Once upon a time, twenty-one years (give or take a few) I entered into a change in life. I was young and naive, like most 22 year olds are, and I’d be a mother in seven month. I didn’t know a lot as I faced down the chasm that separated me from girlhood and childhood and led the way to adulthood and marriage and motherhood, but I knew one thing for sure; I loved Big Daddy with all my heart and that truth would see me through.
I have held on to those simple truths as I’ve walked through my life. I didn’t know a lot, but I knew that I loved the Princess. I didn’t know a lot, but I knew I loved Littlebit. I didn’t know a lot, but I knew I loved Baby Bee. I didn’t know a lot, but I knew that my heart would just keep expanding to love the ones that came into my life and I didn’t know a lot, but I know that love doesn’t end with death. Those truths have always helped me along. When things would get hard, I could hold onto those truths like a mantra. I knew no matter what that I loved Big Daddy and the Princess and Littlebit and Baby Bee and that with that as my true north, I’d always find my way.
Things aren’t that simple, though. Life isn’t that simple. Marriage and love and relationships and commitment aren’t that simple. They should be, but they aren’t. That was one of the mistakes I made, that love would always be enough and as that as long as my compass needle was pointed to love that I didn’t need anything more. As long as I loved Big Daddy and the girls and our family with all my heart, that it would always see us through.
I held on to that little girl naivety that learned from fairy tales and princess stories and rom-coms that all it took was love. Love is all you need, right? But, I’m here to tell you that after twenty years, three beautiful daughters and lots of good years and memories and moments that as I stare down the barrel of a marriage that may very likely fail, that it takes more than love. If it were only love, it would be simple. If it were only love, I’d be in quarantine with Big Daddy. Baby Bee would be sleeping in the middle or maybe not even sleeping with us at all, because I don’t know if it’s the virus or Big Daddy’s absence or both or neither that makes her need to sleep with me again to feel safe. If love were enough, my heart wouldn’t have shattered into millions of pieces more times than I can count. If love was enough, I wouldn’t have to sit with my failures or shortcomings or mistakes. If love were enough, Big Daddy would have never been unhappy. If love was enough, I wouldn’t have had to be unhappy. If love were enough, we’d be intact and together and complete.
Love just isn’t enough.
Love is important. Love is what drags you out of bed for the fifth time to answer the cry of your child or to press your hand against their forehead to check their fever as they sleep, sweaty and fitfully. Love is small sacrifices and small favors to make someone else a little more comfortable. Love is making sure to pour the coffee in the blue cup or serving soup in the blue bowl, because it is a particular favorite. Love smooths the edges of life. Love is a comfortable place to land. Love propels us forward, drives us ahead, pushes us, sometimes kicking and screaming. Love is good and important and worthy and magical and painful, but it still isn’t enough.
We advise young people, upon getting married or having children to “just love them” and the rest will follow, but that’s a half truth. Love is big and good and important, but it just isn’t the only thing and love by itself will never be enough.
Big Daddy will be gone for three months on Wednesday. The night before he left, I walked into our room for the last time and I don’t know that I’ll ever again be in a place where the bedroom is ours together. I held him for the last time in that chapter and I don’t know know that I’ll ever get to hold him again or that there is another chapter of ours to be written.
Once again, I was at the chasm. I was standing at the divide between my old life and what would come next. I didn’t know much, but I knew the person I had been before was ending as Big Daddy and I closed that chapter. I didn’t know much, but I knew I would never be the same again. That chasm is so big and scary. I’m still traversing it. Sometimes the path is easy and I’m making my way across just fine and sometimes I get hung up on briars and brambles and sometimes I fall flat on my face and just lay there in the dirt for a while, because there is literally nothing else to be done.
Three months later, and I still don’t know much. What is true and what isn’t is often hard for me to put my finger on, and I feel like I’m chasing leaves blowing in the wind. I am tearing things down to the foundation to start all over again and I don’t know that Big Daddy’s will leave fingerprints as I smooth over rough spots, stack things in more secure ways and level out what was uneven or unsteady.
I still don’t know much, but I know this is true; I love the Princess, I love Littlebit, I love Baby Bee and I love Big Daddy.
Forever and ever.