Love. A word that gets thrown around a lot.
I love that. I love this. Love for life. Love for family. Love of kids. Love for our pets. Love movies. Love things. Love cars. Love money. Love charity. Love humanity. Love travel. Love houses. Love things. Love the weather. Love our parents. Love our culture. Love that place. I love my spouse. I love you. And so on.
Today is Thanksgiving 2019. I got several of these “I love you” today. From my friend Jenn in Florida. From my friend Keith in Phoenix/Manila. From my friend Frank in Buffalo and from my kids as well as from my wife today who is away from me on this our favorite holiday. I feel blessed to be thought of this way and it made me ponder this emotion of love.
The first love we feel is the one of our parents. My father was a man full of love. He has been gone for 27 years now. A life taken too soon. But everyone that knew him to this day still speaks of the enormous love he gave to everyone he met. They speak fondly of his memory as the love of a great man who loved unconditionally and gave it without regard to your status in life. We all miss his love. Then there is the love of my mother. Who to her core loves her children. My sisters and me. I know especially she loves and prays for me constantly about my health and well-being. Not that she doesn’t do this for my sisters either but i know she is always thinking of me. Her prayers have kept me alive. And then there is the unconditional love and support of my sisters. Who have always been there for me and stand by me through thick and thin. Who love their older brother and worry about him just as much as my mom does. This love of parents and siblings. On top of all this is the love of my extended family. My uncles and aunts and cousins who all love me and care no matter how far away we are and how long it has been. The love of family far and wide.
After this we discover the love of our partner in life. Love for girlfriends. Love for and of a wife. There are stages to this love. Some of it comes and goes too soon. Some of it stays with us for a while. Some of it evolves. Some of it grows and grows as we grow older. Some of it we can live without and some of it we cannot live without. I love my wife and my love for her grows stronger as I know her does too. But I learnt a few things about this love over the past few months. That it cannot be taken for granted. That it has its ebbs and flows. That it needs to be constantly nurtured and cared for. That it needs to be expressed repeatedly. Sometimes the words I love you simply become words. That those words need emotion and expression to go with them. And sometimes just the words don’t suffice. All the other components of a happy marriage all have to play an equal hand in this balance of love and emotion. Acts of kindness, tenderness, intimacy, trust and partnership are all equally love. My wife is a walking example of this while I still have many lessons to learn.
Sometimes we fail to do this and have to learn to pick up and restore this balance. Sometimes the universe teaches us this lesson. But once you know it and feel it and see it don’t be stupid enough to lose it.
I learnt a lot about love this past few months while I have been silent and not blogging.
My mom, sister and family came to visit for a month or so. That was a lesson in love. They came halfway around the world to see son/brother. For a brief moment I was back in India living an Indian life, eating favorite home cooked meals and being back in my culture. The lesson of love was strong this month as they adjusted to a foreign environment that was very alien to them as it was for me to see their way of life again which I had only seen in occasional and far in between visits previously. I was very grateful for their time and love. To feel the love of my mom and my sister and her family for an extended period of time.
I then found out my oldest child was having a baby. To having experienced this new emotion and seeing her pregnancy develop over the past 8 months has been a growing love. For her as she has matured into a beautiful grown woman and for her loving partner who is there for her hand in hand as they welcome a new life into their world. At a recent baby shower, I felt that life move in her belly and was overcome with emotion. This new life entering our world and mine that will make me a grandpa. I felt my heart burst with emotion at that tiny movement in my daughter’s belly. This life will make an appearance mid-January and our lives will be changed forever. For the first time that recognition was so real for me. How I will love this baby girl and how much she will love me.
I also had the incredible opportunity to go to Manila in The Phillipines to visit my friend Keith who so generously welcomed me to his home. I met his love Grace and although had seen pictures of her was blown away by how lovely and smart she was. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit for a whole two weeks with them as they took me around and showed me a beautiful country filled with wonderful friendly people full of love who welcomed me with open arms. I was reminded of a young and pure love as I saw Keith and Grace interact every day. It reminded me about the lessons of love that mean kindness, gentleness, understanding and honesty. They both were a walking talking poster board to what love means.
Keith took me to meet a friend of his John Coffey who works with a non-profit that runs an education center in Manila for the poor and needy. I will write more about John later. We went to John and Jam’s (Jamie) house for dinner one night. They welcomed me with love. I met their 3 years old little girl Ali who hugged and kissed me a total stranger when she was introduced to me. Later that evening as we sat and chatted Ali came up and snuggled up to me on the couch. I felt rich with love that evening. What really impressed me was that this young man John from Canada had come to a part of the world that needed help and was there serving his god and these people in the name of love. I went to visit his school the next day and was blown away by the simplicity of it and what we expect and take so much for granted in our privileged lives here. John’s helpers and all those kids I saw from babies to teenagers all happy and grateful to be there. To learn. Many who have made such improvements in their lives because of John and his wife. All in the name of love. The love of their family. The love of their church. The love of their friends and benefactor’s that support their mission. The love of their helpers. The love of that poor community that supports and appreciates this mission. And the love of those innocent kids that were learning about school but also about love. I learnt a new kind of love that day.
This Thanksgiving is a weird one as I think about love especially as we head into the holidays. I have been forgetting about love. I guess some of it begins with love for oneself first. I had forgotten about that. For those that have followed my blog you know 2019 has been a challenging one for my health and its impact on me and my family. In that mindset I had forgotten to love myself and my love for life. How did that affect those around me? I know it’s had a enormous impact on them too. In my sorrow did I forget their love or about them?
Life is precious. The time we have is truly limited. It’s one life we have. I see now there is so much to love to give, receive and live for. So many ways to love.
The love of people who do things unconditionally for others. The love of my friends. The love of my family. The love of my kids. The love of my pets. The love of my wife. The love of my life.