We all have ideas about what love is—love is patient, love is kind, love never ends. Love is steadfast and honest. Some say love is holding on, some say letting go (apologies to Placido Domingo and John Denver, though it’s a beautiful tune.)
But as for what love does, EJ hit it on the head. She might also have said, “Love makes us braver than we ever thought we could be, brave enough to be the best, most true-to-ourselves we can be.”
Sex has nothing, specifically, to do with this. What propels a good romance novel forward is a dance between fear—he/she’ll walk if I start to let him in, he/she’ll try to take over if I let down my guard—and courage: He/she could be the one who stays, the one who accepts me as I am, the one. The more fear is met with love, the more courage grows to the point where it becomes trust.
It amazes me that we can pull this off in 400 pages, because some people never once travel that arc in 104 years of living, which is sadness of a magnitude that defies description.
I can recall a moment when I knew my sister loved me, and I knew I loved her. I had turned up pregnant without benefit of matrimony and the child’s father was not a candidate for a committed relationship with me (did I put that carefully enough?). My older sister, a conservative, devout woman, who will not be caught dead reading one of my novels said something to me at the time like, “We all have regrets. You’re going to be a mom now, and babies have a way of making everything special. The important thing is that you get the support you need to be the best parent you can be.”
There wasn’t a hint of condescension or veiled judgment in her sentiment. She was carrying her fourth child at the time and knew exactly what lay before me. She could have lectured me, scared me, shamed me or rejected me… and all I got was kindness and acceptance.
There is no greater sustenance than such love.
For the rest of my life, I will recall that moment, a time when I was poised to emotionally skedaddle or at the very least, get the deflector shields up in a hurry, and Wham! Somebody offered me compassion, humor, acceptance, commiseration—they offered me love. If I can write such moments for my characters, the scenes sing their way into the reader’s heart.
To give and receive those moments, to treasure them, is what life is for.
Tell us about a moment when you knew you were loved.