What a grand thing, to be loved!
What a grander thing still, to love!
-- Victor Hugo
There was a scene on the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy between a young woman, fighting the recurrence of her ovarian cancer, and her uncle, who is the chief of staff at a hospital. They are dancing, and during the conversation, in talking about her boyfriend, the young woman tells her uncle not to worry about her and what may lie ahead, because she has been loved.
Poignant, isn’t it. I’ve thought a lot about that scene since watching (and sobbing through) that episode. There is truly nothing like the feeling of knowing that you are loved by another -- and not via parental love or sibling love or agape love -- but via full-fledged, full-on, passionate, blinding romantic love.
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
-- William Shakespeare
I am blessed because I not only have been -- and am -- loved.
However... I have loved more than I have been loved -- and find that the sting of unrequited love still twinges even today. There is part of me that wonders about those long-ago loves and why they were not susceptible to my charms. Who’s to say why my affections were not returned, or even acknowledged. I always did fall in love too easily. One of the greatest unrequited loves of my life turned out to be gay, coming out long after my affection had subsided. In retrospect, all the signs were there -- but at the time, many tears of frustration and hurt were shed. And yes, it does still hurt. Rejection, overt or unintended, always does.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
-- Elizabeth Barrett Browning
To be loved is empowering, exhilarating, emboldening.
To love is to be courageous, vulnerable, defenseless.
And come what may, I go forward, knowing that I am who I am today because I have been loved, and because I have loved.
And that, for me, is enough.