Loves of my life


When you are growing up, you hopefully know the meaning of love from your family.  Under the best circumstances you should have parents (at least one) that love you unconditionally.  As you age, there are battles and disagreements but the love is still unconditional.  Same with siblings, although there are often rivalries and still know that you love them no matter what.  Maybe if you are really lucky, you also have grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who love you so much.

Then you make friends.  Friends have no obligation to love you.  Usually there is a reason that they love you - either you are funny, or popular, or you have a car, or you are neighbors with the guy they like, or you are smart, or something.  They don't just love you because you exist, like your family does.  They love you for a reason.  When you cease to have the quality that they fell in love with - will they still love you?  People always say that it is when times get really tough that you see who your real friends are.  By "real", I assume they mean those people who love you "unconditionally".  They are under no obligation (unlike your parents) to love you unconditionally.  If you are no longer funny, and that 's what they loved you for, they may not love you anymore.  That is a fact.  What people always say about the real friends showing up when times are tough is true.  Believe me.  It isn't that the other people didn't love you.  They just didn't love you unconditionally.  Fine.

Then there is romantic love - I think one of the things that is so exciting about romantic love is that it is completely new when it shows up.  Even the puppy love kind of romantic love.  You never had it with anyone before - not your parents or your family or your friends.  You don't just love the person because you are obligated (the way you might love a cousin or something), or because they have some qualities you like (like a new friend) - you sort of feel like you love everything about them - even stuff that you might find hideously disgusting in someone else.

I've been "in love" three times.  I've been in "puppy love" at least 30.  The first time I fell in love, I was studying abroad in Israel.  I loved Israeli boys.  I love Israelis in general, so it makes sense that they would really be my ideal.  They are strong and dark, and handsome and Jewish!  You'd think my first love was an Israeli...but it wasn't.  My first love was a German that I met in Israel - ironic, isn't it?  He was blonde and blue eyed and not at all good for me.  His personality was funny and he was charismatic but it was also chaotic and a little dark.  It scared me how much I liked him.  It didn't last long.  My heart was broken though I can't say he broke my heart.  I pretty much knew it would end that way as soon as it started.  He moves around a lot.  It was over before it started.  Last I heard, he was living in Cairo.  I don't even know if I would make his list of "great loves".  I'm pretty sure I don't.  First love often ends with a broken heart.  You throw yourself in completely, even when you know it won't last.  You've never had your heart broken before so you don't know how much it is going to hurt.

The second time I fell in love I was still young.  We were the best of friends.  We made each other laugh.  We liked each others friends.  We wanted similar things in life.  It felt safe.  I remember thinking how lucky I was that I would end up with a lifetime with only one broken heart.  We got engaged.  Then he got cold feet.  We broke off the engagement two months before the wedding.  I didn't see it coming.  It scared the hell out of me.  I was heartbroken.  The deep, penetrating heartbreak lasted for at least a year.  After that, I figured I was no good at love.  I gave it up for a long time.  Six years in fact.  I dated, but I had very little expectation that I would meet someone who would be right for me.  I was guarded with everyone.  Sometimes it made me really sad, sometimes I didn't really care that much.  Never, ever did I expect to meet someone like my husband.

When I met him, I told him that I didn't want to get emotionally invested in him.  The pain of the two previous heartbreaks was not something that I wanted to have to go through again.  Eventually, I invested....but not until I was fairly certain that it was safe.  I gave myself to him very incrementally....dipping each toe in the water before diving in.  Eventually, there wasn't much I could do about it.  I was madly in love and knew that the risk I was taking with my heart would be worth it if we might be able to spend our lives together.  The love I feel for him puts all of the loves and puppy loves to shame.  In many ways, he is really my FIRST love because what I share with him is something that I have never shared with anyone.  He makes me laugh, he loves the things I love, I love his friends, I love his company, we have chemistry!  This is it!  I've written a lot about my love for Ted.  It's the real thing and sometimes THAT scares me.  In some ways, I am still protecting myself.  Always just a little scared that he will leave me and I'll never find love like this again.  I was single for six years - I know how hard it is to find someone who you feel like this about.  It's next to impossible.  I've still got my guard up a little.  He knows it too.  I don't think romantic love gets much better than I have to protect myself.

If someone were to ask me about whether I'd ever been in love, those were the stories that they would likely be asking about.  But my three loves are actually a different list...but not altogether.  You know where I am going with this...right?

My list does include Ted....the romantic love of my life.  But there are two loves that come after him.  Next is Max!  Our love was more extreme, more unconditional, more intense, more perfect than any other love that EVER came before.  There is nothing at all that even compares.  The love that a mother feels for their child forces romantic love into a different and somewhat lesser category.  It has something to do with knowing that you are responsible for their life, for their well being, for their very existence.  You know that no matter what this person ever did, your love for them would continue to grow.  I loved his spit ups and poopy diapers and his squished up face when he cried.  I loved his mannerisms, his smell, the way his head shook a little when he tried to hold it up.  I loved that he loved baths, and yams, and his daddy.  I loved that he loved me.  And, there was nothing at all to be scared of.  He was mine!  We loved each other unconditionally. I KNEW he would be there for the rest of my life.  There was nothing to be scared of.  I gave myself to him entirely.  The only person I had done this with ever.

And then he died.

The one person who I knew I would never ever lose....I lost.  And my heart is more broken than I ever imagined possible.  There are a million pieces lying around and I know I will never be able to pick them all up.  I pick up a few, and other ones fall again.  I am in a lifelong juggle.  It never ends.  I am telling you that when I think about the other "heartbreaks" I have endured, they feel like nothing...and I can't even believe that I shed even one tear.  Nothing....NOTHING...comes close.  This heartbreak puts the other heartbreaks to shame.  So much so, that I am embarrassed that my heart ever hurt before.  But, I didn't know any better.  I thought it would be the worst pain I would ever suffer...and it was nothing.  And, I'm going to be honest: I really didn't think I would emotionally invest again.  I didn't want to.  Still don't.

When I was pregnant with Mo, I knew I would love him.  I just knew I wouldn't love him as much as Max.  Several times a day, I said "I can't go through this again".  After one particularly dark visit to our geneticist, I repeated over and over for probably an hour - "If the baby dies, I die.  If the baby dies, I die.  If the baby dies, I die".  I felt it (and feel it still) so strongly that I promised that I would not let myself love anyone as much as I loved Max ever again.  Other parents (who haven't lost children) compared it to their experience saying, "When I was pregnant with my second child, I knew I wouldn't love him/her as much as my first.  It wasn't possible."  So, yes, it is "the same"...except that in my case, my baby died!  He died!  My heart was barely beating anymore.  Just getting out of bed every day exhausted me.  I have cried every day for more than a year.  For the first eight months, I cried more than I didn't cry.  Can we please agree that it isn't the same?  Please?

But, here I am again.  I love Mo so much it makes me wild and crazy.   I love that he gets agitated when he is about to spit up, I love the sound of his cry and I even loved his baby acne.  I love his smile and the funny noises he makes (his favorite is crying "AY"  as in "Ay caramba" when he is feeling distressed.  I love the way he smells, I love his big blue eyes, I love how I have learned what all of his moods and sounds and temperaments mean.  Oh my lord - I LOVE how he is happiest when he is sitting up like a big boy on the couch.  I love that we communicate without words and that when he looks deep into my eyes, I know that he is telling me, "I love you momma", and I always answer, "I love you too baby!"  I genuinely feel that if anything happened to him, I would die.  My heart would stop...or at least I wish it I wished it would after Max I still sometimes wish it would because at least half of my heart left my body when Max left this world.

I really thought that in part, the love I felt....the love I feel as a mommy was more unconditional than any other love because there seemed to be so little risk.  I thought that part of what enabled me to invest so deeply in this love was knowing that it wasn't going anywhere.  But, Max is gone, and still my love for him grows every day.  I still find myself analyzing and reanalyzing what made our love so unique.  I still find my heart soaring with pride and joy that he was ours, that we even had those precious nine and a half months with him.  Whether he is here or not, doesn't affect my love even one little bit.  The love didn't die....only he did.  And though I am scared out of my mind, I am investing and invested in my little Mo.  I've opened my heart to him completely, KNOWING that I could lose him.  But the chance that I might get to spend the rest of my life with him will be worth the risk of having my heart broken again.  And though I am describing our love as though it is something that I could even control if I wanted to, the truth is that my love for him is completely out of my control.  To protect myself, I sometimes wish I could stop it.  I wish I could love him a little less.  I wish my whole existence didn't depend on his continuing breath.  But it does. And, it is exactly THAT which makes THIS love different than any other love that came before it.  The complete selflessness.  I love him madly despite my fear.  I love him KNOWING that it isn't a given that he will be around forever.  He is as more of a risk to my heart than any other love that came before him.  It turns out that the special love I feel for Max and Mo has nothing to do with the risk.  So I am not protecting myself.  I wish I could, but I can't.  And, just knowing that there is a chance that he will is the most wonderful feeling in the world.  I might see this boy grow up!  We might celebrate birthdays and graduations and even a wedding or grandchild.  We will....we must!  Anyway, I have no protection.  I am deeply invested in this guy.  More love than imaginable.  He has my heart.

I have had three real loves so far - Teddy, Maxie and Mo.  I couldn't protect myself from these boys if I tried.  I will love each of them for a lifetime.  My love for all three continues to grow each day.  I know that anything is possible.  I could lose Ted, but most of the time, I try not to worry about it.  I love him despite knowing how much damage losing him could do to me.  I adore Max.  I cannot and will not leave him behind.  I continue to invest in him every single day.  I learned from him the meaning of love at first sight and actual heartbreak.  I miss him and long for him more and more with each day that passes without him.  How I am still breathing is not even something I understand.  I am glad I am still here though... because of Mo.  Mo is my healer...the one who came to save me from myself... the one who showed me that there can be light again, even in a dark dark tunnel.  The one who I thank god every night for giving me one more day with.

These boys are my three great loves.  Just to have had the opportunity to love these boys and have that love returned is beyond special.  More than I could have ever imagined in a lifetime.  I am a lucky girl.


Jayden's Mommy said...

I love your description of love. I think thats what it is; when i became a mom I was amazed and it was like there was no risk. In my mind any love could be gone but not our children. Our girls were everything- but there was a special connection between them and Jared a connection that I admired. I think its because I knew and Jared knew even if one day I die they will always be there to take care of him. We both have seen grandparents loose their mate and it seems like there is nothing like a daughter for a dad. When I had Jayden; it was like I had a little man. ( Not in a creepy way) and I had the special connection with him. My little man was going to be there forever- and then I lost him. My connection with him was beyond anything before. I will go to all my family and friends and tell them how in love I was. My heart is broken today and the reality that I live of loving my children even knowing that I might loose them and my husband is present. I'm waiting for my next little man and I wonder if i will feel the excitement again- the connection. We all thank God for MO; everyday that passes by resembles hope for the future, for you more than anyone but for all of us that have learn to love Maxie and him.

SadMama said...

You've truly captured mother-love.

Jennie said...

This is such a beautiful post. I am not a mother, but this has given me a glimpse into what true love really is like.