The last few days have been filled with stories of the life of former First Lady Barbara Bush in the wake of her passing. Amidst the tales has been a common theme: a theme of unconditional and unwavering love for her husband and children. Honestly, as I have watched television coverage and read articles, amidst the stories, some laced with humor and others filled with sadness, the most impactful on me was her love for her husband.
My eyes have filled with tears on more than one occasion as the love story of the former President and First Lady has been recounted. Not just because it is so beautiful, but because it strikes a familiar chord inside of me.
Let me explain…
We are all, no doubt, familiar with the biblical, much-quoted in many-the-wedding, “Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, etc.”
I often questioned if that kind of love even existed. It sounded good on paper, but in all transparency, was there really such a love?
When Scott and I met and married, my kids were in elementary school, so we spent our days and nights attending kids’ games, nurturing the kids’ needs, pouring every ounce of energy and love into them so that, in spite of traumatic times, they would be ok. And seven years into this second marriage, as the youngest left for college, we hit a marital wall and that same verse haunted me.
It was only during our brief separation, and becauseof that separation alongside the belief in the deepest part of my soul that he was the man I was meant to spend my life with, that I broke down the verse and dedicated myself to immerse in the true meaning of unconditional love. It was only then, at the deepest level of self-awareness of who I am vs. who I want to be in a love relationship that everything changed.
And I added a few lines of my own to the verse that would become a guidebook to the fiercest kind of love I had ever known.
SHE-friends, my love was tested with a tough reality check. And in every test, if we dig deep enough, we rise up. Then we, as Robin Roberts so eloquently once said, “make our mess our message.” So here is my message: Love is hard. Love will challenge you. Love is a risk. Love is not a fairytale. Love requires hard choices be made. The best love is a fierce love. A love with intensity and passion…to make it work, even in the toughest of times.
When we found our way back to each other after that separation, it was only because of our fierce love for each other.
The love between George and Barbara Bush, I have no doubt, was not perfect. They were challenged by the loss of a child. They were challenged by war. They were challenged when she lost her mother suddenly due to a car accident. They were challenged when one of their children was diagnosed with a learning difference. But they endured each of these challenges together, hand in hand.
They did not give up, they rose up together. Hand in hand. And they loved fiercely.
So when friends comment on how much fun my husband and I seem to have or how sweet it is that we hold hands and love spending time together, or even when co-workers comment when he walks into my office with beautiful flowers in hand or a surprise, I am careful not to take it for granted. You see, SHE friends, it is only in learning to love fiercely that I have come to understand the very essence of love at all.
In the end, there is no magic; there is no façade. There is no regret. There is only the hand I want to hold for the remainder of my time here on earth. There is only love. A fierce love.
Note from the SHE Files: The greatest love of all is a fierce love