p.s. i love you

April 19th, 2011

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.

A toothbrush.

P.S. I love you.

Love Beyond Limits Workshop, Wash., DC, Sat., April 30
Beginner’s Mind One-Day Meditation Retreat, LA, Sun., June 12

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  1. Wakeful grace. Thank you for this.

    Comment by Jane — April 19, 2011 @ 6:28 pm

  2. xoxoxoxoxoxoxox

    Comment by Katie Murphy — April 19, 2011 @ 6:30 pm

  3. love this. so many thank yous. xoxoxox

    Comment by Katie Murphy — April 19, 2011 @ 7:39 pm

  4. I’ve been thinking about something for awhile, and this post is my tipping point: may I come see you, impose myself on your home life, for a night (or — gasp — two)? I’m feeling a powerful pull to take a road trip, and your neck of the woods feels right.

    No need to answer here or now. Just putting it out there for consideration.


    Comment by Kathryn — April 19, 2011 @ 7:57 pm

  5. So true…love is never what you think it is. After ten years of marriage, I see this clearly. So many friends and I have come to this. We share how love is not what we thought it would be. AND not what we think it SHOULD be. What did or do we think it would be? We have no idea, but certainly not this! Thank you for Hand Wash Cold. I have been comforted to find joy and truth in my most “typical” suburban life. Thank you 🙂

    Comment by Kelly — April 19, 2011 @ 8:55 pm

  6. Oh Kelly, “not this” is always this, isn’t it? I love you too. You can come to my house with Kathryn.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — April 19, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

  7. Love love love

    I too would like to come back to your home for a visit.

    Comment by Imelda — April 19, 2011 @ 9:30 pm

  8. Imelda, you have the key!

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — April 19, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

  9. …when we see how little we can do, and then do it anyway. That line really hooked me. Thank you for sharing this. P.S. Back at you!

    Comment by David Ashton — April 19, 2011 @ 10:57 pm

  10. This piece reminds me of your earlier words: “I believe in love. Not the love that is the enemy of hate, but the love that has no enemies…”


    Always good to be reminded! Thank you.

    Comment by WesternNovice — April 20, 2011 @ 12:02 am

  11. I’m still coming to terms with how my husband left last year. And still finding his things in this house.
    It wasn’t a toothbrush for me. It was his words. When he told me he was going, my first emotion was relief. I wanted to try to ‘make it work’ and being able to drop that burden was immense relief.

    and it was immediately obvious that it had been over for a very long time.

    Comment by kazari — April 20, 2011 @ 3:27 am

  12. Printing this…so true. Thank you.

    Comment by Deirdre — April 20, 2011 @ 6:24 am

  13. This is all right. all. right.
    Thank you. xo

    Comment by sweetsalty kate — April 20, 2011 @ 4:48 pm

  14. gracias. abrazos y amor. xo

    Comment by melissa — April 20, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

  15. Thanks for the love in the reply, Karen. Do you ever travel up to BC or Washington state? I would love to come to your home with Kathryn. Someday when the laundry is done…right now my practice is my garden. Let’s see how a little veggie patch goes this year. My darling daughter is four and has a devotional practice to worm observation. As you have taught me, that’s it right there. She’s direct in her instructions! I think I’m easing into this “staying” business. WHEW!

    Comment by Kelly — April 21, 2011 @ 7:21 pm

  16. hmmm. yes.

    “Il n’y a pas d’amour; il n’y a que des preuves d’amour”

    Comment by denise — April 22, 2011 @ 7:47 am

  17. Love you back. For this. For giving me my life back. For helping me to see. For keeping me in LA at least long enough to hear you speak at tomorrow’s service. Most of all – for showing me the path while letting me find my own way.

    Comment by Erica — April 22, 2011 @ 11:04 am

  18. at least daily I think of this and smile that you wrote it. of course you did. and i smile of the truths you tell me i’ve got right in my hands, over and over.

    Comment by Katie Murphy — April 23, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

  19. Love is nothing like I thought it would be, and everything that I wanted it to be. And I only knew it after it was all taken from me and there it was, true love left burning underneath it all. It doesn’t have a name, a word, or even a feeling I can put a description to. “The love that is a word is not love.” So, so true.

    Comment by Rachael — April 25, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

  20. Love is love,but love is tolerance, and tolerance is love

    Comment by Sandra — May 6, 2011 @ 3:14 pm

  21. […] love that stands, is.  The love that falls, isn’t.”  —Karen Maezen Miller, p.s. I love you  Cheerio Road, April 20, 2011 This post is part of a synchroblog on the topic: Life Unfurling:  […]

    Pingback by What is passed over is not love | Finding Ground — May 14, 2011 @ 7:14 am

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