It’s been a while since I’ve written, but I’m back…
Last week, my eighteen year old daughter and I went to the farmer’s market in Little Italy. It was a warm San Diego morning, like the mornings I remembered from my childhood in San Diego, but so different from the humid St. Louis summer mornings I’d become accustomed to. It was a perfect morning–piping hot Americanos bought at a food truck, essential oils for anxiety bought from a woman who gave us a ten-minute history about the sourcing of her oils, fresh strawberries tasted, ginger kombucha tasted, and a pain au chocolate bought that rivaled any Parisian version we’d tried. And to top it off–cheesy violin covers of Christina Aguilera songs. Perfect.
As we walked back to the car, we happened upon a city water park where children were playing and screaming in the summer heat. I was so happy to see their happiness and I also felt a twinge of sadness, realizing that those days were over for me. Then I asked myself–“what days”? The days of joy? Of wonder? Of love? I realized that one of the aspects of my soon-to-be empty nest that was so painful was that I felt that a part of myself was dying–the part that felt joy and wonder and love. But, that isn’t true.
The amazing gift my children gave me (and still do!) is that they taught me love. Yes, I know my parents love me and my husband loves me and friends love me, but the first time I experienced unconditionally loving another was the day my first child was born. Out of nowhere, this messy ball of new life had captured my heart, and she has it still, as do my other two children. My heart, that had been so wounded by trauma and rejection, and physical pain, had cracked right open on July 8, 1999. I knew what it was to love, irregardless of anything one may or may not get in return. By loving my children, I understood how I am loved and accepted and wanted by God.
And somehow, unconsciously, I had thought that my children leaving meant that I would be cut off from the big L–Love, as if I’d have to go back to my closet of despair and self-loathing and insecurity. How wrong I was. You can’t put love back in a box. Once we have tasted it, there is no going back. The love I have for my children is the big L–Love for them, love for myself, love for my husband and parents and puppy, love for my community and the plants and flowers, love for those who challenge me, love for the current moment that is often quite painful for me, and love for God.
Love is energy; it can neither be created nor destroyed. It has always been there, will always be there. Maybe it was my children who opened my eyes to love; maybe for you it is your pet children or your music or a partner or your art. Maybe it is wonder or curiosity that grabs your heart. Whatever it is, LOVE–is. Sometimes I forget; sometimes I’m not feeling it; sometimes I feel deeply lonely…when I do, I try to focus on loving another–and then the hearts cracks again, sometimes through tears and anguish, but it cracks, widens and find more and more love.