that no, damn it, I would not do it all again. I would change every single decision I had ever made. I would take a different path, even if it meant I was alone. Especially if it meant I was alone. I stopped writing. I stopped feeling. I was done.

I went to bed every night hoping I wouldn’t wake up the next day. Each morning, I woke in despair, month after month, until something shifted. It happened just after my father died. Rage that had been consuming me dropped away. I can’t explain why. Like a storm finally moving offshore, it passed, leaving me to assess the damage.

I still told myself that Love wasn’t real and that I didn’t care about people anymore, but slowly that wall developed cracks just about the size of a preschooler. My granddaughter, with all her special needs and medical complications, had torn through my defenses with her tiny fists. It’s not that she was trying to reach me, she wasn’t. She was just living her life, being herself, and I couldn’t help responding. It surprised me at first, though, to feel again. Love welled up unexpectedly. I’d try to stuff it down, but it returned again and again until one day I heard myself saying, “I love that kid,” and I knew I meant it.

When I wrote MY LOVE (years ago, long before this crisis) I thought it was just about relationships, one person holding on through hard times. I read it differently now. I was afraid to embrace life, embrace love, allow myself to soften. I believed I never would. It didn’t matter, though, how much time I took, Love waited.