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Best Love Stories

What Is Love?

by Steve Goodier


Diane Ackerman said, "Everyone admits that love is wonderful and necessary, yet no one agrees on just what it is." Over the years, I have been learning what it is.

When I first got married, I wanted to show my love to my new wife. I was drawn to romantic stories like one from the time of Oliver Cromwell in England where a young soldier had been tried in military court and sentenced to death. He was to be shot at the "ringing of the curfew bell." His fiancée climbed up into the bell tower. Several hours before curfew time and tied herself to bell's huge clapper. At curfew time, when only muted sounds came out of the bell tower, Cromwell demanded to know why the bell was not ringing. His soldiers went to investigate and found the young woman cut and bleeding from being knocked back and forth against the great bell. They brought her down, and, the story goes, Cromwell was so impressed with her willingness to suffer in this way on behalf of someone she loved that he dismissed the soldier saying, "Curfew shall not ring tonight."

That must be love, I thought! That was the kind of commitment I needed to make! I wanted to give my all. To tie myself to the bell for her. To die, if necessary, for her. To sacrifice myself on the altar of true love! I wanted her to know that I’d give it all up for her.

But she never wanted me to die for her. Never! Clean the toilets, maybe, but never die. My commitment was to be shown in household chores! (I read that an exhaustive study showed that no woman ever shot her husband while he was doing dishes. What a relief. Washing dishes may lack inspiration, but at least it's safe...)

I was never called upon to tie myself to the bell. But I was still called upon to show my love - in little ways, mostly.

I was needed to comfort her before we were married when the doctor told her she could never have children…to hold her hand and tell her I wanted her more than I wanted a family.

I was called upon to sit by her hospital bed after surgery and encourage her.

I was called upon to hold her after her father died and let her cry.

I was also called upon to carve out alone time with her as often as possible and to make sure my plans included her as well as me.

I was never needed to prove my undying love through a glorious act of self-sacrifice. It was something I was required to do in little ways, through one small act of kindness at a time.

And that, I've learned, is love.

 

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