I wrote this with February in mind. You know… Valentine’s Day… red and pink hearts everywhere. Love is in the air…. But today is Thanksgiving… and I realized that the thing I am most grateful for is love. In all of its forms.
I don’t know that I know how to love well. I try. I know I fail a lot. But I can tell you beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am loved well. I don’t know what that looks like for everyone. But here’s a glimpse of what it has looked like for me. This list is by no means all inclusive. There’s so much more, more than I could ever write. But it has looked like taking care of day-to-day things for my family when I can’t be there. It has looked like sitting at a laundromat with me and washing what seemed like enough laundry to go back to the days of Moses. It has looked like cleaning and organizing my mom and aunt’s apartment while my mom was in the hospital. It has looked like sending flowers and cards and chocolates to my family even when you’ve never met them. It has looked like clearing your calendar to come sit with me and just be with me and hold my hand in the days and weeks after my mom died. It has looked like sending cards and care packages to my aunt to let her know you’re thinking of her as she undergoes yet more chemo. It has looked like willingness to drop everything and come be with me or at a minimum send things or make arrangements to take care of anything I needed as I was swallowed up in grief. It has looked like countless prayers, handwritten notes, and handmade cards, and road trip lunch dates. It has looked like cooking meals for your husband’s ex-wife’s sister. It has looked like being willing to help your ex-wife’s sister with whatever she needs. It has looked like offering to help your ex-wife and her sister so your daughter wouldn’t worry so much. It has looked like a new car so I can travel safely to take care of whatever it is that needs taken care of. And it has looked like supporting me while I try to take care of those things. It has looked like loving me through panic attacks and anxiety. Sometimes relentless, aggravating, making you beat your head on the wall anxiety. For me and people dealing with me. It has looked like sitting with me after my aunt’s chemo while I’m freaking out and worried. It has looked like hiding pain, and nausea, and cancer fears. It has looked like showing up in a T-Rex costume for breakfast at our favorite breakfast spot. It has looked showering me with forgiveness and grace when I act like an a**. It has looked like bringing Johnstown to my wedding because you can take the girl out of Johnstown but you can't take Johnstown out of the girl. It has looked like texting and checking in any time there is bad weather in my area, just to make sure I am ok. It has looked like text messages when you know it's been a hard week or a hard day just to let me know you are there. It has looked like Sunday family dinners, coffee dates, phone calls. It has looked like being adopted into families that I have known since I was a child, a teenager, a young adult, and even an adult, and being included in those families for weddings, graduations, anniversaries, family vacations and holidays. It has looked like trusting me with your children, knowing that I'll love them like my own. It has looked like wagging tails, and pup kisses. It has looked like driving north in the middle of winter in the snow, when you hate winter, but don't want me to travel by myself. It has looked like card game tournaments. It has looked like having the coffee ready and waiting when I come to visit. It has looked like packing my lunch when I am in town for work. It has looked like late night phone calls after bad break ups. It has looked like showering all of us with gifts or little prizes even when you couldn’t afford it. It has looked like calling me every hour on drives to PA and back to GA to find out where I am and to check on me. It has looked like going along on photo shoots just to spend the day with me. It has looked like encouraging me to follow my dreams and passions. It has looked like supporting my decision to be an entrepreneur and small business owner, and encouraging me all along the way. It has looked like hanging my art work on the walls. It has looked like watching out the door as I drive away. It has looked like loving me like your own daughter. It has looked like sharing your son with me and knowing that we just fit. It has looked like loving me enough to tell me hard truths that aren’t easy to hear. It has looked like demanding that I be the best version of myself that I can be. It has looked like choosing to spend the rest of your life with me even when I drive you crazy. It has looked like being nailed on a cross and dying for me. This list…. It doesn’t even come close to covering all the ways I have been loved throughout my life. I can’t even see the screen now because I am crying as I think about all the ways I am blessed. My family. my husband.. oh how I love them. Even when we disagree, even when it seems like we are disconnected from each other. My friends… oh how I know God has surely blessed me. And of course, Jesus. How I hope I am learning to love Him and to love like Him.
Sometimes, the pictures I capture…. They aren’t of people. Or of beautiful places or things. Sometimes they are just random things, that wouldn’t mean anything to anyone else. These are a few that capture what love looks like to me: