Love In Hiding

love is blindA woman says of her struggling marriage, ‘Love is supposed to be easy.’  Oh, really?  Where did you get that cockamamie idea?

Perhaps I might have agreed when I was sixteen and fell head over heels for the first boy who returned my affection.  But in a month’s time, a breakup occurred and love ceased being easy.  Love, I learned, could be cruel and uncomfortable.  It could also be thrilling and rewarding.  But never easy.

To be fair, it’s not love itself that is hard.  Life just makes it look that way.  It’s hard to see through the smoke screen of work and stress and disappointment and failure.  Love doesn’t make a ready appearance in the sassy child or the nagging spouse or the demanding boss.  But it is there for the taking.

Love is the reason one puts up with the nonsense of life.  It is the motivation to hold things together –  the reward at the end of the struggle.  Love is not the magic potion that makes the messy disappear, replacing it with perpetual sunshine and butterflies.  Love is the place you try to return to every time life pulls you out to sea.

A mother whose daughter was away at camp wondered, ‘Is it bad that I don’t miss her?  Does it mean that I don’t love her?’  Again, I ask, really?

Love doesn’t have to mean wanting to spend twenty-four hours a day with someone.  Love cannot be defined in neat little packages like this.  It refuses to look a certain way or act a certain way.  It simply cannot be contained in a defined set of parameters.

We have an expectation that love is the bandaid to life.  We count on it to protect and heal even when we’ve turned away.  We slip into the habit of placing love in a corner and ignoring it whilst we charge through life, full of expectations.  In the process of living, we may trick ourselves into believing that a new someone or a new something is more lovable than the old something we already have – the one that has lost it’s shine.  We gravitate toward new love like moths to a flame and realize, wen we get really close, that we can still get burned.  A flame is a flame.  Love is love.  It does not change.

Love itself is constant and accessible.  It will not demand entrance in places that we have closed off.  But if it is invited, right here and now, with the person you think you’ve forgotten how to love, it will come back.  It has to.  For it does not make its own choices.  Love only responds to our invitation.

Man’s Best Friend, and Woman’s and Children’s

dogAn orphaned four year old dog named Rex meets a longing family who is eager to fill their hearts with a new friend.  They are not worried about the dog’s bad habits, his loud bark, or his boundless energy.  They can see that he is smart and eager to learn.  He responds to their attention with the same vigor as he does to his food bowl.

For eight years, the children and Rex grow up together.  They play together, annoy each other, and rejoice in unison when treats are dispersed.

Rex causes grief, as labs can.  He eats Mom’s flowers, steals pizza out of the hands of children, and swipes roast chicken off tables.  But still he is loved.

Slowly, age catches up to Rex, given away by a limp and and a gray muzzle. Peach remarks that even though he’s old, Rex still enjoys a good squirrel chase.

Until the day he let the squirrel pass without so much as the blink of an eye.  He also stopped noticing, or caring, when visitors entered the house.  And he couldn’t be bothered to get up for dinner.

“It’s time.” Mama said, but even she wasn’t sure.  Is he suffering?  What would he want?

The family waited, maybe too long, to make the decision.  Objective eyes assured them that Rex needed to be freed from his cumbersome body.

So the family made THE appointment.  They smothered him with love those last few days, feeding him previously forbidden treats and giving endless belly rubs. A stepping stone was made in his memory while big tears fell.

Mama holds the empty collar and slack leash, missing the tug at the other end.  Peach plays the blues on the piano, then asks to go shopping – her girlish escape.  Beagle reminisces about the time he convinced Mom to let Rex sleep in his bed.  Rex was the brother he never had.  Husband attempts humor and Principessa just sobs.

Life, in its busyness, tricks us sometimes into believing that pets are just another chore.  But when they leave us, the enormity of their contribution to the family crashes into awareness, leaving a gaping hole.  Life is strangely quiet without Rex.  We are a family minus one – one loud, lovable lab.

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