Sunday, March 31, 2019

A Peculiar Kind Of Love


It was love at first sight. I knew how the boy felt who clambered breathlessly through his front door and cried, “Dad! I’m in love!”

“How do you know it’s love?” his father asked.

“Because, when I kissed her good night, her dog bit me and I never even felt it ‘til I got home!”

I can relate, because even without the dog-bite test I knew love when it bit me. And it must have bit her, too, because a few weeks later she asked me to marry her (well, that’s how I remember it anyway). Before long, though, I began to notice something “peculiar” about her love. She sometimes said strange things like “I love you too much to hold on to you.” Or, “I want you to be happy...even if that means we won’t be together.”

I know what she meant. She meant that marriage was a serious commitment and she didn’t want me to regret later that we plunged into it. Another time she said, “I love you so much I want to let you go. I don’t want you to feel tied to me.”

Talk like that sounded peculiar to me. You see, my love was a little different. “I love you so much I want to always keep you with me,” better described my kind of love. “I love you too much to ever let you go,” was more typical of how I felt.

My love was a hanging-on kind of love. I wanted to hang onto her no matter what. Hers was a letting-go kind of love. She wanted me to get free now, if I needed to. My love worried about what it might do to me if I lost her. Her love worried about what it might do to us if she hung on too tightly.

One day she returned from a doctor’s appointment distraught. “He told me I can’t have babies,” she said. Her swollen eyes overflowed. “I know you want children. I’ll understand if you don’t want to marry,” she continued. “I love you too much to keep you.” There again – that peculiar letting-go kind of love.

All of this happened many years ago and, in the meantime, I learned a couple things about love.

Love can sometimes be about hanging on. Through thick and thin.

But it can also be about letting go. Like opening a hand and setting a butterfly free. It is as simple and as difficult as that.

Over the years we’ve found ourselves hanging on to one another, and it’s gotten us through some pretty rough patches. But other times we had to let one another go; to go in a new direction, to spread our wings. Love is a little bit of both...hanging on and letting go.

And I learned something else, too. The doctor was wrong about the babies.

-- Steve Goodier

image: flickr.com/blinking idiot

3 comments:

Ed Brown said...

The same dilemma can occur when you learn the one you love is dying. You don't want them to leave you, but seeing them in pain causes you to consider it may be time to let them go.

Marilyn Mesch said...

What a. Beautiful post. And i am glad the doctor was wrong.
Re Ed Brown’s post. I have been at that point three times. Obce to my husband of 40 years who had cancer twice, once to my husband of 12 years who had COPD. And to my dog of 18-1/2 years. A very hard thing to say. “It is ok to go.”

Steve Goodier said...

Thanks for the thoughtful comments.