It was the toothbrush that told me. Alone and overlooked in the emptied medicine chest, it was one of the few things my lover had left behind. When I found it, I knew with certainty what I’d been denying to myself for some time.
It was over.
In truth, our relationship had been over for longer than I’d wanted to believe, but in beginnings and endings, one party can lag the other on the uptake. If the toothbrush was my messenger, what was his? Perhaps the time I kicked his suitcase to the curb? For years after, I would forget that part in the telling of the story, since we tell stories our own way.
Whether by choice or circumstance, by the fleet seasons of romance or the final curtain of death, love ends. At least the love that is a story ends. And when that happens, what are we left with? A passage we might otherwise never dare to take. A portal through denial, disbelief and despair, through rage and madness, beyond delusive fairytales and melodrama, into a state of wakeful grace that can only be called true love.
True love is what is left behind when love leaves. It only looks like the end. Make it through one ending, and you might change your mind about all endings. That is the miracle cure, the ultimate healing, left behind on an empty shelf.
Someone asked me to write an article about love. Specifically, about the ending of love, because nobody needs help with the beginning of love.
So I’ve been thinking about love, and here are some of the things I’ve been thinking. Thinking about love is the opposite of love, because love is never what you think.
Love is what you don’t think. Sometimes, love is what you don’t feel. Love is life, no matter what you think or feel about it.
You will not take my word for this, because there are no words for this. The love that is a word is not love.
The love that stands is love. The love that falls, isn’t.
Love is immensely big. Love is immensely small. Love is immensely big and small at the same time. Love is time.
Love is when we see how little we can do, and then do it anyway.
Love is a labor. Love is all labors. Love is all efforts. And it is effortless.
Before anything comes, and after everything leaves, love is.
P.S. I love you.