Taking It to Your Grave

Over the course of my life, I’ve learned that the one true test of any kind of love is time.
Everyone, including myself, says the word “forever” when they’re in it. We think our relationship will survive all of the highs and lows, fights and times when we’re apart. We think that it’s impossible to feel any less and that we’ll always feel that way. We shout our love from the rooftops for all to hear. We think that we’ve finally found the love we’ve been looking for our whole lives.
But so many times, things don’t go the way we thought. Feelings fade, people drift, relationship-ending conflicts occur — problems that we thought we’d never have suddenly (or not so suddenly) arise. To put it bluntly, crap hits the fan. Years later (or even months later), the love that you were once so sure of is in jeopardy. The person that you were once so enthralled with isn’t in your life anymore. And contrary to the popular saying, absence only makes the heart grow weaker.
Now don’t get me wrong. I believe love takes many forms and changes over time. You’re not going to feel exactly the same way 20 years down the line that you did in the beginning. The emotions are different. But it’s still love.
Maybe you don’t see or talk to a close friend as much as you used to — it doesn’t always mean that you love them any less. Maybe you and someone fight frequently but then quickly makeup, and that’s simply the dynamic of the relationship. In another instance, you may have had a falling-out with someone long ago, but find yourself thinking about that person often throughout your life and always wishing you could reconnect.
Yes indeed, love comes in all forms and degrees.
I recently disbanded a long-term best friendship. We were going on 10 years. The first six had been wonderful in general, but things got increasingly worse over the last four. Known for my Never-Say-Die approach to love, I stuck with it and continuously tried to work things out with her.
I believe an important part of loving someone over the long haul is understanding that both of you are going to change (for better or for worse) in many ways, and you have to accept and adapt to these changes if you want to survive.
Anyhow, even though things were bad, I kept putting one foot in front of the other. We kept talking regularly and visiting each other despite the physical distance between us. But my repeated efforts to address our problems to save our ailing relationship were only met by avoidance or arbitrary attacks. To make a long story short, it didn’t work out.
There were great times with her, and I did love her, but I realized that the good didn’t make up for the bad.
“You know what love is, Kim,” my fiancé Sky said to me. “And this isn’t it.”
So now I sit here — knowing that I did what was right, but also in utter disappointment. For 10 years, I recall all of the times I said the word “forever” and believed it with all of my heart. And now we’re not together anymore.
I wish that we could’ve worked out our problems. And the ending of our long-term best friendship makes me very sad. So I mean no apathy when I say — I guess that’s how things go sometimes. And you just have to handle it the best you can.
But it’s odd in life how when one door closes, another one unexpectedly opens.
I recently reconnected with someone, after a 12-year estrangement. After growing up together (our parents were best friends from college), there had been a huge falling-out with her and my family when I was 14, and she had left our lives completely.
But in her absence, I still thought about her frequently throughout my life, in my most important moments and many times in-between. The question becomes: Does thinking about someone over the course of your life equate to love?
There were certainly times when I thought I didn’t love her anymore — that it was too long ago, that what I felt was simply memories. That I was relying too much on the emotions of a child.
But I had loved a lot of people growing up, and they weren’t the ones that stayed with me. They weren’t the ones I thought about when I graduated from college. They weren’t the ones on my mind when I received my first statewide journalism awards. They weren’t the ones I pondered over when my mother died.
So why was she the one I thought about during those times, as well as repeatedly throughout my life? The answer is pretty clear.
What finally gave me the courage to contact her after 12 years I’m not sure. I had thought about doing it plenty of times but never did. It sounds strange, but one day I was simply in the mood.
Upon contact, I was happy to find that our feelings were mutual — that she had thought about me often throughout her life and always wished to reconnect. That in a 12-year gap, we had both stayed with each other.
I’m not sure many people realize how remarkable that is. Most people can’t remember what they did yesterday, let alone keep someone inside of them for 12 years.
Going back to my opening sentence, it seems that love really did stand the test of time.
Over the past couple of weeks, things have been going very well with her. We have said our apologies, addressed what happened and are committed to a new beginning with each other.
Does our reconnection mean that I feel the same way about her that I did as a child? That we’ve suddenly snapped back into a perfect groove? Of course not. But it’s a chance to begin again together. And for that, I’m thrilled.
My point: At the end of a person’s life, those left standing will be the ones that truly were forever. Until that time, no one ever really knows for sure. And that’s why faith is such an important aspect of love. To believe in the good in each other. To believe in your feelings for them and theirs for you. To believe that the love you have for each other really will be taken to the grave.

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