My parents celebrated forty-one years of marriage recently. Forty. One. That does not even count the years of dating. For forty-one years, this man and woman have endured sickness, health, wife-strikes (which will go down in history as the best ever), bad gifts, amazing surprises, yours truly and three grandchildren. For forty-one years this man has loved this woman, and this woman has loved this man. They have weathered big storms, both literal and figurative, losses and gains. They not only grew up together, but they grew together. For more than half their lives they have loved one another in light and in dark.
It takes more than human strength not to wrap your hands around a neck and squeeze, especially after enduring their bs on a daily. Just hearing them cough can send a person into fits of crazy, but somehow people manage. If flesh was in charge, we would all be under the jailhouse. Thank God it isn’t. Thank God we get to choose love, or shall I say, love chooses us. It sneaks in when we know little more than our mother’s voices and builds a foundation.
Love is a tricky thing. Love endures what we can’t. Love cleans up Stomachbugmagedon hot dog vomit out of the bathroom sink. Love invites forgiveness to sit at the table for birthdays and family dinners. It stands in the cold and rain just for a glimpse of a dream. It brunches on Sundays no matter how exhausted or how long the to-do list may be. Love stands in the gap when we choose not to.
I watch my parents interact. They move quietly around one another, their history and their love filling an entire room. It really is that simple, isn’t it? No extras or absurd rules and judgments. No special colored glasses. Just…love. In its most natural form, it can fill a room and there will still be more left to give.
I am learning, how to operate in love fully. If you have been with me during rush hour you know I have a ways to go, but I am a work in progress. Right now my heart is full with just enough love for myself and The Family, but someday it will grow three sizes (and I might even find the strength of ten Sadie’s plus two). I am taking a page out of The Parents’ playbook. They have endured much, both individually and collectively, but at the very root of it all is love. And in the quiet moments, they show it–no boasting, no impatience, no selfishness–just love.