I've been thinking a lot lately about love.
A few months ago, a friend and I were talking about love, the romantic kind in this instance. After enduring what I think is my fair share of heartbreak, I explained that I wasn't sure I wanted to take a chance on love again. I wasn't sure if my little heart could take it. I was afraid.
I listed all the reasons why I should hang up my hat and take myself out of the relationship running. The pain was too much. The risks were too great. For me, the risks include plummeting into a depression that I can't climb back out of and I reasoned that, particularly with two little girls who need me, it would be foolish for me to take that risk again. How could I let someone in who might hurt me? How could I let someone in who might threaten this good life I've worked so hard to build?
"But that is a part of love," my friend argued. "And love is worth it."
"No," I replied. "It's too hard."
And I began to shut down. I began to close up shop, packing away my hopes for a future with someone by my side, pushing away thoughts of romance and companionship and stuffing down any longing for affection and connection, hoping it would all go away. I have to protect myself, I thought. I have to close the borders.
But lately I've been reconsidering this policy.
I've been thinking a lot about my life's experience with love so far, with love of all kinds, and I've realized that I have been surrounded and engulfed and tripping over love - the love of family and friends and boyfriends and neighbours and people who smile as we pass each other on the street. I've seen love in the eyes of my daughters and felt love in a handshake with a stranger and heard love in the voices of a choir singing love to all the hearts in the room. Love is in the garbage bin blowing down the street that is retrieved by a neighbour. Love is in the gluten-sugar-dairy-free dessert my friend went out of her way to make so I wouldn't be left out. Love is in the joke made by the grocery store clerk as she packs my groceries. I have let all of this love in and I have been rewarded beyond measure.
But what about the pain that I'm so afraid of? The pain is there and it has hurt like hell and it has shaken the ground. But the buildings still stand. And I've been asking myself: Would I take away all that love to avoid that pain? Would I take away those months, those years, of happiness so as not to endure the pain that marked its end?
No. No, of course not. Not in a million years.
This has been a tough few weeks for a lot of people. The crisis in Syria and the plight of the refugees who are fleeing their homes. The suicide bombings and attacks by ISIS in France, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, just to scratch the surface. More fear and pain than it is possible to comprehend. Closer to home, good friends lost their 11 year old son this week, a beautiful boy and an unimaginable goodbye that should never happen. It seems to me that lately there has been altogether far too much sadness and heartbreak to go around. But then, there has also been love. Communities pulling together to be there for each other. Strangers offering homes and clothing and warm welcome. Friends offering condolences and support and warm thoughts. Would I, as a parent, take away my time with my child if I knew I would have to say goodbye? Should we miss out on the chance for more love and kindness and beauty in this amazing country of ours on the slim chance that some ugliness might slip through the cracks?
No. No, of course not.
With love comes pain. But with pain comes love.
So I'm choosing to let love in. Not without caution. Not without some security checks. But the borders are now open and love is now welcome. And as for the risks? I'm trusting that I can handle them, as I have before. The buildings still stand. I'm trusting that we as a country can handle them too, as we have before. The buildings still stand, built on immigrant shoulders, held up by immigrant hands.
Let's let love in. Let's let love flood in.
Because love is worth it.