Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Quiet Time

I once had an aunt and uncle, well, they were probably really second cousins once removed, but in terms of the Hungarian family, when you're a child, anyone over 21 is an aunt or an uncle. Anyway, she was deaf and mute, he was blind, deaf and mute. She could read lips and would speak to the hearing folks of the world in the non sibilant way of the deaf. To communicate with each other required them signing into each other's hands. Watching them together was a thing of beauty.

The recall that is clearest in my mind is a Sunday afternoon at some family gathering probably forty years ago. We were all seated around the dinner table. Little Helen - her mother being Big Helen, which was odd because Big Helen was tiny and Little Helen wasn't, but... oh nevermind. Little Helen and John (her husband) sat next to each other. Throughout the meal their hands touched and their fingers danced. The result of which was an occasional outburst of laughter from the two of them. Sometimes Little Helen would relay what had passed between the two of them, other times, she would not.

What was clear to me, even at that young age, was the way he looked at her, and the way she whispered to him.

Love, it is oft said, is blind. At the very least, it is myopic. Real love doesn't see warts. It doesn't see flab, wrinkles, bad hair, no hair, funky teeth, or even a wheelchair. Love sees the beautiful and only the beautiful, and it has no choice in the matter. That's simply what love is. Any line that starts with, "I love you, but..." has nothing to do with love at all. There are no qualifiers, no discounts, no conditions. Love is, or is not.

I believe that love is also silent. It is in the unsaid. Proclamations are easy. It's what we speak without words that roars. It is in a touch, a glance, a smile. It is even in a tear, rolling effortlessly down the contour of the face. Sometimes the unsaid, the silence of love, comes while we are speaking. It is what's heard between the words. It is the lone, clear note that lingers after the phrase is played.

In a recent conversation with my dear friend Timothy, I told him about the time that my late mate John fretted over a gift for him. I said, "You have no idea the time we spent picking that out. It took all day. We went to the art store and back and forth over a few objects, went to lunch and discussed it, then back to the store, and John just paced around and couldn't decide." Timothy interrupted, "Did you hear what you just said?! That's why I love you!" Perplexed, I responded, "Huh?" "You said paced.... that's just... you're beautiful that way." (For those who are still saying, "huh?"... John was confined to a wheelchair.) Most people don't think of those who are wheelchair bound as pacers, but John was definitely a pacer. The booger was rarely ever still. I said to Timothy, very matter-of-factly, "Well, he did! He paced all the time! He just used wheels to do it."

But I caught Tim's drift. He had heard what I wasn't saying. He understood the blindness of my love for John, because he shares that blindness. Neither of us ever saw a man in a wheelchair. We just saw a man, who, for all his frailties, insecurities, and bravado, needed to be loved.

Not long ago, as I was snuggled up against Steve, I smiled up at him and asked, "How did I get so lucky?" He shrugged, and said, "It seems the first half wasn't so great, shouldn't the second half be wonderful?" All the unspoken love in that sentence came rushing at me. I lowered my head back onto his chest, letting my hair fall over my face to obscure the single tear of my unsaid.

1 comment:

  1. thats is a great way of thinking of it gives me a some what different twist of things.


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