Last week was a rough one.
The world seems to be madly spinning, and people forget who they are… but an old man ran after me at Walmart a few days ago, his hand extended and full of my phone, asking if I forgot something. He might have been surprised when tears sprang to my eyes when I thanked him. There is so much beauty all around us, isn’t there? With all this swirling life and push and pull of the cycles of life…. it’s a beautiful day and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to hope that love wins.
Love wins every time we take a moment to rescue a tiny shivering pregnant dog stuck in a fence during morning walks, and love wins when we smile and coo at the puppies she delivers a few days later. Love wins when we show ourselves, when we ask for help, when we realize we’ve been a drama queen and we say we own that. Love wins when we share our grief with each other over losses of people who were gone too soon, pulled out of our arms – our fathers, our aunts, our grandparents, our friends, our children. Love wins.
Love wins when a watery smile is returned with a wink of encouragement. When they just hug you with everything in them to hug. When they smile at the memory and blink back tears and hope fills their heart.
Love wins when we surround her frail and tiny body with all of our vitality and strength. When she giggles a little and says “this girl knows just how to hug.”
Love wins when the pecan pie turns out perfect, not because it didn’t boil over (it did), or because the crust was just the right color of golden (it wasn’t), but because there was whipped cream, made by those hands that are connected to the arms, connected to the body, surrounding the heart of That One. That One, who gives so much of herself to everyone around her. That One, who tells me in a quiet voice in the kitchen that she’s made mistakes and hurt people, but she’s been pretty blessed anyway. That One, who reminds me that love is really the only thing that matters. That One, who has decades on me in age, and who decided I should be loved even though she was taking a risk.
Love wins when the boy running the Starbucks drive-in smiles and hands her the cup with the words “the car before you paid for your order.” When her eyes become big and watery. When she asks how long they’ve been doing that. When she pays for the car behind her and turns to me: “People are really good. There is so much good. Aren’t we lucky for this moment?” and I squeeze her hand and look out of the window so she doesn’t see the tear running down my cheek, and I wait until the lump in my throat subsides and say “I love you, Mom.”
Love wins when my brother’s voice on the phone is full of excitement, as he laughs about his kids’ latest adventures. As he insists that it’s time for me to write my book. As he orders me to give him a draft by April 1. When we share concern for our dad. When we joke about emergency bird calls to signal impending doom. When we remember to say those three words before we hang up and go about our busy lives, 900 miles apart. Love wins.
Love wins when I hear them talking, telling a story, remembering something that happened between them last week or last year or a hundred years ago. When I see them, comfortable as only old friends can be. When I smile at their crinkled hats and belly laughs and knee slaps, still sharing that moment they shared, even though they’re sitting now in vinyl chairs in a waiting room, strangers to me.
Love wins when I see her bury her face in the blond curls springing up from her baby’s head and he looks curiously around. When I meet her eyes, full of love, full of thankfulness for this precious baby, I remember that feeling and look over at my own kids, who have decided that Walmart needs to view a sibling spat to remind them what is real. And when I see my daughter hugging the little one too tight, and my other son rolling his eyes with a smile playing on the corners of his mouth, I grin. Because this is real. This is my love.
Spending too much time in hospitals, looking at my friend who seems to be slipping further into himself and holding on a little longer than I needed to when we hug goodbye, my spirit reminding his that we’re in this together. Seeing the man I was once married to soften and then laugh as we sit in the same room for so many hours, watching him share our baby with another important man in our baby’s life. Hugging a friend who lies in a bed waiting for yet another procedure to give her just a bit more life. Refreshing the caringbridge site a million times to find out if a friend from long ago is ok, if he’s made it through the surgery fine and intact, while his wife and my very best friend from childhood through college is sitting in a hospital waiting room, waiting for the next few hours to hear from the doctors about whether the brain surgery is successful… and continuing to wait for days and weeks to find out if he lost any of himself, as the tumor is in the middle of his memory center.
And all of this giving me a pause, and an opportunity for hope. Hoping, always hoping that love wins again. In this game, my money is on love. This gambler is all in. Love wins.