Monday, July 9, 2007

Where does love go when it dies?

I have started work on another book -- now I have to actually carve out the time to finish it.

Life has a habit of jumping in and filling up the available moments. One day, I look at my calendar and think, I've got lots of time. A few weeks later I look back and wonder, where did the time go?

It's like love. Where does it go when it dies? Can it die? Or does it just fade away? Evaporate? Slip into something more emotionally comfortable, more fitting to the occassion? Perhaps it oozes up into the ozone. Distills itself into memory as it morphs into a ghost of times past, lovers gone, love lost, memories vanished upon the dawning of the realization that some loves are best forgotten and never looked for again.

When someone we love dies, our love cannot die with them. Why then does love for someone living die when we say good-bye?

Once upon a time I loved a man with whom I had two daughters. He was a nice man. Kind. Intelligent. A quick sense of humour. Witty. He knew lots of things about insects, and snakes, mountains, and mountaineering, and planets and stars and how things work. But he did not know much about affairs of the heart.

We loved each other. And one day, love wasn't enough to build a bridge across the yawning gap of what I wanted and what he needed to feel connected as two hearts beating in time together. For awhile, we snuffled around like truffle pigs searching in the dark, dank soils of our fear, vainlessly looking for the essence of the meaning of our love, but in the cold dark days of winter, we gave up on the hunt for together ever after and said good-bye. Our together forever love ended, and we each began searching for ways to find ourselves on the road of our separate lives. We took new directions away from each other into different lives far from what we'd imagined on the day we said, I do.

Where does love go when it dies?

Loving is a conscious act. We say, "I love you" and consciously hold another in loving thoughts. When I look at my daughters, I see love. There is no question that my love for them can ever die. I carry it with me where ever I am.

I still love their father, but in a different way than when we vowed to never let our love die, to love each other in sickness and in health, from this day forward, forever and ever, Amen.

The amen appeared on our journey long before we reached forever. Under the weight of its pressing insistence that this was the end, we could not find the courage, nor the strength, to bridge the distance between our hearts. There were no tender words to erase the hurt and sorrow of our past.

Our daughters were 5 and 6. We sat in the living room with them, trying to explain what was happening to the family they had been born into, that had sustained them and carried them since the day of their birth.

In the middle of the coffee table I lit a large white candle. I gave us each a candle and said, "We must light our candle from the centre one. It is the love we share. It is the love that unites us as a family. Nothing can ever extinguish that love, nothing can ever put it out. When we light our separate candles, it continues to burn just as brightly. Nothing can ever dim our love for you both. We are your parents and nothing can ever change that."

In time, the connection we had as a family has weakened. In time, our ability to sustain our commitment to ensuring that our daughters understand that, while our love for each other died, our belief in who we are as loving parents never could. That too has died. Our commitment to doing what is best and right for them has stretched beyond the limits of its ability to carry us over the gap between our separate lives and the commitment we shared as parents.

Our daughters are now 21 and 19. They will always need their parents. But, over the years, their need of us has separated from thinking of us as a parental unit into looking at us as separate individuals. My daughters don't spend much time with their father. He is the enigma in their lives that he was in mine.

Over time, I have had to learn and accept that I cannot change another human being. I can only commit to being the best me I can be.

Over the years, even through the trauma and pain of my disorderly conduct while trapped in the arms of an abusive man, I have struggled to be a 'good mother'. Mostly I was. And "when I was bad, I was really, really bad." I failed miserably.

But no matter what I did, it was love that sustained us. Love built a bridge that could not be torn down. Sometimes, as when I had disappeared with the abuser and my daughters feared for my life and did not know where I was, love was the only thing that could keep them from giving up hope. When I came back and started to rebuild my life and my relationship with them, love was the only thing that gave me courage, strength and hope. Love was all I had to give. Love was all I had to offer. Love was the only bond strong enough to heal our broken hearts.

Where does love go when it dies?

It doesn't go anywhere. Love can't die. Or move away. Or take another plane. Or ride off into the sunset. We do. Move away. Change. Step out of loving arms into discord. Take on different perspectives, look through different eyes at the one we loved to find someone we cannot hold in loving arms any more. Love cannot die, but how we look at it. How we carry it. How we perceive it, and how we view the one we love, can.

I once loved an abuser. I love him no longer. Not because love died. Love him no longer because the woman who was so wounded she believed his abuse was all she deserved died.

In her place, I found myself. In her passing, I found my courage, my strength, my conviction that I deserve more than he ever could or would have given me. In her demise, I was reborn; stronger, more vibrant, more alive. More me.

Love cannot die but people can and do. People change. People grow beyond the limits of happily ever after love into the realization that forever after is just a thought. It's what comes after the commitment to love, 'til death do us part, that makes a difference to forever after, and loving someone forever more.

I once loved an abuser and believed his abuse was what I deserved. Loving him did not make his abuse right. Loving him did not make what he did what I deserved. Loving him meant I had lost my belief in the true meaning of love.

Love does not hurt. Love does not lie. Love does not leave you bruised and battered, cowering beneath the weight of sorrow, fearing for your life in his next outburst. Love does not kill.

Love cannot kill. Only people can do that.

I was once lost on the road of life, looking for a shortcut to happiness in an abusers arms. I lost my way. But never my love. Never my capacity to love. Never my ability to be loving.

I lost my way and found myself here, in this loving place where I know, Love never dies.

Feelings fade, people say good-bye, people die, people leave. But love, it can't go anywhere, 'cause love never dies.

And just in case I've lost you along the way, here's what Woody Allen had to say about it all.

To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering one must not love. But then one suffers from not loving. Therefore, to love is to suffer; not to love is to suffer; to suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be happy one must love, or love to suffer or suffer from too much happiness. Are you getting this down?

Have an awesome, love-filled journey through your day.

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