“I Love You”

I Love You… 

Three big, little words. Big in it’s meaning or meanings but small in a sense; in the amount of words and effort it takes to write or say the sentence. It is the sentence that every woman as well as every man in love wants to hear. Every child wants to hear their parents tell them these three words, even though they may not know why. There is, some sort of comfort in these words, some strange sense of …a warm blanket or blankie on a cold night. Words uttered on a death bed or last dying breath, give us a sense of comfort knowing that the person leaving truly loved us. But do we really know what love is?

love These three words make many of us uncomfortable to hear and say. I am at the top of that list. Yet, like others I love just as deeply as the next person. My wife wouldn’t have been with me if I didn’t. But she knew how I felt and I also told her. I thought about writing this for some time now but hadn’t had time nor was I making the time to do it. But I found myself forced to write on this subject. Why? Because a dear friend of mine went away for a while… it’s not the first time we have been separated. But twice I went through the same thing, this time more pronounced though. I couldn’t figure it out and then it hit me about 4 days later…

happy-married-couple

The dictionary defines love as a feeling of strong affection or an attraction based on sexual desire. The latter definition is where most people’s understanding of Love exist. Rarely, does a person see love without a sexual desire attached to it. It is that thinking, that causes a heap of trouble. We often jump straight to sex in a relationship and when it sours, so goes the relationship. Now, the dictionary did attempt to give more than just one meaning for love. But the Greeks did it much better , in fact, they have 4 to 6 different meanings for the word love. 05-secrets-of-happily-married-couples-kids        storgē  that familiar feeling, for instance the love  parents have for children and children towards their parents. That “I know you, you belong to me” kind of love. Agápe is one of the highest forms of expressive love. The greatest example is God’s love towards us, God’s love for mankind/humans. It is a verb, it is the command to do, is it the unconditional, it is the charity, it is the love that compels us to stop and buy a sandwich for that hungry person. When Jesus said to love one another it was not only a command but it was this kind of love he meant.

Senior man giving woman piggyback ride

Dear reader, are you starting to see that there is more to these 3 little words? Is it becoming clearer that perhaps the entertainment industry is just absolutely wrong in what they purport is love. Anyway, let’s move on.

Philía …ah.. though we have Heard it translated as the brotherly love, it means friend.  marriedPhilia is a deep love for a friend, friendship love. That deep connection to the one that makes you laugh, maybe gives good advice. They are probably the first shoulder you cry on. The friend you can rely on, someone you feel an affinity for but never thought of your closeness as love. This isn’t a sexual thing, this is not a same sex attraction thing. When I was in my teens I had a homeboy/friend whom I would have done any for and likewise. We were inseparable, if you saw me, Larry was not far behind. He also had some fine older sisters to (that’s a different kind of love). His mother loved me as her own, always offered food and kindness. I’d help her upstairs with her groceries when she came into the building. Once I was so high (don’t tell my mother she doesn’t know this story) I couldn’t move or go anywhere. I think it was my first time…before that I didn’t smoke weed or did drugs and my friend always protected me from it. When someone tried to pass me the joint Larry would say “Ty doesn’t smoke” then I’d be passed a beer instead. As far as I knew he didn’t smoke either, so the day I saw him, my ace, my best friend smoking a joint I was heartbroken. The next time someone offered it to me I took it and it didn’t end well for me. In it’s truest form Larry’s philia love kicked up a notch. He protected me from further harm. He took me home, well his to house and I slept in his brother’s bed. His brother was a bouncer at a local club, so he wouldn’t be home that night. Larry checked on me to see if I was cool ,the next thing I remember was him waking me up so that we could get to school. After our friend, who was the youngest of the crew, died tragically; we all split into different directions. I plunged into work and walked away from school…

asian-couple Now, philia can lead to other kinds on love, we’ll get to that later. But for now let’s move on because you are probably wondering what happened to me “4 days later…

As I stated earlier, a friend went away and all of a sudden I felt this strange feeling. Now I couldn’t put my finger on it but when I did it was like an elevator had a sudden dropped. If you’ve been in one when that happens, you get the analogy. Your heart skips, you reach for the sides, your eyes widen, you’re thrust into a panic “this can’t be happening!!”…but it is. I have known of this person for at least 3 years but didn’t get to know them until about 4 or 5 months ago. Over those months I discovered the enjoyment of life again. A month or so ago, we grabbed some dinner before going home to our families. While we were talking, somehow Sharol (my late wife) came up, I didn’t realize I had never told her the story. I went into the full details, something I hadn’t done since talking to the doctors at the hospital, when I saw the shocked look I knew that we hadn’t talked about it before. But I enjoyed the time, it was casual, no pressure to perform. We’ve talked many times about the world we both work in and other things, like my very short trip into the world of online dating. Never again!  But isn’t that what friends are for? Sharing time together. So, what was my issue? I had gotten into a funk, a blue mood if you will. Then a thought came to me I didn’t get a text today. It took a couple of days but while I was sitting next to my 13 year old daughter eating dinner, the elevator dropped. I told her what it was that had been troubling me and in true Bland sarcastic fashion, without skipping a beat, this kid said “Aww… you miss your best friend..?” We laughed. But she was right! I missed my friend! the proof, dear reader, was when I got a text later that night and my mood lightened. Now, I honestly don’t know if this friend feels as close to me as I do her. I have always been a loyal friend to my friends that doesn’t always mean our friends view us in the same light…6-fabulous-dating-tips-for-married-couples

Eros. The 4th and final of the Greek meanings I will deal with. Eros, is the intimate expression of love. The sexual expression of that close bond, the intense attraction of love that causes your mind, your body and your soul to explode with passion for the one that has you heart. It is this love that the entertainment industry parades in front of us and our children, as LOVE. They skip all the other expressions and meanings of love and head straight for the bed. So do most of us and we all lose out on a deeper relationship, friendship, companionship, something that lasts forever. Something, that every married couple knows. Charm and beauty won’t last, neither does sex! You will get old, you will get sick, the kids will leave your home, you will not always have money, someone will lose a job… one of you will die. If you base a relationship on sex as your expression of love or it is the only meaning of love you have, you are in grave danger. If you skip these, dear I say, stages of love, then you will not have a lasting relationship.

Listen, before I was Sharol’s husband and lover, I was just a choir mate. A friend who would talk about children’s TV shows , because we had young kids at home. We called each other at night and talked, many of those nights she fell asleep on the phone. Then came the feelings of wanting to do anything for her and with her. What followed was a different expression of love. I knew then that I wanted to marry her, but it all started slowly drawing our hearts together, moving through the multiple expressions of love. the-pearl-africa-story-teller-app One last thing, dear reader, before I go. Yes, love is a scary thing sometimes. Even scarier to admit that you feel love. Pop culture has all but destroyed love, it’s meaning, it’s purpose and it’s passion. It’s over use of the word and the twisted value of it, has made it meaningless. Yet, God has created in us this thing that draws us to seek after it. First from him and then from others. How ever which order you put it in, you are still drawn to it. Do I love my kids and family? Absolutely. Do I love my coworkers? Yes, and pray for them as well. Agape will do that to you. Do I you my friend? I absolutely do. Is it Eros?  No… It’s something much more, something that surpasses sexual attraction and only the grown-ups in the room understand that companionship is the greater love. It is the closeness that leads to marriage and Eros. So, sorry youngins’ it’s not the other way around. There were days when I walked down the streets or even sat at my desk in despair and out of nowhere, I’d get a text are you okay?  That was the Lord sending me a life raft. I’m sure she had no clue she was being used to brighten my day. Or on another day when I was feeling like the only person on planet I’d  get something like this, Hey, did you eat yet?  It is bread crumbs like these that opened a door and lead to a friendship that I have come to value. So much so, that when my friend went away I missed her terribly. This, dear reader, is the effects of love in all of it’s glorious Greek meanings. We can’t escape it because love in all of it’s forms surround us. If we have a better understanding of it, which I hope you have just gotten, then we can stop translating it into that despairing image of love that we see on screens… and enjoy a life of loving and being loved by others.

Until next time…love1

 

“Without Her: Friday Night Booze and Bluez”

Atlanta, Ga in my Sandy Springs apartment. With friend and neighbor, Cat; I was 23 years old.

   It started with one glass then another then another and another…

    Like a fisherman I casted out my text to see who would bite. I was in the mood to talk. There was a lot on my mind and I needed someone. It was a long  day. I just wanted to go home and  commence with the Friday night ritual…two glasses of wine and a movie. The text from the therapist earlier to confirm our appointment, set the blue mood I was now in. The thought of finally talking about Sharol and the loss, unfortunately just depressed me. I wasn’t nervous, just unsure about opening up a can of worms. I told my daughter I didn’t feel like sitting outside, I wanted to be alone for a bit. Maybe I’d come out and watch a movie later. Perhaps I should have just watched a movie. What followed was nowhere near anything good, at least for me anyway.

    I waited, but no one texted me back. I finished the first glass and laid down on the bed and started watching Chicago PD  on my phone. I poured the second glass…now my mind was calm. My usual eradicate thoughts were in a single focus…

    The first text ring in…then the next and then another. I was watching PD and having three conversations at once. Then a fourth! The therapist cancelled our appointment! First, I find out that the church that Sharol and I started to attend just closed its doors. Some other silliness happened earlier and now, a cancelled appointment, after opening up a crappy can of “feelings” worms. Are you kidding me!?!! The second glass was done…the texting continued. Unfortunately, the more relaxed I became, the more I felt. Lost…alone… missing the woman whose picture I was staring at. The bedroom door was closed and my pajamas on…the text went on. One conversation was encouraging, the other made me laugh and I needed that, the other was familiar…it took me back to a place I hadn’t been in a while. I liked that feeling. I waited to hear from the other two. But the last one, that was nice. I was compromising myself, my integrity, my faith and my heart. It felt great. Doesn’t sin always feel good?  

Text one, was about business, well the business I’m in. Text two, continued to make laugh and smile…as hard as its been, I enjoyed laughing. Text three, continued to take me down a dark path… 

   Sharol used to jokingly say”I’m glad I didn’t know you when you were younger”… she was right and I don’t think we would have attracted one another. I was a little free spirited, lack massive confidence, filled with pain and constantly battling depression and had many ambitious plans. Oh…I forgot to mention, always drinking, all day and many times high on something…

   I have survived many things this year, but the cancelled appointment was the proverbial straw. I poured another glass of wine exceeding, me and Sharol’s agreedupon two glass limit. I drink with malice. There was nothing I cared about at that moment. I wasn’t trying to wash away my pain, in fact I wanted to feel; feel the lost, feel the abandonment, feel the shock of that Tuesday night when she slipped into eternity in my hands. I’m not a person that can easily relax. My mind runs millions of miles a second. So I’m always in a constant forward motion. Years ago when I suffered from severe anxiety attacks, the medication that I was given help me to relax and for the first time in my life, my mind was quiet with a single Focus. Well I discovered, by accident, a glass of wine with my wife has the same effect. But relaxation was not what I was going for. I wanted complete and utter abandonment of my barriers.

    As the text conversation went on, my mind drifted away. I could smell the Old Spice and other cheap cologne in the air.

I was taking back and saw a guy I hadn’t seen in over 30 years. All the years it took to bury him. The mountains I climbed, to distance myself from him. The man I’d become, under God’s love and Sharol’s care, was gone. I was that guy posing for a picture with a 40 once bottle of Old English 800 malt liquor under my foot. One next to me and me drinking the other. I called it “King of Beers” today I might call him prince of fools. As I continued to slip backwards in time. So did my thought process, I’d forgotten who I had become; the man so full of faith and strength that Sharol wanted to marry. I became the dead man of the past, that texter  knew and wanted.  The first two conversations ended but the third continued…the pit was deep.

   I had always seen the devil’s attacks miles away. It would start with me and fail. Then my kids…then my wife…then back to me. Attacking my wife and kids would just piss me off and make me pray more, fight harder. But his victory that Friday was the result of a thousand tiny cuts. My tendons, that I needed to stand and fight with were slashed. Kind of like shooting Achilles in his heel.  A slow weakening of my defense. I kinda saw it coming, but hadn’t the strength or will to fight…

 Saturday morning…

My mouth felt like an aspirin bottle cotton ball. I felt dehydrated. The guilt from the night before didn’t come…but anger and disappointment did! “You’re a really nice man” one person said. “You know, you’re a stand up guy” another said. One person, over heard me calling home to check in on my daughter’s homework. “You’re a good dad” she said. “You’re a good guy…people are responding to that, they want to help” still another said. “I love you Ty…” Sharol would say, especially when I was going through something. All of the words folks had been saying to me started flooding my mind. How could I have let them down. I thought. How could I let my troubles get to me, get me to the point that I was so weak.  I’d determined that I couldn’t do anything about the night before or my past. But I had full control of the present and the future. This was not the hill in which I was going to die on!  Sunday morning, I was at my computer watching a church service online. I was reminded of who I was, of whose I was. I was reminded that years ago a good work was started in me. I was reminded of Sharol’s words, that God had her with me so that I would be the man he wanted me to become… clearly, that old dead guy wasn’t it! I determined, at that moment; however arduous this journey to the end of my life is, I will continue to beat down and bury the old man. This is not The Walking Dead.  That which is of the past and from the past will remain in the past. What has been risen like the Phoenix from the ashes of my old life is something entirely new…

    It is the thing, that encouraged the maintenance man in a hotel room, listening to me talk to my 13 year old daughter. It is the thing, that blessed my boss when he came Sharol’s funeral! It is the thing, that encourages and blesses my Co workers and bosses, when they see me working diligently! It is the thing, that, shapes generations to come simply because I gained new wisdom! It is the thing, that makes me stand and fight… and tell that hellish old man from the 20th century, he has no place in the 21St century!

     I don’t know, dear reader, how I’m going to continue to navigate through this strange time I’m in. I assure you I didn’t intend on writing about it. Heck, I thought I’d be in the forth chapter of my book by now. But life has taken me along the scenic route. Crazy, people keep telling me to continue to write. Really? Are you all crazy? Have you any idea what this subject is like for me…? But, apparently, there are some reading this and being blessed by it. That, my dear reader, was the reason I started writing in the first place. Now, I’m going do as The Afters said and have the time of my life.

Until next time….