Sunday, February 26, 2012

Perhaps Love .... by Grace Burrowes

I am forever indebted to Eloisa James for giving me the words, “Love heals the shame… love heals everything.” These phrases were muttered asides during her luncheon speech at RWA National a few years ago, meaning she gave them to a couple thousand other people at the same time. They about made me cry (National is enough to make anybody cry, but that’s a different post).

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.

18 comments:

  1. What a beautiful post, Grace. It brought tears to my eyes. I think the love of a child is the greatest gift of all. After nearly 17 years of marriage, I ended up being a single parent raising two young children, much to my surprise! Your eloquent and warm words are reflected in your wonderful stories and that's why you are a New York Times best selling author! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. I DID cry while I listened to Eloisa's luncheon speech at 2009 RWA National. I was fortunate enough to have taken a writing workshop from her mother, Carol Bly, back in the day. Tough lady. My heart kinda broke for them both while I listened to Eloisa speak, but...on the silver lining side, the strength and resilience she developed because of that sometimes challenging relationship was so pbvious to me!

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  3. Terry, I didn't comprehend what it meant to love somebody until I became a mom. The warm-up rounds were over, the pre-game exhibition done. It was time to put my whole self behind the choices I'd made with my heart, come what may.

    And I wouldn't change those choices for anything.

    Tamara, it took me until my mid-thirties, when I'd been a mom for a few years, to realize about my mother: She gets to be the baby. My turn being the baby was over, and it was her turn again. My job was to love her as unconditionally as she'd loved me when I was little, helpless and without the clue.

    And one wonders about the ladies in Robert Bly's orbit. He was so consumed with his almighty men's movement, did that leave enough for the women who defined his masculinity?

    ARGH. Families...

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  4. Lovely post, Grace. The moment that comes to mind most readily was one a few weeks ago, when my daughter took my face in her small, chubby hands, turned it to hers and said, "I love you, Mommy." It made all the long nights and tantrums worth it.

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  5. Shana, and then she'll do the same thing the day her dad is supposed to give her away and you'll feel the exact same way...

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  6. Two times of knowing soul-deep I was loved, right then, no matter what, forever:

    Being carried up two flights of stairs and gently held all night while in pain, drugged on meds, clothed in Dr Seuss boxers & a long sleeve tee...and he remained intent I was the one.

    The other: my older sister dropping her entire crazy busy life at the most hectic time possible to fly out of state with me and take care of me emotionally and physically for days. Without being asked. It sounds overly dramatic to say I'm not sure I would have made it through those ten days without her, at least until friends remind me they were certain I wasn't going to make it either.

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  7. Amazing post! I heard Eloisa speak in NJ, and often think about what I learned. As for being loved, I count my lucky stars. Every day. My husband is very convincing. ;-)

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  8. What a touching post! I wasn't there to hear that speech but it couldn't have been greater than your post.
    I dearly loved my grandfather who has been gone now forty years. Last week I heard a story about him. Seems my parents lived with him and my granny until I was about two and then they moved to California. Right afterwards my grandparents moved from the farm into town and my aunt said that before he would leave the farm he swept the front yard. When she asked him why he was sweeping he said, "The baby walked on this yard. I can't leave her footprints behind."
    Doesn't matter when we find out we were loved, are loved or maybe even will be loved, it's all precious!
    Thanks for reminding us.

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  9. Beautiful and eloquent.....as always. Loved this post.

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  10. KWW, thank heavens for people who step up, and isn't it odd how you recall the details? Dr. Seuss Boxers makes that little tale real.

    Amanda, don't forget to amaze him right back from time to time.

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  11. Grace, give her away? Oh, no. She'll never be old enough to get married!

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  12. What a touching and poignant reminder of what Love really is. I didn't understand what love was until I owned a dog. To learn about love between people, it started ten years ago. I had to put my horse down. A friend I'd met online offered to call or let me call her. I had good reason to be paranoid and distrustful. I finally asked if I could call her at work the following morning. I'd been waking up at 5am for 5 years to take care of him. She readily agreed. We've been best friends ever since. We live on opposite sides of the country. I don't know what I'd do without the love she and her husband share with me.

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  13. I was one of the teary-eyed at Nationals that year. It was my first conference and I saw EJ as she was waiting for a cab the day we left. I told her that her speech made me cry, but I think she knew what I meant. Not so much the tears as the feelings that went with them.
    Writing makes us do that. Makes us share the things that make us laugh, love, and cry. It's hard to toss your emotions out to the world and let people take potshots at them. If we're lucky, though, some of it comes back, sometimes when we need it most.

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  14. Carolyn, WHAT a story. Even your footprints had significance to him. No wonder you made a fine choice later in life when it came to matters of the heart,

    Judy, the first time I had to put a horse down, he was on the farm of some friends who hadn't expected this development any more than I did. They were right there, and said the magic words when it was all over, "You made the best decision for the horse..." THEN I started to cry.

    Cheryl, and for all we were tearing up at her fine words, what should have made us tear up as well was her reference to an "EJ Bashing Party." THAT broke my heart too, and then for her to turn around and give the speech she did... The lady never has to write another book as far as I'm concerned. She's a keeper.

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  15. Yes, Grace, it's a blessing to have people like that in your life. My horse's previous owner was there, and was so grateful I'd had the courage to make the decision. I'm glad they were so supportive of you.

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  16. You have a very special sister, Grace. May she be blessed for being there for you at just the time you needed her. That is a beautiful story I will remember. Thanks for sharing it
    Amelia

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  17. Grace, that post is a keeper - I printed it out. You so perfectly defined the heart of what we write about.

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  18. Amelia, Maire is one of six siblings I'm blessed with. They're dessert island keepers, each one, and that inspires me to live up to the standard they set in our relationships.

    Joanne-Yes! I write romance in part because I believe that healthy, caring relationship are greatest gift, the most valuable asset, the best measure of a successful life, et cetera, and I think more folks who read and write romance on that same page. Go, us!

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