This time for me - midlife, I mean - this is the second time in life when it becomes inescapably obvious that to love is an act of creation.
The first time is on the brink of adulthood, when we must mourn the death of childhood, and try to realize that even if it was good, and we loved it, it is nevertheless gone. Loving something doesn't give the lover the power to make time stand still. You can't keep it. Love has to happen in motion.
Perhaps this is because love is a living thing - and all living things change.
The awareness bursts in like windows blowing open in a storm when it comes in for the second time. Or - it does for me, anyway. I think there may be people with battened down hatches who refuse to feel it ... and I think there are people who live in such ordinary and accustomed chaos that this storm isn't any different than any other. And, I know there are people who do not ache in every muscle and connective tissue and vein and vessel when their windows blow open. But I do.
Perhaps this is because love is a thing that must grow or die, and I always was the type to be susceptible to growing pains.
If your first awareness of mourning the passage of time happened after a bad childhood, you have two losses to mourn, though. If your childhood held love - or held mostly love, then you mourn the loss of that - but if it held pain - or if it held mostly pain, you must also mourn the lost opportunity. The Happy Childhood is now gone forever - you've aged out of the system. Your childhood was stillborn. That is a particularly ragged wound to bear. That is a wound that can become infected. Eventually, if you do not learn to clean and dress something like that, it will kill you.
But my childhood, for all its felt pain, contained mostly love. I resented its passing. I wasn't done with it yet. I knew where all the little coves and calm places were, and I knew how to get to them. And then, without my permission in the least bit, it was over. Suddenly in a new country. That's what early adulthood feels like. And the new country surrounds a body because the body is too big for the old one. You can't go home because you're not you any more. You don't know who you are. And you don't know how it is possible to be thrust into a new place not of your choosing. Don't we have to choose where we want to be? Decide something?
Perhaps this new habitation is because love is something that expands. Life tries to teach us this.
And so here I am, in the shards of glass from the broken window, in the sodden carpet and upholstery from the storm's most recent burst, catching my breath again and looking around and taking the deep breaths that precede the clean up. And this time some of the structure has been damaged. It's torn off over there, and I can see the colors of the old paint schemes and the place where I repaired it awhile back - oh - and that other time. What was I thinking? You can't repair stuff with the stuff I used for that one. Oh well. It worked well enough, I guess.
At least all those repairs and changes in color and rearrangements through the years kept this place habitable ... the kids didn't mind if this enclosure was a bit out of level in places or if the repairs were made with various oddities and bits of things.
And all of a sudden I see it. The repairs - the paint - the glass bits on the floor right now, and the papers everywhere because they were lying about when the windows crashed open this time. Slowly ... like the sun coming out from behind the clouds for a moment in the glorious, terrifying, shocking colors and air currents of the storm, illumination begins.
I know how to do this.
I know how to repair and construct things. How to make a dwelling.
For all these years, just because the babies can't be outdoors all the time and be okay, we did it over and over and over again. We changed things too. We added on. We moved things around. We rebuilt and repaired and in the middle of all of that, I turned into a person who knows how to grow and change. I learned to love.
Perhaps this is because love has an object. That is what love is. It loves something. It loves someone. It agrees to flex and bend and change - and to make safety when safety is needed.
And love knows when to open up altogether. Or ... maybe I should say, Love knows how to live through it when the windows blow open. And maybe, just maybe, Love is teaching me to live mostly out there in the occasional storm. Maybe there is nothing to fear. Not really. If I need to, I can build a shelter. I've had lots of practice.