When we were married 19 years ago, I knew about love. I did. And I wasn’t wrong because love is, in fact, gentle and love is kind. Love is a two-way street. And love is a choice. And love, it’s true, is what conquers against all odds. I knew. I did. And I wasn’t wrong.
But I didn’t know that love, also, was made up of failure. And of bruises. And of falling down. And of getting up. Sometimes. Eventually. And of a thousand thousand tiny moments and little sighs and brief caresses and small hurts and exhaustion and healing and time.
I didn’t know like I do now, in part, what love is for us. What it was going to be. What it has become. Which is always evolving. And made up of this:
Love is magic and mystery and mundane and madness.
Love is painful and peculiar and pathetic and perfect.
Love is deep and wise and shallow and foolish.
And love is…
…love is made from more than I ever imagined.
Love is using weapons of mass verbal destruction and rebuilding together anyway and then trying – trying – not to strike with such precision next time.
Love is a million dishes in the sink and watching the washer flood and knowing you can’t afford to paint the house this summer after all.
Love is fighting about money and trust and children and in-laws and priorities and then buying Thin Mints together even though you’re broke.
Love is calling him to say, “I’m OK, but I’m at the hospital. I lost the baby. Again.”
Love is emailing and texting and instant messaging. Sometimes in the same room. Sometimes about things that matter.
Love is that time you had to call him for help because you sharted in the closet while you were pregnant with twins and couldn’t get all the way down to the floor by yourself to clean it up.
Love is like water in all its forms. As still as the snow. As sharp as the ice. As raging as a river. As endless as the ocean. And as muddy as the puddle your toddler will find on the drizzly day in the parking lot right before family pictures.
Love is taking each other for granted and every once in a while remembering not to.
Love is bailing each other out and listening well and forgetting to listen at all and succeeding and failing again and again.
Love is watching him choose to love you more than he fears getting it wrong.
Love is the memory of the silhouette of him above you by the light of the voyeur moon.
And love is telling the kids who are pounding on the locked door that you’re having a “meeting,” and dad will be out in a second (“sadly, literally,” he says), and then trying to find an explanation for what’s so funny.
Love is watching him watch your children and knowing there’s one person, as impossible as it seems, who just might love them as much as you do.
And love is discovering – knowing what you know now about pain and desolation and fear and anger and falling apart and coming together – that you’d choose to do it this way all over again.
What is love for you?