Thursday, January 5, 2017

      As mentioned in yesterday’s essay about “Collateral Beauty,” the film in which Will Smith writes a letter to Love, Death and Time, I continue this thread with a letter to Love.

Dear Love:

      You have been a constant in my life, although at times you have left me. When you did, I cried for long periods of time, depending on whose voice you were. If you were my school boyfriend’s voice, I cried for days. I had no idea the tiny speck of importance you would have in my life; however, you were teaching me things I didn’t realize at the time. You were teaching me the laws of rejection, cruelty, humility and resilience. Jerry Leggett, you figured it out when you tried to come back, but it was too late. I guess you learned a lesson too. 

      The love voices during my college years were those of suitors who also taught me that it wasn’t my sparkling personality or my type A temperament that was attractive, and alcohol turned a normal date into a Hollywood drama in my naive head. I learned that there were love voices who would stick by my side to comfort me and then there were two-faced fake-love voices who would abandon me when I needed them most. 

      When I got married, I believed in the Cinderella love story. Unfortunately, the shoe didn’t fit after all, and the love voice got all confusing and ultimately devastating. I learned from that voice too, however. I learned to make decisions I never thought I could. I learned that I could work four jobs and  send two daughters to college. I learned that I could buy my own house and take care of all my domestic needs without a husband. I learned that I could live alone and be relatively content despite the romantic hole left from the trauma of a broken family. I learned that distracting the mind and using the body physically to heal were tools that would serve me the rest of my life. I learned that some friends would stand by and others would disappear. Despite the pain of that reality, it showed me what a true friend should be. I learned that strangers were good listeners, and therapy was for the strong, not the weak. 

     The eight years I spent alone were sometimes lonely, but I always had a love voice in my life. It was either a child, a friend, Mother Nature or my father. My father was the true love voice—the constant in my life. Throughout the years, even when I went temporarily crazy, he never judged, never said, “I told you so,” and he never stopped loving me—actually, for the first time, unconditionally. I didn’t have to do anything to earn his love. All I had to do was just be. When I thought I was going to lose it, he was there—-not saying that much, just being there. 

      Now all these years later, some love voices are in heaven. Some love voices snore in my bed. Some love voices sing little songs on facetime. Some love voices cheer me on when I walk on stage or hold my hand across the miles.Some show up in my garage or in a box on my doorstep. Some love voices carry me when I can’t put my feet in the sand. The most important and loyal love voice, however, is my own. It says, “You’re enough.”