Sunday, February 10, 2008

I love you (My Sacred Life, Sunday)

Ten years ago, when my wife Julia and I were first learning about each other via email and long-distance phone calls, we sometimes discussed the concept of loving anyone forever. Now, we were both over 40 at the time and no longer quite as vulnerable to the same kind of reactions to the power of love as many people are earlier in their lives.

That's not to say we were not blown away by the power of our connection from some 1500 miles apart! We had never even laid eyes on one another, yet we felt a bond we had never felt before with anyone else.

At the same time, we also had calm discussions about how our lives could meld, and what that would mean not only for each of us as individuals, but for the other people in each of our lives. Of course, in my case, it was my four daughters who were my chief concern. In Julia's case, it was about her long-time friends and her family.

We both understood that there were limits in how people could describe the love they felt for each other. We're not all Elizabeth Barrett Browning, after all, so once you reach the limit of your own poetic genius in describing how deeply you love someone, you move on to the next best place to apply emphasis: time! So, not only do you love someone as deeply as it is possible to love them, but you love them forever. There! That should do it.

A problem arises for most couples who have this professed love from either of the partners to the other: people change. More often than not, they change at different rates and in different directions than do their partners. The sad part is how frequently people view themselves as the rock or the absolutely stable side of a relationship, which means all the movement away is the responsibility (or the fault, if the relationship has gone sour) of the other member.

Julia and I approached this issue ten years ago, and still today, as one which is easily faced with open hearts and open eyes. We love each other today as if there were no tomorrow. That's different than claiming to love each other forever, and we both know that. Neither of us pretend that, should the time come that we need to move on in separate directions, that such an event will be easy. Not at all! But it will be one we will face together, even as we leave.

This idea of forever love was raised again in my mind by a blog buddy who wrote recently that she only wanted friends who were in it for the long haul. I appreciated the sentiment, but the fallacy is just the one I described above: how the heck do you pick them before the fact? At the end of the road, you will have with you whoever you have with you. Some will undoubtedly be friends who have been with you for the long haul, and others may be folks you only met in the last month.

The beauty of human connection is that it can be amazingly intense and life-altering when it lasts for only a short period of time. Does the fact that this connection is short-lived make it any less valuable? Not in my mind. For me, that is merely one of the miracles of such a connection: that it could provide such richness without lasting a long time. Such relationships may well be too much for either party if they continue longer than they do.

So, from the inspiration of the "friends for the long haul" and Julia's discussions with me from years ago, this piece came to me a couple of days ago. I did not write it to a certain outcome; in fact, I did not know I was done writing it until I poised my fingers over the keyboard to type the next line, and nothing happened. Oh...I guess that's it, then!

I love you

He held her hand close to his own heart
as he said, "I will love you forever!"
She had a melted, dewy glow in her eyes
and took his words as God's own truth.

She loved that he would love her
forever and ever, and it left her
securely certain that of all of life's worries,
wondering about him need not be on the list.

There came a day not as long after as
one might have hoped, given her illusions,
when he failed to come home for dinner
or even to call and let her know.

He did not call the next day, although he did
finally come home that evening and offer up
the most-transparent of excuses for his absence,
and she chose to believe him.

It was the first of many opportunities
for her to learn the difference between
"I love you with everything I am" and
"I will love you forever."


Jane said...

Lovely post today Rick! Love and destiny are so powerful.

Angela said...

I tend to have people in my life for a long time. Still have a group of friends from grade school and high school that I keep in touch with. But I also realize the value in those relationships that don't continue for whatever reason. They just aren't all supposed to last a long time. Beautiful poem, Rick. Really good.

Rick Hamrick said...

Thanks, Jane! I wish for you exactly the friends you envision in your future.

Angela--my family was on the go (dad was a dentist in the Air Force) so much when I was young that my longest-lived friendship is from high school. I also keep in touch with a few people from my days programming computers in the Air Force, so I have some friends I have known more than 30 years.

And, I can easily recall people I was super close to, and some of them were in my life and out of it in a matter of months.

Glad you liked the poem. I like this one, too!

Olivia said...

Beautiful and provocative and very disturbing (for me) as well, Rick. It makes me think and feel (so I like it a lot). I think for me both "I love you with everything I am" and "I will love you forever" mean the same thing. I don't believe that love ever dies.

I think that some relationships do not last, and that this is appropriate, but I wish that both people could be honest about the changes. Sadly, sometimes/often, one person abandons the relationship emotionally and treats the other person poorly.

I enjoyed your poem greatly because it has caused me to ponder today about what each of those two statements mean to me.

I loved the video even more,

Peace, blessings, and love,


Rick Hamrick said...

Olivia--I agree with you that love never dies. It's people who fall short of honoring love's infinite nature.

I think of love like a river, and people who fall out of love as those who have wandered away from the river. The river is still there, still flowing, still beautiful. You can't be part of it, though, if your back is turned.

Lee's River/Zlatovyek said...

Loving someone with everything you are says it best for me, Rick. Very nice post. Thank you.