Sunday, February 14, 2016

So Many Firsts...

Valentine's Day brings up so many feelings and memories. As a single woman, it can be a somber day if I focus on the fact that I haven't found that one true love I always imagined I would've found by now. It's a perplexing search, but one I know God will guide me on in his divine timing. Instead today, I'm embracing all the love I have in my life and remembering the precious moments that it fills me with. Gratitude is not an adequate word for what I feel, so I'd rather leave some written breadcrumbs on what it all means to me.
There's nothing so pure and precious as the love for a child, and my brother and his wife have blessed me with two nephews that have been beacons of light over the past eight plus years. Ethan and Eli may someday read these words their YaYa has written and laugh at how much credit I give them for keeping me afloat as I've faced some pretty challenging years of health challenges. Only those who've witnessed it can know that these boys have given me more than a reason to fight when I may otherwise have given up, and there's nothing I wouldn't do for them. 
As my first nephew, I had no preview to the immense power of his presence, but looking down at Ethan not long after he was born, I felt a jolt of love that sparked me out of a darkness that I once thought would have no end. I could not love him enough; the love just flowed and flowed. And then our little Eli arrived. He was in his carrier on our dining room table when I first saw him. I remember walking up to this perfect little nugget of wonderment and feeling a shower of peace fall over me. Where Ethan has always had more of an electricity to him, Eli has had a serenity. They are well-balanced forces of nature that changed my life forever.
Then there are the memories of romantic love. My sophomore year of college at Miami, a friend (with a spark) invited me to a grab-a-date. That night was filled with magnetic looks and sweet verbal exchanges, charged touches and charming smiles. And by the end of the evening, there was a kiss that ended all other kisses for the next few years. On and off, he and I would date throughout college and beyond. So many first trips to new cities and first emotions. And to this day he remains one of my best friends. This day will always remind me of him.
We are all blessed, in different ways, with all kinds of love. Some more than others, and I recognize how much God has blessed me. I could write forever about my dear friends and family. My parents, whose love was the reason for me and for the best gift they ever gave me; my brother, Keith. No matter the directions our lives have taken, they have always come together to support me and nurture me when I could barely care for myself. I was never lacking in unconditional love. It's the glue that keeps me together.
Probably the true first is the love of a mother and child. My mom, who is my best friend, soul sister...beyond words.... has never stopped nurturing me. Our powerful connection became even more powerful when I was blessed to carry my son, Gabriel. I couldn't have imagined loving something so much. I felt like a goddess endowed with this miraculous being that was going to change life as I knew it. BEING a mother alongside my mother was perhaps the most enchanting time of my life, even if my mothering was only within me.

Love knew now boundaries. It's with love THAT powerful that allows us to feel true heartache. When I lost Gabriel in my sixth month of pregnancy, my heart was broken. And it just kept breaking, like a boulder thrown into a calm pond that rippled times infinity. While that ripple has never stopped, neither has the ripple of love. In fact, both were more like tidal waves. On days like today, it's the love that washes over me.

My heartache over Gabriel has only drawn me closer to my mom. Sitting next to her as I write this, I'm overwhelmed with the tremendous blessing that SHE is. We have a relationship that has no end. The relationship between a mother and child is never-ending and transcendent.  Just yesterday, I learned that one of my college roommates lost her mom, who was just 64. I didn't know Mrs. Ott well, but I DID know how close Gretchen was to her. They were best friends, just like my mom and I, and learning of her death has rattled me. My heart breaks for her loss, for the loss of her family, and I dedicate this blog post with love and prayers to their healing.
That's another first for me. It's my first friend to lose a parent, and it's made me realize how precious each moment is with everyone I love. We never know when that last hug is going to be. So whether you're single or married, take a moment to think of ALL the love in your life and marinate yourself in it. Valentine's Day isn't just about romance. It's about the divine emotion that God has blessed us all with the capacity to feel if we just open our hearts. May your heart be wide open today and everyday. And even in loss, may God's love nurture your hearts even when they're broken.