Really, what is love?
I get that love isn’t necessarily the same for everybody. Something that makes my heart sing and brings tears of joy to my eyes may not be as important to you.
Love can be complex or simple, overwhelming or subtle, obvious or obscure. Love can be forever or a quick, blink-and-you’ll-miss it flash of brilliance.
Love is passion, yes. Love also is dedication, enjoyment, confidence, sex, friendship, flirting, shared life and humor. You can love your partner, your kids, your family and friends, your life, your job, your god (or however you define your deity) and even yourself.
Sometimes, love is predictable but life-changing, such as during marriage proposals, weddings, births, graduations … you get the picture.
Other times, love can be a total surprise with a glance, a smile, an embrace, a kiss that melts your soul.
Love also is:
▪ When he or she matters more to you than you do.
▪ Holding a newborn child (but a newborn anything will do).
▪ A toddler running toward you with arms stretched out, or a child giggling so hard at something goofy you did to just make her laugh.
Conversely, love is changing the baby’s poopy diaper. It’s smiling while you clean the baby-food spinach off the high chair, the floor, the walls, the ceiling, the refrigerator, your face ... and the baby.
Love can be a more obscure, too, like achieving that fought-for goal and knowing how tremendously proud your parents are of you.
▪ A happy dog greeting you at the door. Love can be a cat, too, I guess, but proving that can be trickier.
▪ A song that instantly transports you back to your first dance with the person who would be your life partner. Special love is hearing that song together years later and immediately starting to dance in the kitchen.
▪ Laughing at his joke for the 957th time, or wearing the sweater she knitted for you, even though it would fit King Kong.
▪ A visit from an adult grandchild who had to drive hundreds of miles to be with you.
▪ Doing the exercises, not eating dessert, or enduring difficult medical treatments so you’ll be around longer for people who adore you and count on you.
▪ Worrying about your teen’s plans, but letting him or her go anyway, as long as those activities aren’t dangerous, illegal or both. Love also is saying “no” if they are.
▪ Taking a handful of daisies and a fresh-baked brownie to a lonely shut-in. It’s the gift of a bag of doughnuts, a tiny box of the finest chocolates, or a shared steak dinner when all you can really afford is mac and cheese. Or the very best mac and cheese you can make.
In this time of instant cyber communication, love is a hand-written letter, a birthday card sent by snail mail, a phone call instead of a text.
Love could be:
▪ Fixing liver and onions for a husband who enjoys that meal, even though just the smell of it makes you queasy.
▪ Working at your dream job, even though it doesn’t pay nearly as well as the one that bored you speechless. Love also is knowing when it’s time to quit.
▪ Filling the empty pepper grinder or TP holder, changing the light bulb, putting new batteries in the smoke detectors.
▪ Studying all night to ace the exam, so you can tell your mom you got an A.
▪ Telling your high schooler how proud you are of the C grade he got, because you know he tried as hard as he could.
▪ Sitting with someone day and night in the hospital, or making long, regular visits to the retirement home.
▪ Donating yet again to a GoFundMe account or buying a fundraiser dinner you may not eat, all to help someone you don’t even know.
▪ Caring so much, you can weather the storms together.
▪ Strength in diversity, in all colors, religions, social and economic strata, sexual preferences and ethnicities … together in peace, friendship and mutual respect. Good manners help, too.
What is love? It’s the only thing that really matters.
Whatever love is to you, here’s hoping you have a generous helping of it on Valentine’s Day and that, for all of us, 2018 will be the year of love, peace, acceptance, common sense and lots of kindness.
I wish you all of the above. I wish you love.