It’s been more than a month – and I still look across to his grave, on the other side of the valley, and tell him I love him and miss him.
But not so often as I used to. Which got me thinking – what IS love?
It’s not like I’m the first person who ever asked. But here’s my go at the answer. First of all, love is a commitment. I loved my dog Coffee. Sure, he left dog turds all over the front verandah, pissed in the house, got into trouble with the neighbours, and chased people (which embarrassed me and frightened them – they weren’t to know he wasn’t a biter). Once my son asked me what I’d do if me, him and Coffee were lost and starving in the wilderness. Starve, I said. Wouldn’t you kill Coffee to save me? he asked incredulously. Nope, I said – you can have my arm to chew on – but not Coffee. My son wouldn’t speak to me for days afterwards. So that’s love.
Second, love is the way I act. I may hate you – but if I cook your dinner, wash your clothes, download your favourite TV series and put up with your shit, then I guess I love you. Practically speaking.
Third, love is a pathway. When I fall in love, a great burning flame sears a path from my brain to my heart, and every time I see you, the feeling shoots straight down that freeway and roars into my system. Whenever you’re kind to me, whenever you listen gently, and give me small presents, and take me out to the movies, and make love, and chop firewood so I can be warm in winter – that’s a machete keeping the jungle from closing in on our path to passion. When I don’t see you for a long time, when you’re cruel to me, when you’re angry, or mean, or just annoying – that’s when the lantana creeps back in. And – of course – when you’re dead (like Coffee – or dead to me, like exes too numerous to mention).
And finally, love is a feeling. But so what? So is the pain of a stubbed toe (soon gone), the rage that sweeps over you when your lover eats the last chocolate in the box, the disappointment when you finally decide to go see that movie and it’s not on at the cinema any more. Feelings are like thoughts: they come and go, whether you want them to or not. But an action, a commitment – that’s under your control. As for a pathway, if you keep enough loving feelings flooding down it, it will carve a deep river, in time.
And Coffee – you’re ‘just a dog’ – but I love you with all my heart.
For those interested, Rose has a new author website at www.fallaciousrose.com, where you can pick up free books and all manner of strange things (well, what else would you expect!).