For most people, the difference between being listened to and being loved is indiscernible.
You have searched me and known me
When I was little, I collected colonies of orange and black caterpillars and hid them under the blue spruce tree in our backyard. I carried a book under my arm while climbing high into hazelnut trees to read with the birds. I lured 4H pigs, with literary names, into trailers using giant candy canes (leftover from the Christmas pageant). I jotted mundane observations in a black composition notebook while watching the neighbors, pretending to be Harriet the Spy.
I am excellent at thinking on my feet.
I make a mean pan of enchiladas, especially if someone just had a baby.
I’ve never gotten the hang of keeping in touch with old friends or remembering to dust my house.
I have hiked in the Andes mountains, the French Alps, the Pyrenees, the Rockies, and the Cascades.
I love the smell of the dryer, because it is warm and snuggly and it reminds me of doing laundry in college with a dorm full of girlfriends.
I spent weeks walking across the country of Spain one summer, tending to my feet and my heart.
The freckle on my right ring toe is my favorite feature that doesn’t get enough recognition.
I still can’t drive a stick shift.
I am Adam’s wife, Declan and Maeve’s mom, and Lonny and Ellery’s eldest daughter.
I love Declan, because I know the way the twirls his cowlick when he is sleepy. I know the way he hugs differently when its a “hold you hug” versus a “big squeeze.” I know that he calls pineapple “pinecorn.” I know that he is saying, “I love you,” when he says, “So much, Mommy!”
I love Maeve, because I know that she smells like a puppy when she needs a bath. I know the way she smiles when I blow raspberries on her tummy. I know the way she moves her head side to side when she is ready to nurse. I know she is saying, “I love you,” when she falls asleep in my arms.
I love Adam, because I know how he sits when he wants me to scratch his back. I know the way he laughs when something hits him as actually funny. I know that he slips extra chocolate chips to Declan when they are making pancakes. I know he is saying, “I love you,” with everything he does every second of every day.
There is nothing generic about a human life. There is no life in general. God may be universal, but I am not.
To love someone is to know them in all their particularities. What is something specific and particular about you? What is something specific and particular you love about someone in your life?
Much of this essay was inspired by chapter 7 in Kate Bowler’s book, “Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved.” I highly recommend reading it.