The People That We Love

Unconditional is the kind of love that hurts the most. It’s the kind of love that’s underrated, annoying, smothering, difficult to live with everyday and taken for granted. T.S. Eliot once wrote, “This love is silent.” I like to think he was talking about the kind of love that sometimes takes the most to be seen, because it’s just so blatantly obvious, people forget it’s there. Again, it’s taken for granted.

Unconditional love hurts the most, because there’s hardly ever a choice, but to heed it. It stays, even after that person has gone away, it stays, even after the worst fights, it stays, even when there’s absolutely no reason that it should do so. It is stubborn like that.

It can be like a bad tattoo, poorly done or hastily chosen on a whim, to be displayed forever in your heart. No laser will ever be able to erase it completely.

Unconditional is the kind of love that doesn’t need a reason. It is simply there. Maybe it was born out of dreams and expectations, or maybe out of some need, to fill some gap in your own life. Maybe it is the one, true form of love at first sight. Either way, it’s like a safety net, silently spread below that person, just waiting patiently, looking out, watching for that moment when her arms can’t reach and she falls, catching her, even as she struggles, and breaking her fall.

It hurts, because, where in most cases there is a thin line between love and hate, unconditional love is so accepting that it learned to live with it. When all the other kinds of love go away, give up and make way to hate and anger, unconditional love is willing to sit with it, and lend it a friendly ear. While all the other loves eventually let go in the face of the impossible, giving space to healing, this love remains. While the wounds of other loves hurt, but eventually close and fade away, this one leaves behind a scar.

It doesn’t stop hurting. There will always be that reminder; whenever you think of the scar you will remember the pain.

There’s no vocabulary

For love within a family, love that’s lived in

But not looked at, love within the light of which

All else is seen, the love within which

All other love finds speech.

This love is silent.

(T.S. Eliot)

I never really realised, until now, that it could be applied to siblings as well.

To me, it’s the kind of love the grown ups set up, like blankets on the grass, for their children to play in. It’s what they do. They provide a safe environment, filled with a love that will enable them to feel safe enough to be themselves, a love that will help them grow up into confident people. This silent love is an environment, within the light of which all else is seen because it provides the place, like the earth, for everything else to grow.

There, they’re safe. There, they’re allowed to make mistakes, however many they need in order to learn. Because they will go on being loved. So the grown ups watch as they discover the world from that safe place. They sit back and watch as other kinds of love germinate there. Friends are made, lovers are found, passions are discovered. They express themselves in the silence of this love.

Those were the people who loved you before you were even born.

Unconditional love is a bittersweet bliss. I realized this overthinking whether or not I should give my big brother a gift for his birthday and for Christmas. We don’t speak to each other. I pretend he’s not there because it’s simply impossible for me to get along with him. So I was terrified that I’d give him his gift and he’d give it right back to me, saying he doesn’ want it. But two nights before his birthday, it suddenly hit me that I’d be devastated if something were to happen to him. So today I realized this, that no matter what, I’ll love him and that’s it. It’s not going anywhere, so I might as well get used to it.

And now there’s this surprising calm that I never expected to feel, that I couldn’t imagine was there, buried beneath this war of conflicting emotions. Now that I’ve surrendered, I suddenly feel lighter. I think of my parents, cousins, uncle and aunts, and now I realize  – for the first time – what it’s like to be on the other side of this love within the light of which all else is seen.


~ by 1cellinthesea on December 27, 2011.

One Response to “The People That We Love”

  1. Beautifully written.

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