The elasticity of the heart

I’m on a plane, heading home from Minnesota, where I’ve dropped my daughter off for her freshman year of college. I see a few little babies on the plane, and want to grab their parents and shout, “Hold on, it goes way, way fast!”

I just spent the last two days with my daughter, on our trip out to her school. Needless to say, it was an amazing time. A bit tense, as we both waited for “the big goodbye,” but amazing nonetheless. Full of laughter, closeness, apprehension, conversation, and love. Wednesday night, as we sat in our hotel room wasting time until “the big goodbye” the next day, she, as she often does, said, “let’s talk.” And then proceeded to tell me to ask her questions so that she could answer them. And I did. It was great. I learned so much more about her.

One question I asked her: what is your favorite thing about yourself? I won’t share her answer here – it’s between the two of us and not mine to share. And anyway, the next day she said it may shift on a daily basis. But I loved to hear it. And while she didn’t ask me my favorite thing about myself, as she still looked to me for topics of conversation I told her mine anyway. That answer I can share here. For today, at least, I think it’s how much I love and my ability to love.

It amazes me the heart’s capacity to love. Or at least my heart’s capacity to love. And to grow and stretch in order to love more. Just when you think there’s no way to have more love in your life, that you’ve reached the limit, somehow something strikes you, or someone starts to matter to you, or you realize how much they matter to you. And you notice that your love has grown.

There are different kinds of love and obviously, a mother’s love for her child is the one most on my mind right now. It is a boundless love that is indescribable. Why do you love them so much, from the minute they’re born? I simply don’t know, but you do. They’re a tiny, helpless being, maybe lying on the middle of your bed, and as you stare at them you realize you’d throw yourself in front of a moving train, or a attacking animal, to save and protect them. Not that there is a moving train or an attacking animal in your bedroom, but if there was, nothing could stop you from saving your child. Then they grow to become their own person and you get to learn about them, to support and guide them, to watch them with fascination and wonder and joy. To take them off to college and spend two wonderful, albeit slightly anxious, days finding out more about the way they think and what matters to them.

There are friends you love – from the present and the past. Family. Strangers who become family. People who meant something to you once upon a time, or mean something to you now. The neighbors who check in on you as you leave your daughter in a far-away state. The brother who simply texts you “I love you” every day as you leave your daughter in a far-away state. The people you haven’t spoken to in years, and yet who hold a place in your life and thoughts. And the heart expands to take them all in. To love each one uniquely, clearly some more than others. Maybe there should be different words to describe the different kinds of love, but love is the only word I know.

I am lucky enough to love very many people, and to have very many wonderful people in my life. I am lucky to experience the earth-moving strength of a mother’s love. I am lucky that my heart keeps stretching – beyond my imagination – to love my husband, my children, my family, and my friends more. I think love is a good thing.

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2 thoughts on “The elasticity of the heart

  1. Add me to the list of those who love you, Lisa.
    You must be SO proud of your big girl! And isn’t she lucky to have two excellent parents..
    You are, as we say, a power of example!
    I send you hugs and kisses xoxoxoxoxo Jennifer

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