I had drinks with a friend the other night. I hadn't seen her for several months. The last time I saw her was at our enormous Christmas party here. I was pregnant and getting pretty big. I was also running around, in happy and hectic hostess mode, so we didn't get to talk much. I welcomed her when she arrived and asked her how her boyfriend was. Her face fell when I asked this question. And then she told me they had broken up. The reason? After more than two years of dating, he realized that he didn't want to have children.
My friend? She wants kids. She will make an incredible mother. And so. For her, this was an absolute deal-breaker. She broke up with this man and I was proud, am proud, of her for this. As a mother myself, I don't think people should compromise their desire for a family. The problem though was that my friend hadn't stopped loving this man, and he hadn't stopped loving her. The passion was there in spades, but still their ideas for the future were incommensurable.
So. A few nights ago, many months now after this breakup, we met up to catch up. And my friend was glowing. She has a fantastic new job and a fantastic new apartment. She has been dating a bit. She expressed her understandable hesitations about plunging back into the romantic pool after what she has been through. But then she said something. Something so wise. She said that she has realized, really realized, that the flip side of love is loss. That if we go through life trying to protect ourselves from hurt, from loss, we are not truly allowing ourselves to love. Love entails risking loss, the most profound loss of all.
And I sat there nodding because I could not agree more. I am a far more anxious person than I have ever been. My days are laced with fear and worry. I used to think it was adulthood, that this stage of life simply means more responsibility and concern. And this is probably true. But my friend made me aware of something I think I acknowledged only implicitly before the other night: I am fearful because there is so much love in my life and I am deeply, if unconsciously, afraid of loss. Husband. My three girls. Mom. My sisters. My greater family. My dearest friends. I love these people - more or less, and in different ways, and I am worried about losing them.
Thankfully, this worry is not all-encompassing. Thankfully, I do not go through my days pondering loss. Thankfully, these fears are often more intellectual than they are conscious.
Today I am thankful to have such a thoughtful friend who alerted me to something, something inscrutable and important, that is at play in my own life.
Today I am thankful for conversation. For the words and ideas and questions that come, organically and beautifully, when two friends, two people, take time to sit together.
Today I am aware of the immense love in my own life, and what it means.
Thank you, B, for your friendship and incomparable cocktail hour wisdom :)
Do you believe that the flip side of love is loss? Do you think that truly loving someone means opening yourself up to profound loss? How many relationships do you think fail because of the kid issue? Have you encountered any relationship "deal-breakers" in your time? Are you more anxious since finding love in your life?