Love and Loss

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Love hurts. That’s such a truism it has become cliche. And yet it’s something that human beings seek. Indeed, we need love as much as we need food and water. Studies have shown that infants who are given basic sustenance but no human touch will fail to thrive.

Still, love can be a bitter pill to swallow. Just ask anyone who’s suffered from a bad breakup. No amount of Ben & Jerry’s can numb the pain. And what’s worse, after we finally get over the heartbreak, we do it all over again with a new mate. Are people incurable romantics? I don’t think so. But our drive to love and be loved is powerful.

Ask any parent, and they will admit that having children is simultaneously the most beautiful and terrifying experience they have ever had. I have never known a love like the kind I felt when each of my children was born – or in the case of the fourth child, adopted. My kids are my everything. They are also a constant source of worry. Whether they come down with a virus, fly to Italy, or hang out with friends on a Friday night, I am frightened of what might happen to them.

My son plays football. Last Friday night, two of his teammates left the field on stretchers. One was down so long I was certain he had been paralyzed. The fear I felt in those moments was intense. I can only imagine what it must have been for his mother, who stood helplessly by while medical professionals assessed the situation.

We imagine the unimaginable. But sometimes the unimaginable actually happens. This morning I went to the funeral of a 15-year-old girl. My heart broke to see her devastated mother, father, and sister struggle with their grief. I am sure they have asked why. Why did their child succumb to cancer? Why, having lost their oldest daughter, did they have to bury another? Yet I doubt they ever asked, why did we have children? Why did we risk such heartache?

Why do we love against all odds? We are wired for it. We are God’s children, and God is love. In the words of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “‘Tis better to have loved and lost/Than never to have loved at all.”

Love is painful, messy, and unpredictable. It is also warm, joyful, and blessed. May we share the blessings of love all of our lives.

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