Love? What is this thing called love? When I was young love confused me. I grew up in a broken home. My parents often used what they called love to be controlling of money and power. Love was not what they had towards their children for many years. That is why I lived with my grandparents. They truly had unconditional love for us. They sold their motel and moved across the country to take us in.
Through my Oma (German grandmother) I learned love could be giving a child a cup of warm tea and singing them to sleep.
Through my Opa (German grandfather) I learned love was biking to the store and buying a homeless man a doughnut.
After my father gained full custody of me at age seven things changed. I only saw my beloved grandparents over the summer, and I truly wished those summer months would never end. The love I saw was only seasonal. My parents at least my father and step-mother always said they loved us. But, it never came across the same way. Their love (or things they did for us kids) always had strings attached. Including simple things like food, if we did not do what they wanted we would not eat. The love and kindness were not infused into homemade meals anymore. Rather it was microwaved and shoved into our mouths.
As I grew older and went through intensive therapy I realized how I could love. It really hurts to love, to feel compassion for even strangers. The hardest thing for me was feeling compassion and sending love to my father when he was struggling for his life.
I was sixteen and suicidal. I sat by his bed and wrote, and wrote, and wrote. I wrote to him, even though he was in a coma. My letters were about how lovely life could be. Death seemed more real to me when it meant losing him. He may have been a strict imposing figure in my life, but he was the only one who was willing to attended therapy with me. He was the only one who understood the pain of depression. He was the only person who wrote to me. I found letters in my room, and in my backpack from him. Telling me I was meant to live.
I found this Ted talk about a women who delivered love letters when she was depressed. https://www.ted.com/talks/hannah_brencher_love_letters_to_strangers?language=en
It reminded me that love is not romantic. Love is compassion, empathy, mindfulness, and beauty. Love can be something we give to strangers. Hannah Brencher sends love all over the world to people in need of companionship. She makes the point that writing an email does not hold the same value as writing letters. With a letter much more intention is placed wording and the message. The message may take longer to arrive, but hold more value because of the added effort.
My friends, I ask you to be calm, write letters and send love to the world.