More Than Love

Ever had that look in your eye?

It’s a look made not of love alone.

It’s the reflection of a bond strengthened by truths confessed, “I-love-you-even-thoughs“, and the comfort of being held just as you are.

It’s pizza and wings and Netflix binges, then re-watching 3 episodes tomorrow because someone fell asleep last night.

It’s a look made brighter by impromptu slow-dances and inside jokes and “yea, you get me” moments.

It’s a union strengthened when two souls become one and two hearts create another. When magically there are two more tiny hands and ten more tiny toes, a head of hair that looks like dad’s and two bright eyes like mom’s.

It’s giving 100% and then giving fifty more when the other has nothing left to give.

It’s nights gone to bed angry and days spent silent, and grace and forgiveness and working it all out in the end.

It’s gratitude that gleams when pots and pans are clanking and garlic is sautéing and you’ve been dispatched to the couch with a glass of wine in hand.

It’s scaling life’s mountains together and backsliding every few feet because maybe someone forgot their hiking shoes (probably me). And pausing to take in all the breathtaking views along the way.

It’s being at your worst—unraveled, split open, spilling over, inside and out—and still being seen as The Best.

It’s a gaze intensified by the once too-close prospect of losing it all—in moments that rip the air from your lungs and the power from your grip, and shake the earth beneath your feet.

It’s a listening ear; a kiss on the head; and arms that hold and heal and steady.

It’s hands that help, that provide, that protect (from bad dreams and from giant fast-moving spiders).

This is a look made up of so much more than love. It’s longing and contentment. Trust and insecurity. Support and surrender. Laughter and tears.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s been too long since I’ve cast this look his way.

Some days I fear it looks more like annoyance; frustration; disapproval.

And I hate that. Because that’s not the love letter I want to tell with these eyes of mine. That’s not the true story that resounds in my heart.

But this look is a rooted one, often lodged deep within, woven into all of the memories and emotions and promises that make it up. And we have a tendency to live our day to day lives on the surface, wrapped up in responsibilities and task lists and too often fail to reach down and set it free.

But even though I sometimes forget to show it, I hope he never forgets to know it. I hope my words tell it and my actions reflect it.

I hope he remembers this look; I hope it’s a permanent fixture in the forefront of his mind as eternally as it’s been captured in this frame.

I hope he always feels it—that this love we have is a so-much-more-than-love kind of love.

My dear hyper-sensitive daughter,

I see it starting.

When I put your jacket on and your sleeve bunches up and you scream and shake your head.

When I walk away from you for a brief moment and your bottom lip curls under and tears well up in your eyes.

When the laughter of others around you makes you beam with joy and tiny giggles bubble up from inside you.

The way you dance giddily to techno music and stare, seriously and pursed-lipped, at the sound of sad, somber melodies.

The way your happiness can switch to a full-blown tantrum at (literally) the drop of a hat (or a toy).

Perhaps these super-charged emotions are fleeting and temporary.

But if this is a prediction of what’s in store for your big heart, my dear, I can already tell— you’re gonna let it all in.

I know, because you get it from me.

You’re gonna feel everything to the fullest extent, no holds barred. You’ll wear your heart on your sleeve. You’ll feel things deeply and you’ll take things—everything—to heart.

Childhood teasing will crush your spirit. High school bullies will almost break you.

You probably won’t take criticism well, even the constructive kind.

You’ll seek acceptance.

You’ll ball for days if you hit a squirrel with your car.

You’ll put yourself out there. Your thoughts, your feelings, your secrets. You’ll reach out for deep and meaningful connections with people who understand you, who’ve been where you’ve been, who can relate. And you’ll be devastated when those attempts are met with harshness or callousness or judgement.

And they will be. Because bullies don’t disappear when school’s out.

But my dear daughter,

this over-feeling trait you’ve got—it’s got its upsides too—ups that far outweigh the downs.

You’ll be a loyal friend and an empathetic stranger. You’ll be self-aware, or at least you’ll try your damnedest. You’ll be a listening ear and a helping hand. You’ll lift others up and fight against those who do the tearing-down.

You’ll keep your word and your commitments, because you’ll know the hurt of broken ones.

You’ll sob incessantly to cheesy, romantic movies, feel the pull of poetic, lyrical music deep in your soul, and have the fullest appreciation for art in all its forms.

I wish I could promise you you’ll never feel heartache—that you’ll never be emotionally bruised. But I can’t. I’m afraid it comes with this territory.

But I can promise I’ll do my best to arm you with the confidence and self-assurance you’ll need to combat the barrage of attacks on your ever-exposed heart.

And you’ll enter each battlefield standing tall, poised and ready to dual. You’ll fight a good fight and you’ll emerge—virtually unscathed on the outside—and inwardly wounded with a cut that will need healing, every single time.

But, my dear sweet girl, you won’t ever harden.