I have three love stories in my life…I’m not quite middle-aged, so who knows how many more I can rack up…hopefully the last one is it though…love stories have to end. We (all us raised in the Christian faith that is) have heard how Jesus Christ’s love for humanity was “agape” love…selfless love. There are other Greek words for love and each one seems incomplete except for agape. I strive for agape…but I take what I can get and give. Here are my love stories.
My first love story is the one that I have with family and friends…ones that are a mix of heart and head. Family represents home…home in the sense of the place where you can go and they have to take you in. Unfortunately, not everyone can boast or claim a family that will let you back in the door after life has kicked your teeth in. I’m fortunate, I have parents that, regardless of their irritation with me, always open the door and embrace me. Fortunately for them…I have never over stayed my welcome and since graduating high school…I have been able to fend for myself and make it in the world. This love is familiar and familial. This love causes me and them worry. I wasn’t the most mature young man…many a night my parents worried about me…I imagine my parents still on some level worry about me…how can they not…they love me.
This love story is painful though, my dad is recovering…yet again from a severe stroke…something he seems to have and recover from very often. This one was very severe…this one had everyone wondering if this was the time that he would be reduced to a shell of the man he once was…I talked on the phone with him today. He sounded like the father he always was…he has not regained use of his right hand yet…but he was walking from hospital bed to bathroom on his own. On Saturday he was unable to communicate very well…today he laughed when I told him I needed him to hurry up and recover because I had some wood for him to cut and split. Parents die…the love story doesn’t necessarily end…but part of the love dies when a parent dies. We remember them…we ache for them…we celebrate them…but ultimately it means there is no one to open the door and embrace you.
My love for friends is of this nature a mix of heart and head. Embracing kindred spirits of eclectic natures is what I do. I am an unusually gregarious fellow (like my parents) and I feel the need to gather good friends like warm blankets on cool crisp nights. I have never purposefully let a friendship die…but I have been neglectful…I am human. Long and close distances are how I describe my friendships. My best friend lives in Texas…him and his wife are expecting their first child…in a few weeks. My love for him has not wavered but it has definitely changed due to time and distance. Fortunately, when we physically reunite…the comforting love of friendship is there.
My second love story is my first wife and marriage. I speak very little of this first marriage here or on social media. This is out of respect for the private individual my first wife is. Highly intelligent, deeply thoughtful, and amazingly analytical. Truly an old soul who from an early age learned the necessity for maturity. We married young…right time, right place. We married, we finished college, we enjoyed 20 years of matrimony. I would not be the man I am today without her. Unfortunately, we became comfortable…old shoes…at too early of an age. We had no children, thus we allowed ourselves to grow independently…which is necessary for a mature and giving marriage…but we grew too independent. We grew apart, we wanted different things…different goals. This love story didn’t end per se…but the romantic affair of my 20s had turned to a calm quiet in my late 30s. Because of our love…and respect…we parted amicably. We parted friends…but without the bond of shared children…we rarely talk. We have made peace with our history. Thus like the death of parents…I know a marriage, a friendship, and a life can end. To this day, however, I never question a person when they say it was “love at first sight.” I met my wife in March and was married by August. Unknowingly at the time, we jointly filed for divorce on the same day 21 years before I had asked her to marry me.1 Love stories can be extremely painful.
My third and most important love story is my second wife. Vivacious…gregarious…outspoken…highly intelligent, deeply thoughtful, and stunningly analytical (see my pattern in women yet?)…this is how I would describe my wife. I am mesmerized…I am stunned by the love I feel for her. I have written about this love before. I believe I am a man who can fairly articulate his thoughts and emotions…yet at times…I look at my wife and I am speechless. This of course is a good mixture of romantic/eros love…but at this age in life I am aware that romantic love can only get you so far. My wife is an open book…she is shitty at hiding her emotions and thoughts. Like my first wife, she is my equal if not my superior in thoughts and actions. As a child, I relished a good challenge. As a young man, I took challenges. Now…I recognize that I am a man who can’t live without them. My wife isn’t a challenge in the traditional or negative way…my wife is a challenge because of her ability to woo me beyond recognition…continually, day in and day out. Some might argue that I am still in the early stages of matrimony and that I am yet to settle…thus I haven’t truly experienced the layers of love with her. This may be true…I may be writing with stars in my eyes…but I know that for love to be truly appreciated…the heart may need to be the winner in the eternal struggle between it and the head. My heart beats loudly when I am in her presence and it aches when we are apart.
I’m old enough now to know one day my parents will die. I know friendships will wither or reduce in intensity due to distance or new priorities. I know (intimately) that marriages can end. Fortunately, I know new marriages and new loves can begin…it is all an adventure…but damn love hurts2 sometimes. I know a number of you (regular readers) expect something more entertaining than this…sorry…I have spent a significant amount of time lately thinking about our conventional thoughts on love. Some day I hope that I am capable of being a selfless lover…but right now I am content to scream from the mountain tops that “I am in love!”…and still know that I am not naive…or I am just fooling myself…but that is part of the human condition I guess.
1. I hope she forgives me for saying this much.
2. What written piece on love can’t include Nazareth’s “Love Hurts?”