This has been a very rough patch for losing beloved family pets; my brother and sister-in-law and two dear friends all had to say goodbye to dogs who were woven deep into their lives and the lives of their families and communities. Sweet, true, good animals who loved profoundly and without question.
This made me think hard about the special quality of wordless love. I talk too much. I don’t mean to, I just kind of can’t control myself. I have a thought and feel compelled to utter it, sometimes without any editing whatsoever. Sometimes with disastrous consequences. A therapist once told me that my life would be improved immeasurably with a 5 second delay button; think thought, push button, use 5 seconds to filter out meanness, then say something better. Words can hurt. They can also heal and we need them for all kinds of reasons.
But all these losses of 4-legged friends make me wonder if the greatest love of all might be silent. I think it is possible that I married my children’s father because once, long ago, in a snowstorm, in a hotel bed in Grand Rapids he looked deep into my eyes with such pure love that it went straight to my soul and ricocheted right back to him. Maybe if we had been able to duct tape our mouths for the next 15 years we could’ve made it as a couple.
Tom was not a word guy. He was smart, well-read and wise, but clever repartee or killer Scrabble scores were not in his wheel house. But when he chose to weigh in on a topic, usually after listening to someone (often me) rant and ramble for a very long time he would choose a couple of absolutely perfect words that showed his understanding and provided sterling advice all at once. It was a gift that was mentioned more than once at his funeral. We all thought he’d done it just for us. None of us had realized he did it for everyone.
An even greater gift was his physical presence. He radiated calm assurance as well as actual heat and he could place one hand on me and literally suck out all the stress, worry, chill and angst. It was magical. I miss his touch more than any single thing in this world.
I think this explains why hugs are so powerful. There is such comfort and peace in being wrapped tightly in the arms of a loved one. Such a feeling of connection and well-being and love. Sometimes it feels as if they are literally lending you their power and strength, passing it directly from their body to yours to shore you up, allow you to go on.
I like having this image and insight just 24 hours before I start 5 days of silence. It makes me think about the value of wordlessness instead of how freaking crazy the whole thing will likely make me. And when I get back maybe I can channel Mandy and Zelda and Cosmo. Maybe I can do more wordless loving, more just showing up next to someone I love because it seems like the thing they need most.
That would be nice.