Six months ago this week I wore a black dress. I took a deep breath. I shared these words with those who gathered to say goodbye to my mother.
What is love? A gentle kiss on the cheek from a friend? Words whispered in the ears of a lover? A mother nursing her baby at breast? Who now can comprehend love? Define it?
I've seen love demonstrated to me a million ways yet one experience dwarfed everything I knew about love. It challenged how I define love, how I feel about love, and how strongly I believe in the power of love. In the end, I believe Death Cab For Cutie said it best, "love is watching someone die."
At the feet of Jesus, did that disciple, that mother, that follower understand the magnitude of love and how even in death, love frees? Only love can fully permeate the darkness--a single beam of light in the dark.
Love is meeting a woman in hotel lobby, becoming best friends, and forming a bond so deep that no one would question why your children call that woman "Aunt."
Love is building a fence with a backdoor neighbor and spending thirty-odd years celebrating birthdays, laughter, burdens, and sorrow.
Love is lasagna prepared in the kitchen of concerned friends who want to help but don't know how.
Love is an e-mail sent at 6:30 am telling you that you are loved and being thought of.
Love is a text at midnight from a husband who can't miss work telling you to hold your mom's hand while he prays for her--a couple hundred miles away.
Love is a Facebook message of encouragement and a promise to send strippers and tequila instead of a plant (I'm still waiting for both the tequila and the strippers but the flowers were lovely."
Love is old friends traveling far from other countries and states to say goodbye and to reminisce about how your mom stole exit signs and only drank once but was so drunk we leaned against the garage wall to keep it from falling down, rather than the other way around.
Love is hearing the tale of how your father met your mother and how, when they married two years later, they had only seen each other four times.
Love is the friend you joked with about aliens crying with you over a mom she loved, too.
Love is the in-laws who take the children so you don't have to cry in front of them or answer inquisitive questions about heaven.
Love is a care package from your mom's group stuffed with a good book, chocolate, tea, a journal, and liquor. Of course, liquor.
Love is the people who know when to give you space and when to over-stay their welcome; the ones who know what you are really saying with each "I'm fine" or "I'm okay."
Love is caring for a lover like a child; love is sacrificing dreams of what could have been for moments--good or bad--that simply are.
Love is standing in the kitchen telling your son-in-law that if you knew forty-two years ago how it would all end, you would still do it all over again.
Sitting in a room, surrounded by family, watching my mom die, I finally understood love. Even in her death, my mom teaches me--about life. About love.
Love is messy. It is not easily quantifiable or explainable yet is so simple the wholeness of it's meaning is expressed in three little words.
Love brings great sorry and great joy. It makes you cry as easily as it makes you laugh.
Love is both random and steady--a feeling of falling and a matter of choice.
Love lives and though the ones we love may die, love never dies. It grows. It breaks. It changes. It stays the same.
Although we may be miserably broken over love, nothing can match the hope and joy that comes with having loved. Love defies reason yet it is a reason. Perhaps the only reason.
All I've learned about love is love is all there is. In life--in death--love is all there is. In my brokenness and sorrow I can celebrate the love of my mother. All I am, all I hope to be, I owe to her. Surely there is not greater legacy than love.
Thank you to Shell at Things I Can't Say for letting me Pour My Heart Out. It's been a long six months.