Even in the most idyllic dream world, the love of your life will have to wake up every morning and leave you. They’ll go to work, run errands, have drinks with their friends… all without you. But you’ll never feel like you don’t have them. You won’t wonder whether or not they’ll come back. Their absence will be irrelevant; you know they’re with you, even when you can’t see them or touch them or speak to them.
It doesn’t matter if it’s tonight at 5 p.m. or next year or in the next lifetime, real love is the promise that you will always return home – or maybe that you never really left in the first place. That you’re never without them more than you’re without someone who runs to pick up milk from the store.
We have a way of carrying the people we love, a way of considering their opinions and seeing things the way they would and ourselves the way we hope they do. The most vibrant and meaningful parts of our lives are not what surround our bodies but how our minds piece together and create sense and meaning of those things. And the realities we create most palpably, and for the longest time, are the residue of the people we carry. The past would be done, gone and over with if we didn’t impress the lingering elements of it –the faces we knew, feelings and fears and hopes we had – on what we currently see and experience. We create what was in what is.
The only real way you ‘have’ someone is in how you carry them in your thoughts. Lifelong love is how well you create the love that was in the life that is. How you reinvent it over and over again… really just in your mind.
Social contracts do not make love. Facebook statuses nor marriage licenses nor even the most seemingly wholehearted promises do not either. The real work of love is in the tiny, daily, otherwise overlooked moments in which you find your minds and spirits and sometimes bodies merging. In how you eat breakfast together and read sitting next to one another and take care of each other. The grand gesture is fun, but it’s not the nitty gritty work.
The real work influences your every moment. It’s how knowing them shifts your mind, and how well you cultivate that shift to be kind and caring and not bitter and scared of the crap the light that awakened you revealed. Loving is growing to value someone else’s thoughts and opinions and feelings enough that they become part of the background, the foundation, of your own.
And when we lose the ones we love, the pain is rarely not being able to physically experience them anymore. Once we’re at the point of acknowledging that they don’t want us or the good reason we don’t want them, the hurtful part really isn’t that we can’t spend time with them anymore.
What’s painful, what shifts, is seeing how the background and foundation and narrative you created no longer fit your life. How you can’t help but continue to carry someone in your thoughts and into your life, even when they’re not really there.
Sometimes it’s crucial for people to step away and allow us to mend on our own. Oftentimes, it’s simply realizing that there’s no such thing as making someone ours, there is only what we grasp and become from knowing them, there is only the privilege of having had them, even for a moment or a day or a year or just one lifetime.
You do not need to physically have someone forever to have love forever – the unconditional kind doesn’t hinge on someone being unconditionally loving in return anyway. We need only become conscious of the fact that we “have” the people we think we have. And the real purpose of that having is not to change a status or guarantee affection, it’s to change us. So you learn to honor what’s a part of you by loving what was born of knowing someone who reflected you, who awakened you, and who guided you. It doesn’t matter if they’re gone for a week or a month or forever, you are never without them.