When Max was much younger, he asked me if he should go for it and let the girl he had a crush on know how he felt about her. I told him, yes, do it. Be bold. Tell her how you feel. He did.
After he had spilled his heart out to her and she had rejected him, he said to me, “Mom, I can never trust you again about relationships. You gave me bad advice. I have to be sure that someone loves me before I say that I love her.” Oh, if only. If only we didn’t have to shipwreck our hearts to get the answer to love me, love me not.
Not too long ago, my uncle called me from Hawaii. He lives alone and waits for his home health worker to show up so he has someone to talk to. He said to me, “I am thinking about getting a cat. But I want something that won’t die before I do.” I said to him, “Uncle, maybe you should get a bird. They live a long time and they will talk to you.” He said, “I will think about this. But maybe a dog.” I get it. We all want someone we can share our time with – who loves us unconditionally, who is always happy to see us.
Sometimes, we get lonely and stuck. There are so many reasons we can give to stay hurt or depressed. There are so many reasons we can give to be angry at someone or something else. There are so many reasons to stand behind fear and pain. But there are so many reasons not to.
Maybe we are all just pilgrims here, on a path none of us have the final compass points for, walking together in the hope of finding our happily ever afters. Maybe once we could have settled for being perceptively fragile and fucked and fermented in a vat of “I told you so’s” and regret. We are better than this, I think. We all have the capacity to be strong and kind and good. To do otherwise is to give up. I don’t think we are built to give up, and especially not to give up on love. I think we are made for love. After all, we are all in this together.
There are two words I am working to integrate into my vocabulary more. They are not common words in my line of work. But what the hell. I’m going to try. They are “I believe.” I believe. I believe in love. I believe that even a shipwrecked heart can make its way back home. I believe that the best hearts are those that have been wrecked and yet remain open to make their way back out to sea again, to try again. And again. And again.
Don’t give up. Don’t give up, uncle. Don’t give up, Max. Don’t give up, you. Take the chance. Put your heart out to sea again. And don’t ever, give up on love.