What is love? It is hard to define the word because it really means many different things. When you get to a certain age, you truly realize that there are so many definitions and, if you are lucky enough, you have gotten to experience many of them.
The love that goes without saying is the love for your children. Even when you want to strangle them, you still love them. Even when you are screaming at them, you still love them. Even when you storm out of the house because they are all ganging up on you, you still love them. Enough about that.
The first time I felt a form of love was when my parents brought my brother home from the hospital. I remember standing over his crib and gazing into his big, blue eyes. I probably did not know that it was love at the time, but even all of these years later, when I am lucky enough to be in his presence, I still feel that same way when I look at him. And when I look at his son, who looks just like him, but with my dad’s hazel eyes, that is just a whole other kind of love.
And then there is the first time you remember feeling loved. When I was in third grade, I got myself invited to a birthday party. Surprising, right? There was no bullying involved, I just said to the new girl in school, “I am coming to your party.” And she responded, “OK.” Almost 40 years later, we are still friends. But I remember feeling loved and accepted at that party. I can’t remember this morning, but I remember this girl’s dad telling us he would take us for a nature hike if we would “just go to sleep already.” Good times.
Your first love—now that is a love worth writing about. What an amazing thing to fall in love for the first time. Remembering the butterflies, the first “real date.” The time when you were “asked out, “ but you didn’t know what it meant...only that you could tell your friends that you and so and so were “going out.” And when the person who says “I love you” is saying it for the very first time and you are hearing it for the very first time, that is something so sweet and so special and becomes part of who you are.
I always wonder about those couples who marry their first love.
Are they happier than those couples who marry someone later down the line? Do those same issues creep in and chip away at that foundation as well? No really, tell me, I am so curious. You can shoot me an email and we can make that another column. “Do first loves stay married longer than the rest of us?” Sorry, cynicism had to sneak in somewhere.
And then there is the love that ends badly. Someone was brave enough to write about that a few weeks ago. Divorce is heartbreaking. It doesn’t matter what the reason or whose fault it was; imagine what your heart felt like the first time it was broken and then multiply that by millions, and add some kids into the mix and it is all bad. But when the dust clears, and some time has passed, people are able to fall in love again. And that love becomes even more precious because it came after the storm, after the fog has lifted and the sun is shining again. I have seen that love in my friend and I cannot wait to celebrate with her.
But the sweetest love of all is the love that had withstood the test of time. The love that has raised a family and then watched that family raise their own families. The love that has had to endure sickness and loss. This couple was married for 58 years. The wife started to fade before the husband, but the husband insisted on always being close to her. He passed away first. The eulogies were about his love and desire to always be near his wife, even though she didn’t always know who he was. And not even two months later, she passed away as well. When I heard this, I got chills. She knew. She just knew and she needed to be with him again. Corny, yes. Sappy? That too, but true love does conquer all.
And as the famous song goes, “If you can’t love the one you want, love the one you’re with!” Yup...had to end it on that note.
By Banji Latkin Ganchrow
Banji Ganchrow does not use the word “love” unless she means it. This has become quite the problem...oh well!