Guest post: A Love Letter - of Sorts

The following letter was emailed to me from Megan's mom Liz. Ever since my daughter’s new friend asked people to write a love letter to someone in their life to be posted to her blog and my daughter suggested that I do it, I have been perplexed over to whom I would write this letter and also, in a much broader sense, what really is love. If you can’t define it, how can your write about it?

Now if you had asked me as a young or middle aged woman I could have told you exactly what love was and defined it in no uncertain terms. Then again, up til about fifty-five (55) I was sure I knew exactly about a lot of things and could unequivocally explain them whenever the occasion arose. I was so sure of so many things. Now, at the age of 64 and fast approaching 65, I have found that I am unsure of most things. The irony of this is … it doesn’t seem to really matter. In fact, being ambivalent, unsure and sometimes totally clueless seems to be rather a natural way of being. Isn’t knowing "nothing" the way of Zen?

So, to whom do I write this love letter? There are so many in my life, past and present who I have felt a deep care and concern for and who have added immeasurable happiness, contentment and joy to my life.

Do I write to one of my daughters; each one of whom embodies everything promising and admirable in young and growing women. They are joyful, fun, intelligent, and provocative in their thinking and, in many ways, I still can find the little girls in them that made my life so meaningful as they were growing up. Being their mother has always been a privilege for me and a rather awesome experience. By the way, I plan to continue being their Mother even when they chaff against me being so. There is definitely a love letter here.

Do I write this letter to my parents, both now deceased, who created a safe, secure and loving environment in which I was able to grow up (with the appropriate craziness for an Italian family on my mother’s side off-set by a quiet demeanor of my Spanish father)? They were always there, somehow always showing up if and when you needed them. Even well into my adult life when I was fifty-seven (57) my then eighty-eight (88) year old Dad drove five hours over the mountains by himself to spend Christmas at my house because he felt “the girls and I may need him” to be there since it was the first Christmas we would spend without their Dad who had left months earlier. Yes, there is a love letter here.

But, who do I write this love letter to? Do I write it to the man with whom I shared the majority of my life? From the age of 18 to the age of 57 this man was a constant in my life. Then I could say how love was suppose to look….I knew unequivocally that through all the tough times that LOVE would prevail and underneath all the problems, the heartaches, the betrayals, that there was something so deep that it could not be diminished. So, was that really love? What is odd or maybe not so odd, that after being with this man for forty (40) years and now being without this man for nine (9) years; after the sadness, the hurt, the disappointment, the anger, the shock there is still something that makes me not hate this person nor love this person in the way I once defined love. Instead there remains a regrettable feeling and sadness to know that we could not be happy together. Is there a love here or is it something different, something I can not yet describe? This, in itself, brings up an even bigger question! If you loved someone once can you stop loving them? Truly just stop loving them? Somehow I don’t think that you can reverse loving someone. Once you have loved them, the love remains….perhaps tempered, perhaps different, perhaps without such fervor or without the unrealistic hopes and dreams that we attach to the word love. But then, if it is truly gone (that feeling of love, whatever it is) perhaps it was never really there. There is a letter here, not sure if it is a love letter.

Who? Do I write this letter to so many totally kind, generous and committed friends who have shared my joys and my heartbreaks without judgment and with reservation. I have been most blessed in this area of my life. Do I write this letter to my sister who is so much more than a sister to me? She is a friend, a buddy, a role-model who also turns to me for help and support. She is a remarkable hiking, biking Grandma pedaling up the high mountains of Colorado who has for years has been my hero. Yes, there are many love letters here.

So, who do I write this love letter to? Is it all the wonderful animals that have graced my life? To the warm little wiggly bodies of my dogs over the years from my Star, Star 2 (collies) to Angus, Bonnie, McNeil and Angel (Westies and Scotties) and my beloved Chloe (my soul greyhound), Lakota and now Shyla. They have given me so much love, attention, support and pure joy in my lifetime. Do I write the letter to the wonderful warm, sometimes smelly, 1200 pounds of horseflesh that have given me the opportunity to be my total complete self as we cantered through the fields, who have been my constant and unending friends since I was a teenager. They (Sundance, Champion, Silly, Don’t Pretend and, my dream horse, Hellas who has been with me unfaltering for 18 years) have never let me down (well, they dumped me more than a few times but it was nothing personal) and have always there, never judging, never questioning and always nickering. Yes, there is definitely a love letter here.

So, perhaps I write this love letter to the quirky, fun-loving, caring and gentle-hearted man with whom I now share my life? How lucky am I to have found someone who is so easy-going and generous of heart and spirit, who makes me laugh more times in a day than I use to laugh in a week, who makes me feel like a woman always, who holds my hand even as I fall asleep, who never complains and who walks my dog, shovels out my horse’s stall, cuts up boxes and builds things with my grandkids and shows me each day how to “fall through life”. Actually we don’t use a word as loaded as love in this relationship so I really could not write a Love letter it would have to be a “Like” letter. So, yet another question. Is it more important to hear these words or see them in action on a daily basis? Is it more important to be treated and to be allowed to treat another in a respectful, joyful, caring and loving manner or hear the words? One thing for certain…there is most definitely a Love/Like letter here.

So, here is my dilemma. How do I write a love letter to only one person when my life has been touched by so many, in so many different ways? How do I choose and what really is love? Perhaps it is something that you don’t define. Maybe the lesson I learned first, from my Father and now from the man with whom I share my life, is that you don’t have to define it, you just have to live it in whatever way you know to live it, even if the other person can’t return it to you. As my hairdresser says, “It is all good! Share the love” whatever and whoever it is to you.

Liz Ribas