The Moment You Know
I’m single. Been single for a while now. And one of the things I’d really like to experience again SOON is, not just being in a relationship, but knowing that the man I’m in a relationship with really loves me. (I discovered recently that people actually get into relationships with folks they don’t even like, but that’s another post.) Yes, I want the romance, passion, fun and whispering of sweet nothings, i.e. I love you. But, l also want to experience that identifying moment when whoever (Bruno Mars) falls in love with me, does something specific that lets me know without any doubt that he loves me.
I was reminiscing over some loving and lusty moments in my life as a young drama queen when a particular old flame crossed my mind. Initially, I was just thinking about the sex, which was mind blowing. Then, I realized that one of the things that made the sex so spectacular was that we were in love. I was in love with him and he was in love with me. Looking back, he practically worshiped the ground on which I strutted. He loved me to the moon. And I know that not because of what he said, but because of what he did.
While we were dating my diabetic ass caught a stomach virus that morphed into diabetic ketoacidosis and got me a few days in the ICU. My mother was contacted when I was admitted to the hospital, at which time she and my stepfather raced 180 miles down the highway to see about me. When my mother reached my room she hugged and kissed me. She asked me if I was okay, and then she noticed him. My boyfriend was standing on the other side of my bed holding my hand.
She gave him the iciest of glares. He said hello and extended his hand to her and Papi. He told them his name, but I don’t think the obvious was mentioned. My parents said hello. Papi was warm as he always is. Mama, not so much. I knew what she was thinking. It was all in her eyes and down the bridge of her narrow nose when she looked at him. I could almost hear her thoughts. Who is this boy and why is he holding her damn hand? She hasn’t mentioned him to me. He better not be distracting her from school. And he’d better not have gotten her pregnant.
My mother was a very petite, very beautiful woman who had a way of looking through you more so than at you. She looked at him like she could see every sin he’d ever committed in the past and might possibly commit in the future. And she was judging him. Hard. If looks could kill they’d have sent a transport team to remove my hand from his and take his body down to the morgue.
Yet, despite my mother’s evil eye, he didn’t flinch, falter or flee. That’s when I knew that his love was the real deal. And it wasn’t just that he didn’t run from the clear and present danger. It was that he stayed until he had to leave for work. And when he got off work he came right back. Even when the doctors said I was out of danger and definitely wasn’t going to die he kept his constant bedside vigil. He even combed and attempted to style my hair when I couldn’t due to the IV stuck in my hand. And when I got home he took care of me until I was 100% better.
Those simple actions taught me important things about love. I learned that love doesn’t walk out when danger walks in. It doesn’t abandon you when the going gets tough, unknown, or unpredictable. Love stays with you even when the only thing it can provide is a comforting presence. He couldn’t cure me or ease any physical pain or discomfort, but his presence helped put my mind at ease. Even when I thought my mama was surely going to stab him in the throat with a syringe full of air he stayed with me.
This point would be reiterated later in my life when I was hospitalized again and the young man I was then dating, instead of being there for me during my distress, disappeared like BBQ ribs at a July 4th cookout. It was driven home when I watched Papi stand by my mother when she got sick and eventually died of breast cancer.
The sad part about that situation is that even though I recognized he loved me, I didn’t know what to do with that love. I was too young and dumb to appreciate, cherish, accept, respect or reciprocate real love. So, I took him and his love for granted. Now, here I am years later searching for what once was right in the palm of my hand. Next time around, if I’m lucky enough to get a next time, I’ll know and do better.