Friday, May 7, 2010
The idea of unconditional love has always felt like an ideal not matched by reality. The love from my parents, for example, seemed conditional: if I behaved well I got more love, and if I was troublesome I got less love and more distance. I held out hope that there was some perfect balance between who I was and what they expected which would yield the ultimate prize: unconditional love. To be loved totally, and to know my heart was always safe.
This morning, Craig brought me my tea. A sliver of sun sneaking through the drapes illuminated the milky, pearly surface. I smiled before a single thought of the day arrived, before the list making started, before the girls started grabbing at me. I smiled about the tea, but what was touching me heart and making me smile was the gesture behind the tea.
Craig and I fight and argue and sometimes we do not communicate. We both have whole teams of emotional masons who build stone walls in an instant. The saying about not going to bed mad would never work with us. Our anger is not huge, it does not take up all the room in the house, but it is slow. Sometimes it takes us days or weeks to really move through something difficult together. Especially if it involves one of us acknowledging we are wrong about something. Then it can really take ages. We have found ways of living while in the midst of a hard moment. We still hug and kiss goodbye, we still say "I love you," we still have wonderful suppers together, we still treat each other with kindness.
And that is the tea: kindness. Craig's cup of tea in the morning, and he doesn't even drink tea, is our version of not going to bed mad. We make some small promise to each other over this first exchange of the morning. A promise of civility not born of repressed feelings but born of remembering our love first. And maybe that is unconditional love: in difficult conditions, I still love you.