|Me as a toddler|
Daddy had a darkroom and enjoyed taking pictures and developing them himself. His family at this time consisted of the three of us, a nice little nuclear family during war time. I'm not even sure where we were living; since I was born at the end of 1942, World War II must be close to being over, and Daddy was certainly not gone, for this picture to have been taken. Norma Jean must be incubating, since she was born when I was two-and-a-half. I look to be about two.
I've been thinking about what remains from that time. Since I've read that the cells in our bodies are replaced every seven years or so (most of them, anyway, according to this article), what makes me still that little girl? I sure don't look anything like her now, and I have no recollection of what she was like back then. When I recall my childhood, most of what I remember is being loved, feeling safe and cherished. For that, I thank my parents. I wish I could have given such a childhood to my own son, but it was not to be.
Yesterday I finished reading a book about a couple of star-crossed lovers in the mid-1960s who were foiled in their attempts to get together by life circumstances. They truly loved one another and didn't know that the other was still alive. Forty years later they are reunited, in their late sixties by then, but still the same to each other. The book ended after their reunion, but my imagination had no difficulty filling in the rest. (The book is The Last Letter from Your Lover by JoJo Moyes.)
It makes me think about love, what it is and whether true love really does last forever. If that is true, then the love I received from my parents is part of my DNA, and the love I gave to my sons while they were alive is also still somewhere inside me. That is not to say that I don't still feel love for them, but it's different, laced with pain around the edges, so I don't allow myself to dwell there for long. It's funny; my parents are both gone, too, but when I think of them there is no pain, just gratitude for having had them as part of my life. That love is not gone, either.
But thinking back about other old loves, such as husbands and boyfriends who meant everything to me once upon a time, there are plenty of memories of good times and bad, but the love is rather one dimensional, not full and robust. I suspect it's because I've moved on and they are no longer part of my life today. My spouse of today, Smart Guy, has taken over that position in my heart and I guess there's no need for me to mourn the loss of any other. Must be the neurons in my brain only have room for one at a time. I wonder if that's a genetic trait that millennia spent in monogamous relationships (even if only serial monogamy) has facilitated.
But that's neither here nor there. What I'm trying to tease out of myself is what, exactly, remains when the object of love is no longer there? A phrase from my past just emerged from the fog: "the greatest of these is love." I find that it is a Bible phrase from 1 Corinthians: "So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." (How did I ever find anything before Google?) According to this, these three things continue without fading or being lost.
I know that when I am feeling love, great or small, I feel a bit like I am glowing with it. Being suffused with love is a great place to be, and if I could figure out how to be there all the time, I would. But of course life is filled with ups and downs, peaks and valleys, and I guess, thinking a little more about it, I would probably stop noticing it if it were always there, like the invisible air I breathe every moment. No, it's better to have a few valleys where I'm not feeling the love so that I can be aware of it when it's surrounding me.
After this Sunday morning ponder, I sit here with my laptop, tea gone and partner still asleep, and I feel the love. I've got a good day planned, an outing with my friend Judy, and perhaps a bit of time outside in the garden, and the ability to stride out into my day with a full heart. I can only wish the same for you, my dear reader, and hope that your day is filled with love.