Okay, I know, it’s a Paul McCartney & Wings song…but still, it gets the point across.
Just over two years ago I lost my wife. In the days, weeks, months, hell years since I have noticed something that initially drove me crazy.
We are, seriously, a society based in and obsessed with love.
Most of the time, I guarantee it, you never see or think about it. You go through your daily life flooded with visions, sounds and thoughts of love. Movies – almost every single one, whether it’s a horror movie or a comedy – have a love story somewhere in the theme. The American Film Institute has a list of “the 100 Greatest Love Stories.” Search their site for movies with “love” in the title there’s almost 1,000 – and the film industry is only about a century old. That’s at least 10 movies a year with it just in the title.
You might hear it in music, from heavy metal to acoustic hipster songs to Ella Fitzgerald belting out melodies. The Beatles alone had close to 70 songs that dealt with love (that’s a rough estimate, no emails, please!)
Some people notice just how much. You can group us into categories: those who just had a breakup; those who love someone and either a) it’s not mutual or b) they can’t bring themselves to tell that person; and last…those who have lost someone. I have the unfortunate happenstance of having fallen into all those categories in my life.
I’m guilty of creating the same kinds of content. I write stories all the time, even here, and love is the general theme, is it not? Love of a spouse, love of your kids.
But if you have lost your wife or broken up with your boyfriend or opine the unrequited love of another everywhere you turn is a reminder of love. The one thing that has our brains wired so differently than the animals that live in the world around us is the emotional connection we feel toward others. That’s no small thing, believe it or not. Sure, you can talk pheromones or chemical attractions or dopamine or norepinephrine or whatever in your brain. The fact remains that we still feel like our hearts are going to leap out of our chests when we see or speak with the woman we love or our kids come down the escalator at the airport after visiting their grandparents. We feel like we’re bleeding internally when they die. But if you don’t have that, or lost it, you are overwhelmed by it and reminded that you don’t have it. So when those around us feel the need to express sympathy for that or, worse, feel the need to help (notice the italics?) those who don’t have it, they don’t see what they’re inflicting sometimes.
I haven’t gotten a lot, but I get the push to “meet my friend” or “I know this person” or if you even mention you know a woman outside work you get “oooooohhhhhhh! A girl?!” Some of it is the need to make sure people are happy. That makes you happy and if they’re unhappy…you don’t want to be unhappy. I think a lot of it is to make yourself feel better so that you don’t feel sad when you see the person who’s lost their love or their Mom or whatever.
But I both understand and feel love’s pull. Love from the past pulls you backward. Want of love in the future pulls you ahead. Love of your kids grounds you in the present. It was really, really, hard those first couple years to live with it swirling all around you. You miss all kinds of things . . . you miss talking and emotion . . . but don’t mistake missing it for just throwing yourself into the pool all over again. I certainly miss Andrea, I always will. I also miss the little things, like how she put her hand on the back of my head or held my hand when we drove in the car. But I don’t jump into relationships lightly and won’t date someone just because I miss a touch or a smell or a feel.
But before you see your friend in their breakup or your sister who lost her husband or what have you, are you meddling to help, or to make yourself feel better? Do you push or prod when you’re certain they’re ready? I’ve been climbing that hill for a couple years now and I still don’t know if I’m really ready.
Still . . . where things were hard and the world swirled around you filled with love, love stories, love songs, all of it is there and initially that was really gut-wrenching.
Now, I see that some people want to fill the world with silly love songs.
“And what’s wrong with that? I’d like to know…”