One Year Later... Love Looks Different
If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Instagram, you’d know that I recently went on a two-week vacation to visit my mom and throw her a one-year party. It was such a lovely time that was filled with some amazing lessons and insight.
A little over a year ago, my mom was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. We learned that it was a very large brain aneurysm (in the top three largest that her doctor had ever seen). I think the hardest part about having a loved one diagnosed with something life threatening, is all the hard conversations you have to have and you have to have immediately. Questions starting with, “if I die…” or “if things go wrong…” The best and worst part was hearing her constantly tell me that she loves me, but with that weight of knowing that "this might be the last words you ever hear come out of my mouth.” In the couple of weeks leading up to her surgery, we learned the two most important things to her: that if we learned nothing else from her life, that we should know that she loved us. Second, her prayer was that God would use this to bring her family to Jesus.
I think the biggest change in myself in the last year is simply noticing that love looks different. She would go on to have brain surgery. She would wake up that night not knowing who my dad was or who her mom was. I learned a lot about love from my dad. The way that he would take her hand and hold it for hours on in, just so she wouldn’t feel alone or as frightened. The way that he wouldn’t even take care of himself (to the point of throwing up at Home Depot) just so that he could prepare their home for when she came home. The way that he broke down at the reality that she wouldn’t be coming home for a long while (almost two months) and that it just wasn’t possible for someone to be with her around the clock— all because he always wanted someone familiar to always be around her.
I remember watching all of this and thinking that my mom had been wrong for all of those years. My dad was romantic. He’s not the sort of romantic that remembers birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc. But he’s steadfast, faithful, and unwaveringly devoted to her. Isn’t that more romantic than chocolates and flowers? My mom had expected (all their married life) for those gifts that showed he was thinking of her, but in her time of need and in this time that we all prayed for a miracle, he gave her those beautiful gifts. They might not have been chocolates or flowers, but the vomit (while gross) showed more love than chocolates and flowers ever could. The tears that fell from his face showed more love than a surprise vacation. When he held her hand for hours on in, it showed more love than remembering a thousand birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. Love showed through sacrifice.
A few weeks ago, we got the pleasure and privilege of throwing my mom a one-year party. We got the joy of laughter while we took silly family photos for her wall. And you know what, romance was alive and well! My mom’s life looks radically different than it did, even two years ago. Brain surgery and all the complications changed her. But you know what hasn’t changed? My dad’s devotion to her. My dad’s love for her. The way that my dad still holds her hand out of love and also for her safety. The way that my dad looks for ways for my mom to be independent. The way that my dad tries to make my mom happy, no matter the sacrifice.
Love looks different. Romance looks different.
This last year has been a shock. Not because of all the changes that have taken place, but simply being able to see a love that so reflects the Father’s love for us. Watching my dad love my mom in this last year has shown me what God’s love looks like. It has redefined love (and romance). Love is sacrifice. Love is gentleness. Love is patience. Love is painful but worth it. Love is steadfast and faithful. Love is kindness in the midst of frustration. Love is found in the worry, in the unknown, in every prayer for a miracle, and in the midst of beeping machines in hospital rooms. Love is found in anger when we feel our loved one isn’t being cared for well enough. Love is found in preparing homes for the changes. Love is found in families who come together to make sure everyone is being taken care of. Love is found in late night homemade meals. Love is found in exhaustion. Love is found in laughter and tears. Love is found in the simple touch of holding one’s hand.