Learning to Love
We are all products of our childhood and I am no exception. All the seemingly small memories and experiences combine to form our personalities, our beliefs, and to teach us how to love.
I have many memories of my childhood, but the clearest to me is a memory of myself as a little bruised-knee girl learning to ride my bike. I called her lightning. She was a beautiful purple bike with shiny chrome handlebars and streamers that flew in the wind. On that bike I was free, untouchable, and I could fly. I was never happier than when I was on that bike until I saw her.
I watched in admiration and awe as I saw my cousin ride her bike WITH NO TRAINING WHEELS. The race was on. I HAD to learn to ride like that. My Dad agreed to help me. The next Saturday, we headed to the front yard. Round and round and round he pushed me on that bike, carefully balancing me while I peddled. He kept asking if I was ready for him to let go, but I was scared and always screamed no. I didn’t want to fall. I just wasn’t ready. So I peddled on. We continued, well into the afternoon. Him running and holding the back of my bike, and me terrified of falling, but feverishly wishing I could ride alone. And then it happened. I rode down the driveway, for the hundredth time and I heard him yell-“see you’re doing it, you’re doing it!!!!!” I looked back over my shoulder and saw him smiling in the distance. He had let go of me.
I should have been excited, I should have been thrilled, I was finally doing it But, I wasn’t. I was mortified, and I was angry. How could he have let me go? I ran inside crying to my mom, explaining what had happened. That daddy had deserted me, and let go of me when I needed him most. She smiled in the tender way she always did, gave me a hug and explained to me that he just needed to let me see I could do it on my own. You see sometimes loving is letting go.
18 years later, my bruised knees had healed and the sun streamed through the clouds. I walked down that aisle, my mom and him by my side. I was nervous and excited. I was marrying my high school sweetheart. “Who gives this girl to be married to this man?” My eyes welled up with tears as I heard him answer. Here we were, so many years later, and he was letting go of me again. He bravely smiled as he watched me walk down the aisle with the new man in my life. NO hint of jealousy, or sadness. You see, he understood, that sometimes, loving is letting go.
He lay silently in his bed, 15 years later. His breathing was labored and rattled. He couldn’t open his eyes. They told us he could still hear us and I believed them. I needed to believe them. We sat with him, taking turns holding his hands. We sang him songs, talked to him, and one by one we each spoke to him alone. It was my turn and my hands shook as I held his. Just like before I was terrified. I knew he needed to go. I knew that heaven was waiting. I knew that he would be healed and be the best and youngest version of himself. I wanted it for him: life without hearing aids or wheelchairs, life without losing his memories or forgetting his family, true, beautiful, everlasting life.
I knew what I had to do…you see sometimes LOVING IS LETTING GO…my daddy taught me that.