Two years ago, I watched my husband make one of the hardest decisions of his life. Say goodbye to his best friend, in favor of giving her relief from her ailing body. It was a decision that wrecked him over a period of weeks, as he sat and waited for someone else to make it so he didn’t have to. When it finally came down to it, he knew what was right all along; it just wasn’t what he wanted to hear.
So we laid our pup to rest. We sat in the hard season of grief. We looked long and hard for the silver lining that holiday season. Weeks passed. Months passed. It didn’t show up.
Now, we’re parents to an 8-month-old baby boy, and he loves to climb the step in our family room. Like Grace, he slides on the wood floor on all fours, moving faster than he should. Like Grace, his whole face lights up when James walks in the room. He loves his dada more than anything in the world.
That’s our story now. We get to give this boy all the love in the world. I get to hold him on one hip and point at the picture of the silly little curly-haired dog licking his mama’s face. I get to show him that someone, somewhere, a long time ago, knew just how special she was to have his dada and I as parents.
These last two years have taught me a lot about love.
Love is simultaneously seeing a moment for all that it is and all that it could have been.
Love is making hard decisions when no one else can, when you are the one for the job.
Love is taking risks even after heartbreak.
Love is the small moment at the end of the long day. The tickles and giggles when it’s supposed to be bedtime. The extra forehead kiss. The one last goodnight.
Love is passing along the magic of simple pleasures. Pointing to Christmas lights on the trees. Laughing at the little ducks’ rainboots in the video. Riding on top of dada’s shoulders.
Love is rising before the sun because being awake is that much better with the other person in your life.
Love is all of that and all the things you don’t even realize you’re doing unless you step outside yourself and watch.
It’s all the things you’ll someday do without even planning on it.
It’s looking forward to everything you have yet to pass along, all the times your child doesn’t yet know they’ll come to cherish, but you do. That’s love.