It Must Be Love, Love, Love
Hello and welcome!
Thank you for spending a few minutes here with me today!
Previously on ‘Blogs’…
I’m getting my head around labels and society’s need for pigeon-holing, and I think I’m now super confident to say, after receiving all your wonderful comments… I am deaf, I am recovering from a brain injury, and I love biscuits!
I suppose that leads us on to this week’s topic… it must be love, love, love!
It’s very nearly February, if not February already if you’re reading this on Monday, which means the shops are full of red sparkly tat and amazingly over-priced cards proclaiming deep love of all kinds. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely against ‘St Valentine’s Day’, and I’m absolutely definitely not against telling someone you love them… I’m telling people that all the time, even people I don’t know very well, I just enjoy spreading the love! What I do have an issue with is how much it costs to tell someone you love them; I refuse to take out a second mortgage to buy my husband a card which says something that I could be telling him every day for free!
This week’s missive isn’t just a rant about Hallmark, or even the crudely commercial taking over of a Saint’s day, but it is in fact an opportunity for me to touch on the subject of love itself and what that looks like now, in 2021, during our third national lockdown. The idea for this week’s blog manifested itself after I had recorded a BSL version of ‘Higher Love’, a Steve Winwood classic that has been covered incredibly well by so many people!
The acoustic cover of Higher Love by James Vincent McMorrow was an absolute favourite of Joe’s. Now Joe was one of my closest friends at university, he was a vibrant mass of colour and pure joy, with a group of faithful devotees who felt at their absolute best when by his side. There was not a soul in that drama department who didn’t adore Joe, or who didn’t feel better about life after chatting to him for even just a few minutes. He was diagnosed with a brain tumour during our second year of university, but no way was that going to stop him! When he crossed the stage to collect his degree, the applause and the cheers raised the roof of St Paul’s.
A group of his closest friends visited him in the hospice as often as we could, making the trip down to Leicester with what was becoming a familiar feeling in our stomachs of dread and hope in equal parts.
We treated every visit like it might be our last, just in case. When it came to saying our goodbyes, we made sure it was a good one. My last visit certainly didn’t feel like it would be the last, until we came to leave. We’d said our goodbyes and left his room, but I’d left something behind, so I went back in and grabbed whatever it was, as I turned to close his door behind me I looked back. ‘I love you’ he mouthed, and I hated him for it, because I knew at that point that this would be it, I’d never see him again.
Three words. I. Love. You. Did he know his time was up? Did that mean he’d forgiven me for all the stupid mistakes I made at university? Did that mean he loved me despite all the times he had to be my moral compass and keep me in check? Did that mean he knew how deeply embedded he was in my thoughts and feelings?
I analysed those three words for at least a year after he died. Pulling them apart, putting them back together. He had said he loved me a million times before, but this time he meant it. Now I’m not suggesting he was suddenly declaring his undying love for me, that’s not what he meant at all, our love was the kind of love between friends that keeps you on an even keel. The deep-rooted love of someone who has seen you at your absolute worse and didn’t judge, but picked you up, gave you a telling off and still managed to see your light, see your goodness even when you couldn’t see it yourself.
That kind of love doesn’t get talked about on Valentine’s day, that kind of love isn’t about Cupid and love hearts and smoochy kisses. That kind of love is real, it’s grounding, and I feel incredibly lucky to have been loved like that by someone who I loved so deeply that I would have walked through fire for him.
Love is odd isn’t it? Love is utterly bizarre! It’s possible to love someone so much that you hate them, it’s possible to love someone so much that the grief you feel when you get left behind is so severe that it changes you as a person. You can tell someone you love them and then days, weeks, months, years later, wonder why on earth you felt that way at all! But the love that I’m talking about, the grounding, continuous, unrelenting love of a close friend, that never goes away. You can’t fake it either. You’re either all-in, or not at all, you can’t love a friend that way but then not show up for them when they need you.
It’s easy to assume that if you are family, blood tied and all that, then you are loved. But it doesn’t work like that. We are led to believe that blood is thicker than water. The full quote is actually…
“The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.”
The original meaning of the phrase was blood shed on the battlefield creates a stronger bond between soldiers than familial or genetic ties. I can attest to this for sure.
My extended family encompasses people who are not connected by blood or even marriage, but by a choice. They made a choice to be there through thick and thin, we made the choice to return our ‘allegiance’ and show up when we’re needed. Even blood relatives make that choice, or they choose not to and that’s fine. Again, it isn’t cute teddy bears on a card, it is a choice to share your life with a soul who you can trust to always open the door.
Covid-19 and everything it has brought, has made a lot of people think differently about life and about the people they have around them. I miss my family and friends more than I thought I would, and since the New Year, it has felt more like a desperate grief tugging at my insides! Are we now grieving for the time with our loved ones that we’ve missed out on? I know for sure that whenever we’re allowed to, I will grab hold of my loved ones and squeeze them so tight that cracked ribs might be an outcome that they’ll just have to be OK with!
So this month, instead of giving my money to Hallmark, I’m going to make sure that I tell every single one of my loved ones actually how much I do love them. Whether it’s my husband, who gets sick of me telling him how much I adore him (he makes a bloody good cup of tea!), or my neighbours who have been our sunshine through these dark times, or my soul-friends, whose love has literally kept me alive before now. I will tell them all, that without them, my life would be a desert of drabness.
Why not do the same? Why not tell your people how much you love them? Lockdown is a dark place, let’s fill it with red confetti (bio-degradable of course!) and proclaim our love for each other because I genuinely think that without sharing some love, getting out of this in one piece is going to be impossible.
So for now, whoever you are, wherever you are, you’re doing amazing, you’re doing the best you can and for that, I love you.