There are tons of opinions about love. Some people define it as an attraction, a bond, something that is unconditional and unbreakable. If you ask me, that sounds a little more scientific than the real thing. Love is not chemistry, or biology, or psychology, really...
I knew love as a child, but from the receiving end. If I got a boo-boo, my mom disinfected it with bactine and blew on it as it dried so it wouldn't sting so bad. If I woke up in the middle of the night with a bad dream or upset stomach, one of my parents would calm me down or get me the puke bucket (every family has one) and make sure I was okay before they went back to sleep. But receiving love is different than feeling it for another, giving it, or nurturing it.
I've thought a lot about what it means to love someone lately. The older I get, the more complicated relationships become, and, surprisingly, the more forgiving I become in return. We've all done it, forgive the crazy grandma for saying something mean, forgive a husband for being inconsiderate of your feelings, even forgive yourself for being a less than stellar mom/dad/brother/sister/husband/wife... all because you love.
In the beginning, I took love for granted. Until college, I never had a stomach flu without help. I said "I love you" to people who, in retrospect, I probably didn't love at all. Love was a duty that was served within families or social units that meant very little outside my juvenile perception of love.
Then there's the crush... we've all been in 'love' with someone or something from afar that feels very different from grandma kissing you on the cheek.
There's even a special love that goes along with loss. I'm pretty sure the first time I experienced this was with the death of my grandmother, who I spent a lot of time with growing up. That love was an excruciating thankfulness. I missed (and still do) her like crazy, but when she left, the love she had given me was palpable. Something so strong that whenever I get sad and miss her, that thought is very soon overtaken by a comfort, knowing that she had given me the real thing... not the iterations of love I thought I knew.
Now, at this time in my life I'm realizing that love is both simple and complicated. It's certainly hard to say why I love Bart... there are many things about him that I love, but those are just pieces of a whole.... Other times love gets all twisted up and you end up loving someone who drives you crazy and you're inexplicably bonded (damn you, chemistry) even though you experience pain as a cost of that love.
But every great once in a while, you get a glimpse at what it simply means to love, when someone else's happiness is more important than anything in your life.
Could be anyone, family, friends, sometimes even relative strangers (I am a teacher, after all). But whatever it takes to make them happy - celebrate a success, comfort a defeat, distract a worried mind, occupy a bored one... these are the times I'm most willing to love, and when it's most satisfying.
I'm sending all my love toward one special person this week. To say she's got a big day coming up is grossly understating the truth. The has THE day, and even worse, has had to wait a long time for it. I'll just say this, Tiff... I love you, and if Friday turns out to be the Rapture for you, I'll happily take care of your dogs while you're gone!