When I was younger and knew so much more than I did now, I thought that love was far more finite.
I loved my first love, the one I married, with an enthusiasm that can only be found in the young. There were times I felt it may overpower me. Sadly, that love was not meant to be for the long haul and the bleak times that followed sometimes made me doubt that love would ever find me again.
Being a parent changes that of course.
The first time you lay eyes on that little one, so dependent on you, that fierceness returns and you know that you would willingly take a bullet for your babies. Mama or Papa Bear instinct kicks in and, with a depth of realisation that too can overwhelm you, you recognise the unconditional love of a parent.
At least it should be; it isn’t always so which is the ultimate shame. The weight of expectation gets in the way and some parents, in their desperate need for their children to have more than they did, unwittingly create less love and more misunderstanding.
How sad to see this. Believe me, dear reader, I say this without criticism or judgement. In the end, I truly believe most parents try to do the best for their kids.
Perhaps past hurts get in the way. Perhaps they themselves never fully knew what unconditional love and acceptance felt like.
Perhaps they just don’t like themselves very much?
One may never know what creates scenarios like this.
What I do know is that seeing your children grow into decent human beings, with kind and generous hearts, is to watch the love grow infinitely grander and richer and you come to realise that love is not finite at all.
Love multiplies, not shrinks. It expands, not contracts. It enlivens, not reduces.
During a philosophical discussion with one of the gorgeous open-hearted souls I know (one of many I have had recently), we coined the phrase – a life well lived and well loved.
As I prepare to say farewell to another member of my family whose life is coming to an end, I realise that love as a multiplier is the ultimate aim. The more compassion and tolerance you give, the more it returns to you. The more you invite kindness and love into your life, the more it will reward you, often in ways you don’t see at first.
It may present itself in a meaningful conversation with a new acquaintance, a night out with the girls with good food and wine, some sparkling conversation with new friends from another country, a chance to make a difference at work, a quiet night on the couch curled up with the dog!
The people who mow down innocents on holiday in Spain – they don’t act out of love.
The President who spews forth on Twitter with vitriol and hate – he doesn’t act out of love.
The moron who mocks someone’s religious freedom by wearing a burka in the Senate – she doesn’t act out of love.
The physio who sings Danny Boy with the elderly lady with dementia – she acts out of love.
The man who hugs his partner when they’ve had a rough day – he acts out of love.
The elderly lady who, at the end of her life is surrounded by her loved ones, including her mate of 65 years – she speaks of love.
In the face of all the negativity, and at the end of one’s life, isn’t that all there is?