I’m stuck at Heathrow, George Clooney is nowhere in sight. I’m watching Mommies with babies trying to quiet them and find a fifth hour of amusement on the linoleum floor. I’m watching sweet little old ladies snarkily say, “Oh hush it!” to people they don’t know. I’m watching some tall dude in a suit pick his nose while he speaks loudly on his cell. I’m really regretting not being more liberal with the pain medication I packed. I’m coming home from a SUPERNATURAL convention.
People paid money to meet me. Real money. Like, you-could-totally-do-other-shit-with-this money. This is astounding to me, but more astounding is the reaction that people have when they do, in fact come face to face with me. I had more than one person burst into tears. Some stumbled on the well-rehearsed lines they had practiced. People wouldn’t look at me or wouldn’t stop looking at me. They were silent or effusive. They stammered compliments and mumbled thanks or assertively asked for a hug, being betrayed by hearts I could feel slamming through their chests.
They were all kinds of people. Sweet-faced young children, saucy grandmothers, burly bears of men, normal girls, girls with blue hair, BOYS with blue hair, mothers, aunts, fathers, loners, a hen party and a couple of gorgeous Irish lads who woke up some latent predatory instincts in me when I found out they could dance. (WEAK SPOT! WEAK SPOT!)
I never told them I loved them. And I should have. I think they loved me.
My mother loved me. She was an elegant lady with a capacity for love that was inhuman. She was so beautifully damaged that her love came out in spasms interspersed with fear. She was terrified of what the neighbors would think of her parenting skills, but still sewed a cape for me to pretend I was Wonder Woman. She sat through the circuses I would choreograph in the back yard and applauded with what seemed to be genuine pride. She supported me unconditionally which seemed normal at the time, but now I know how much terror she had to face to do it. She had the Weird Kid and she loved me anyway. (When I shaved my head she did request that I not appear in public with her until it grew out a bit, but fortunately that was the day before I left for church camp so it was an easy request to fulfill.)
Her fear of conflict frequently overrode her parental instincts, however. My sister was molested by a neighbor and when my father was told, he shot the man’s window’s out. Consequently, when I came to Mom with my own concerns of that nature, she begged me, “Just don’t let your father know.” Bad that a child got a Bad Touch. Worse that a gun was discharged and people stared. Still…. she redeemed herself. Seven years ago, weak with cancer, she stood between me and my father and said, “Frank, your child is frightened of you. I will not allow you to hit her.” That act meant more to me because I know what it cost her to express it. And how beautiful is it that ultimately love overcame every other emotion my mother felt?
I didn’t deserve her love. Yet she gave it in a way that she became my definition of what it was. When she died, I truly believed I would never be loved again. Slowly I am realizing that love’s capacity to be expressed is infinite, just as there are infinite kinds of love. At this convention, I felt one.
At first I responded with suspicion, thinking it’s not True Love, they don’t even know me. But it was so clear that something in me had legitimately connected with something in them and it was enough to make them bring offerings of chocolate and books for my child, or simply overcome their fear and look me in the eye. How is it possible that it’s ME who earned that love, though? Could have been anybody. But it wasn’t, was it? It was me, and I did what I could, but I didn’t do enough. Every person I made eye contact was giving me a piece of their heart and I cherished that.
So, after letting this marinade for a while, I think I would like to say from my broken, imperfect, undeserving heart that was loved anyway… thank you. I love you.