Notes on Love
As the year comes to an end (what a horrific year it has been), it is naturally the time for reflection. For me, I am in a pensive mood most days, grief does that, I guess. I turn 30 in 2022 and while I look at my life right now — it is not where I imagined it would be.
Am I married to the love of my life? No. Do I have my own house? No. Do I have a thriving career? Debatable.
Mostly I am just sad and tired.
There are many aspects to my life which hasn’t lived up to the dream, but I’m also aware that things happen out of our control and I’m doing the best I can.
Looking back at the past year has been educational for me. I can honestly say 2021 was the year that I felt incredibly isolated. The loneliness crept in at some point and made a home in me. Death and grief have that effect because no one else can deal with it for you. It is solely yours and it often feels like too much to handle alone.
During the year I was angry at the loneliness. Angry at people who I thought had let me down. Angry at the circumstances that led me to this aloneness. Of course, grief pushes you to solitude — because the world keeps spinning and you are left at the moment where everything broke.
Funnily enough though, now when I look back at the year, all I can see is love. I have been blessed with love beyond anything I could ever deserve and it carried me through a year of heartache without me even realising.
Nope, I haven’t found a life partner yet and although I hope I do. I’m old enough now to appreciate the other outpourings of love in my life that do more than sustain me. These small declarations of love, these tiny actions proved to be more powerful than any romantic love could have even tried to be.
I know it pushes me into crazy cat lady territory but if I’m honest with myself, I’d already cemented myself into that life long ago. My cats have been my closest companions this past year. Every time I broke down in tears my fluffy Leo would find me and curl into my lap. He kept me company while I worked from home, while I called doctors and nurses, when I woke up from nightmares in tears.
He is yet to leave my side and honestly, I would die for him. Dusty, in turn, kept my mum company during her heartbreaks.
I’m convinced the cats know when we’re sad and need love.
Family has been everything too, this past year broke us and also bonded us so much more deeply than we could have ever imagined. Only my brother and mum will understand certain triggers, we experienced the panic of death together and in a way, it’s nice to have someone to talk to about those things. My sister, her partner and her kids have been a refuge to go hide in when I need an escape.
There is nothing that a cuddle from my nephew or a smile from my baby niece cannot cure.
I’d never been one for extended family and I can’t say I’m very close to them still. But my aunt and uncle showed up for us. My dear cousin held me upright while I sobbed during the funeral prayers, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have sunk to the floor and not gotten back up had she not held me up with all her strength.
The love I have for her has no bounds.
And then there was the internet. You know how they told us not to talk to strangers on the internet? Well, I’m so glad I did. Twitter gave me an outlet for my sadness and the kindness of strangers has been overwhelming.
And then there are the friendships, these beautiful friendships for which I would gladly sell my soul.
My favourite human in the world is a close friend who carried me. It’s easy to be there for someone when the situation is detached from you, but for someone who had faced loss before, it had to have been harder — triggering even. There was no hesitation, she showed up, time and again. She was there for when I needed to turn up at night in tears, there for walks, for distracting visits to bookshops, for everything I could ever need — she was there. There will never be words for that kind of unconditional love.
The best thing about nearing 30s is that we’re past talking about a single best friend. I have various “best friends” all of whom serve different purposes in my life, all of whom I love in different ways but with the same intensity.
A friend who I know was dealing with covid-anxiety and having a tough time leaving the house, but she showed up to my Dad’s funeral. She didn’t need to but she did.
My beautiful friend who lives on the other side of the world in Canada ordered us ubereats food and treats. She posted me care packages, video-called almost weekly. So far away, yet she was one of the first people I wanted to talk to once my dad passed.
I had another friend in another city who saw a tweet where I was very much losing it, she called me and read a book to me while I lay in my bed and cried. A loved one who I know was incredibly busy, all the way in Rome, spent an hour every day for a week calling me and watching my favourite show with me on zoom. At a time where everything was too much, I cherished that hour a day where I didn’t have to worry and could just enjoy something.
I have many loved ones abroad, who I have never met in person — the result of having worked for years in a remote team. We had movie nights where I could feel loved and cherished while sitting alone in my bedroom. We had group video calls, messaged and they even came together and brought me a spa voucher so I could have some relaxation. Some of the closest people to my heart, I have yet to meet in person. They kept me from losing my sanity.
There were so many kind people, so many surprise parcels in the post, so many endearing messages, so many kind gestures. If I started explaining them all, I would never get to the end of it. Thinking about them all leaves me in a puddle of tears. I honestly don’t think I deserve as much love as I got.
I know all this love is just an extension of the love from The Almighty, I know it’s a blessing I cannot comprehend. To talk about that love deserves its own piece, or book even because I am loved and looked after in a way I cannot begin to give thanks for.
So this year I want to give that love back into the world, to try and ensure no one I love feels alone. To share the kindness that others have shared with me.
Most of all, I want to take the time to appreciate the people in my life and focus on the love I have.