Chris shows love through doing. He cleans the snow off cars with vigor and care. He wants us to see out the windows when we drive away. He wipes up goopy messes that fall on floors. He doesn’t want us to slip and fall. He does these things with purpose. You can pause a minute - not holler “Hey! That’s good enough! I gotta go!” - when he is scraping the rear passenger window on the SUV (that window in back which none of the rest of us would scrape off). If you bother to pause: you can see the love.
So here we are in quarantine with more time. More time to attend to stuff we didn’t pause for before.
We watch a lot of musician documentaries. That’s one way I show love to Chris. Last night David Crosby said “My mom’s good at loving.” I like that! To make loving into a thing we can practice and excel at! Like getting better at Spanish. I could stand working on how I love.
I talk to friends. A lot of us show love through worry. Which we have a whole lot of these days.
Dillon, who is temporarily living with us, gets tested for Covid 19, and in the days we wait for the results, we worry. I know he is healthy and hopefully will be fine - but what if I catch it and die?? (Stick with me here) …. I worry that Dillon will have to deal with the thought that he brought the virus home and I died.
Won’t that screw him up? I ask.
My friends laugh. That’s a bit extreme, they say.
But that’s what worry does to you.
I read a Mayo Clinic doctor say that anxiety is like a wind tunnel where we get stuck. Your mind actually changes and becomes more rigid. Extreme.
One friend worries about how the economy will be when this is all over.
One friend worries about the daughter in NYC who works in the “essential” category.
One friend worries about her fragile kids and their mental health, and she worries that she is not prepared to handle what will come.
Another friend talks about the one son who isn’t at home - will he feel left out, she worries, when he hears about the board games the family is playing, the meals being prepared?
I think Dillon would tell that son that he is the luckiest guy on earth. He is so tired of Chris and I telling him what to do, making him food, telling him to wash his hands, asking him “what’s up?”, you know - other stuff like - looking at him?
Dillon walks by me in the kitchen and I no longer establish eye contact. It’s like road rage at this point. If I ask him one more time if he’s hungry, he may snap. This kid, who four weeks ago was saying “I love you” as he left for work.
That’s the problem with love. It can disappear like the Spanish you learned in high school. Swiftly, the way the night falls.
One minute you are at the sink with your hands in sudsy water watching a women in sweat pants at dusk walk a Labradoodle down the block. You look down at the dishes to scrape off some hardened ketchup and when you look up - all you can see outside is the tree trunk illuminated by a landscaping light.
Thank God memory is corrupt. Dillon will love us again….as soon as he can leave us.
For now, I will work on being really good at loving. Maybe smile and look down when Dillon walks by, or lift up my feet when Chris vacuums beneath them, maybe look for ways to show love. Practice daily, uno, dos, tres….. It is spring: I could clear off all the windows of my soul like a snow covered car and really see how to excel at this thing.