The Risk of Loving

“The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief -
But the pain of grief
Is only a shadow
When compared with the pain
Of never risking love.”

~ Hilary Stanton Zunin

Connor’s mom’s funeral was today. It was a tough one, but it was nice. Connor picked out all of the music for the service. He also went up in front of the congregation and did a reading. He did a beautiful job. I was so proud of him.

Yesterday, it was suggested to me that maybe I am too attached to Connor, considering he and Kacey are only nineteen years old. Who knows where life will take them, right? I know that the statement was only made out of concern for my feelings. If I get too attached and somewhere down the road, Kacey and Connor go their separate ways, I’ll be heartbroken. When the concern was expressed to me, I thought to myself, “It’s too late. I am definitely attached to Connor.”

But I’ve wondered since then if I should have been more cautious with my feelings. My kids are young. Their friends and love interests may come and go from their lives. If I let myself get attached to everyone, am I setting myself up for disappointment and heartache? I don’t know if I have it in me to hold back when I really like, really admire, really love someone who comes into our lives this way. But is it careless of me to let myself get too close to people who may or may not be here for the long haul? I wondered, if I had been more careful with my feelings, if I wouldn’t have felt such a heart-crushing sadness when I learned of Connor’s mom’s passing. Maybe it wasn’t my place to hurt so deeply for a young man and family who aren’t even my own.

I recently put the WordPress app on my iPhone. It allows me to get notifications when a new blog comment is received. Today, just after leaving the church, I felt a vibration from my purse. My phone was buzzing. It was a WordPress notification. I’d received a comment from my friend, Jeni Hill Ertmer in response to one of my recent reflections on Connor and his mom’s passing and the dark feelings I experienced as a result. Jeni’s words came to me just when I needed them most. She said,

The older we get and the more we realize fully that we -none of us -is immortal, I believe causes the passing of others -whether they be young or very old -to register and linger more with us. The unfairness we recognize in the loss of someone either very, very young -as in a child -or an adult just hitting their stride perhaps -is something to be reckoned with for sure and also normal to think if my mind, my heart is so clouded,so fogged up right now in bleak thoughts and sadness, what right does the old sun have to come down and shine its glorious rays upon me and those I care deeply about too? And yet, sometimes it is just in seeing that beautiful sunshine that helps to start the healing process as we still have to look around and see that, yes -life goes on. I think it forces that realization upon us as if to say I know this is painful but let me help you in just some small way. That Kacey, Connor and their closest friends will be respective roomies and also that their rooms will be across the hall will no doubt create a close circle to envelope Connor through the first days there and also, without his Mother too. Peace -to you and especially for him as he begins the process of going forward and truly standing on his own two feet then too.

Jeni’s words washed over me and put me at peace with the sadness I’ve been feeling. She brought me peace with my feelings for Connor too. And I realized, if I’m “too” attached to him, then so be it. It’s a risk I’m willing to take. Connor loves my daughter. And Kacey loves Connor. And so I love Connor. He fits in with us right here, right now and that is good enough for me. Just like one of my own kids, when he is happy, it makes me happy. When he is hurting, I hurt. And when he needs a friend, support and love, I want him to know he can find those things in this house, with this family. There is no guarantee that anyone I love, anyone I care for is going to remain in my life indefinitely. I can’t hold back on loving anyone out of fear of losing them later. That’s no way to live. I may experience heartache somewhere down the road because I feel love. In fact, I think it’s a pretty good bet. I’ll take my chances.

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27 thoughts on “The Risk of Loving

  1. I don’t think I have the facility to put things in such moving words as you and Jenny Hill but as a counterpoint, I’m with my Dad who has cancer and is taking much longer to die than he or we thought. He got a call yesterday from a person whose name rang a bell but I just couldn’t put my finger on. He had lost the phone number. I helped him find it and made the call for him so he could talk to her. It turned out it was my younger brother’s first wife who he married some 40 years ago. They (my brother and her) were divorced after only a couple of years. But my parents were ‘attached’ to her and maintained a relationship (that I was not aware of) all these years. He called her “my fifth child”. Whatever happens between Kacey and Connor, your relationship with Connor is your relationship. It stands on its own.

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  2. Oh, Terri, love is always worth the risk. Always! I believe that as firmly as I believe anything. You have not only the done the right thing by Connor–you have done the only thing your heart would allow you to. Blessings to all of you, my friend. You are in my heart this week!
    Hugs,
    Kathy

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  3. Terri, one of your best attributes is your ability to love and feel so deeply about your friends, your family, and your pets. I tend to put up walls to avoid pain and sorrow, therefore, I don’t have near the relationship with others that you have. I want to change that about me so that I can experience the closeness that you have with others. Consider it a blessing to have such an open, loving heart!
    Yes, Connor and Kacey may end up going in different directions, but that doesn’t mean you have to be separated from Connor. De-I made an excellent point in his comment. But if you are, it should be comforting to know that you had him in your life for at least a little while.
    What’s the old phrase? It’s better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.
    I think you’re doing it right.

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    • I don’t think I have deeper relationships than you do. Believe me, I have my share of dysfunctional relationships. I just don’t tend to write about those. I think I feel so deeply about Connor because I feel so deeply about my own kids. Because my daughter loves him, I’ve come to know him almost like one of my own and that makes it easy to love him too.

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  4. Very touching post. The way you’re handling all of this is the best way! Hang in there and keep doing what youve been doing. I know you will. You’re just being you!

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  5. Terri-
    I’ve known you for a long time and none of what you said surprises me. You are an amazing mother, wife, woman and friend. I know that even though we don’t talk or see each other that much that you are always there. Just as I’m sure Connor knows you are always there for him. Even if Connor and Kacey go their separate ways, he will always hold a special place with you.

    I am honored to call you my friend.

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  6. I think you are on the right track by not withholding love and friendship from Connor. We know love is about risk. I think people and situations are put into our lives for us to both learn from and teach to/through. It is good that you have such a positive connection with him now and it will pay dividends down the road, especially when there may be grandchildren, lol.

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    • It did occur to me that Connor may have come into our lives for a reason. I have learned more from this “kid” than I could ever have imagined.

      Grandchildren would be nice! :-) …. down the road a few years, of course!

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  7. This is so moving, Terri. I’m so glad you came to this realization, because if you didn’t, I’d have come and knocked you over the head with it. ;-) You are one compassionate woman. Never question your reasoning for love and/or compassion. That’s what life is truly meant to express. Bless you.

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  8. I’m with you, Terri. Love always carries a risk — that the person won’t love us back, that the person will leave us (or die). Hearts are meant for sharing — not closing off from possible pain. Your friend said it well — life isn’t always fair or kind. Perhaps that’s why we’re called to be both!

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  9. I love this post so, so very much.

    When my just-younger sister and her high school sweetheart were just on the verge of 20, my dad tried getting custody of my youngest sister. The hearing was short and unmemorable, the judge incredulous that my dad would waste judicial resources seeking custody of a teenager who didn’t want to see him at all.

    What was memorable was my sister’s sweetheart, who was, naturally, there for us. All of us. As we walked toward lunch without him later that day, my mom told my sister, “He’s our family now. Not just yours. Even if you break up, he’s one of us now, because he loves all of us so much.”

    That same man–then my sister’s husband–helped care for my mom at the end as if she was his own mom. He wasn’t caring for my mom because she was his sweetheart’s mom, but because he’d come to love her–through mental illness, physical illness and all. I witnessed tenderness many times and thought often of my mom’s words.

    Our connections to some people might begin as acquaintances through someone else, but often they develop a life of their own over time . . . as well they should.

    Rules of love are overrated. Love itself sustains.

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    • Deborah, thanks for sharing this story. Since writing this post and hearing others’ support for how I feel, I no longer have any doubt I’m doing what I should be doing. But it’s good to hear similar stories. I’m so glad your sister’s husband came into your lives. Clearly he has been an ongoing source of strength, support and love for all of you.

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  10. Wow. Terri I cannot add much more to this that hasn’t already been said. I agree with everyone’s input – especially Jeni’s heartfelt words of comfort. We all put ourselves out there when we share our lives and love with someone. Other people might have held back from opening their homes and family for Connor, but I don’t think that is in your nature. I hope that Connor finds some peace with Kacey and his friends and the love you guys are showing him. Abby nailed it right on the head: we shouldn’t have to worry over caring too much.

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  11. I think its called living an authentic life. Due to so many loves that ended with death or who had only intended to be in my life for a short time, at a very early age I was convinced it would be better to surround myself with a block of ice to protect my tender spirit. That block of ice prevented me from fully engaging in loving many who came into my life. Sometimes we get hurt badly by opening ourselves up, but, because I’ve been there and my bones are getting colder, I’m starting to do just that and I love the warm.

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  12. I think, in many ways Terri, you and I think and operate a lot alike. Especially when it comes to dealings with people and our feelings towards them. MY ex-husband tended to think I got too caught up in other people’s pain and concerns at times -until he had to cope with the loss of his father and then, he understood better about grief and dealing with it. Don’t ever fear extending yourself to others the way you frequently do now. To not respond when others are in need, in pain, I think would cause way more pain to your inner being then than it would to run the risk of being hurt at a later juncture in life. This way, you don’t have the regret of thinking “I should have done”something” or “I could have done more and it soothes your own spirit in the process that way. Peace.

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  13. I think Life has a way of doing 2 things: putting us in the path of people who need us or that we need or can learn from… When he loves your daughter, you can’t help but love him. And in losing his Mom, your Mother’s heart naturally hurts for him. Regardless where their paths lead together, you cannot be wrong in showing love and care to this young man … like others have said, sometimes we get hurt by opening ourselves up but isn’t it really the only way to truly live?
    How can we be loved if we can’t show love? Wishing you all comfort as you move forward from this sad loss,
    MJ

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  14. I think it would be way harder to try to stop feelings. You never know what will and will not work out and that’s the best and worst thing about life that I’ve discovered. All the turns and twists that come at us – I say enjoy what is there right now and when the next twist happens, twist with it and go on down the road. I hope they work out though, because they are such a cute couple and seem like they are really good for each other!

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