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What I Didn’t Know About Love

November 30, 2011
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I’m standing over a much-loved kitchen sink with my hands deep in a wash basin.  My fingers are starting to prune and I rinse platter after platter through the suds and the rag and the gently dripping tap of the faucet.  I am looking out of the window in front of me, out into the garden and the farm and the pine trees.  Out into the mountain peaks and snow caps and blue Adirondack air.

My husband’s grandmother comes quietly into the kitchen, checking on her various Thanksgiving delicacies.  I watch the gentle gray wisps of her hair and her soft feathery hands as she works her loving magic over our meal.  My dish drying has slowed and I am watching her move, watching her tend to all the people and things she cares about most.  She catches my gaze, and does well to not make me feel silly.  She just smiles and rubs my arm.  “I’m so glad you’re here,” she says.  And she is genuine, so incredibly genuine that I feel it spread all over my skin and curl under my toes and wrap me in a new lifetime of family and togetherness.  “Me too,” I say back, and I place my hand on top of hers.

And there we are.  Someone else’s grandmother and someone else’s granddaughter and yet, she is mine and I am hers.  And I feel it.  I know it.  We’re joined together now.

Love can multiply.

Later in the weekend, we are at my husband’s parents’ house and I am talking to my mother-in-law in their kitchen.  We are talking about work and kids and education and I am suddenly overcome with a need to hug her.  So I do.  I let my arms go around her and my face bury itself into her shoulder and I’m so happy she’s here with me that I get a rim of tears in my eyes.  I feel her arms around me and I can smell her shampoo and I just never knew a mother-daughter love could exist like this.  I didn’t know family love could exist outside biological bounds.  I didn’t know her presence could nurture and rejuvenate me so much.  I didn’t know, standing there amongst the pots and the pans and the smell of gingerbread coffee, that I could find that kind of love.  Overwhelming, all-sustaining, come-as-you-are love.

I didn’t know love could multiply.

And then I’m back home, in my own house, and I’m looking at a picture of my sister’s pregnant belly.  It’s growing and she’s finally showing the world that there is a baby living inside her.  I am caught off guard by my tears.  I am caught off guard by the instantaneous joy.  She’s beautiful and the baby is beautiful and here comes this person who I will know for the rest of my entire life.

And this love, it just keeps multiplying.

Across homes and kitchens and car rides.

Across genetics and biology and blood lines.

Across states and airplanes and vacations that are never long enough.

Love multiplies.

It doubles and triples itself at the most opportune and surprising times.

It catches us in moments that take our breath away.

It finds us in ways we least expect it.

And when we think there isn’t enough, love keeps on growing.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 30, 2011 9:42 pm

    Oh, my – so gorgeously true. You have captured this wondrous reality that some of us are blessed by so very, very well. I give thanks every day of my life for ALL of my family – the one I was born to, the ones born to me and the ones that are now mine because of my husband. We’re in the long, slow, hard process of saying good-bye to my MIL and it is painful and so sad and also wonderful: because the sadness speaks of the depth of love that has existed for nearly 46 years now. We will miss her, but we have also been missing her for most of the last three years. Give those hugs when the feeling rises – give them hard. Life and its length – these are uncertain things, unknown to us. So learn early not to waste a moment of it. I think you’re well on your way.

    • December 3, 2011 2:48 pm

      What a stunning tribute to someone who sounds like an incredible woman. I cried when I read this, Diana. I am so grateful for the families we are given – by genetics and by marriage. You have been so blessed. I pray for you all as you go through this difficult journey with your husband’s family – may the days be peaceful for all.

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