“What Is Love?”
While waiting for the grisly, bearded man to scan your groceries at the supermarket, take a peek at the hordes of magazines obstructing the Snickers bars. On almost every cover, guaranteed, will be an attention-grabbing, brightly colored headline such as, “Want to Know if He’s Into You? Turn to Page 47!” or “91 Ways to Fix Your Relationship”, or my favorite, “7 Ways to Tell if You’re Falling in Love”. Chances are, if you feel compelled to push aside the tic-tacs and flashlight batteries and purchase one of the magazines, you’re not falling for anyone, you’ll suffer a horrible breakup with your guy in the next 3 months, or “he” is not into you, and, in fact, likes your best friend Shelby instead.
Love comes to people in the strangest ways. Some are wise enough to know it when they see it, others, like me, need a kick in the rear to realize just how lucky they are. Flash back to November 27, 2007. I was writing an English paper and listening to music, happy that I was getting my homework done and looking forward to the coming weekend. The phone rang, but I didn’t think anything of it. I thought maybe it was my dad calling to say he’d be late again or another political solicitation (Obama ’08?). Minutes passed as I happily flew through my second body paragraph. Suddenly there was a knock at my bedroom door. I opened it and a thousand horrible possibilities hit me as I scanned my mother’s face, ghost white and grief-stricken.
“Gab,” she whispered, “grandpa had a seizure.” I just stared for a second, then asked what any normal ignorant person would ask:
“Is he okay?”
She shook her head and her voice cracked as she muttered the inevitable, “He’s gone, babe.” It was at that moment that my emotional hurricane ceased to exist. I nodded and went back to writing my paper, all the while just thinking about the awful four-letter word that changed my life in a matter of seconds. My parents and friends figured it was just my way of dealing with grief, blocking it out. I tried so hard to believe it wasn’t real, that my best friend and second father figure wasn’t dead like everyone else. I thought he’d live forever.
The funeral came and went, and I cried harder than I ever have in my life. I felt empty and alone. Everyone was so preoccupied with arrangements and appointments that they forgot it was okay to grieve. And I found the one person who didn’t mind tear tracks on his sweatshirt: my boyfriend, Andrew. It’s funny; he was entering my life as my grandpa was saying goodbye, and I had never dreamed I’d find someone who I missed immensely as soon as he left or smiled just hearing his voice. I got another chance to learn that appreciation can’t be given as a “one-per-person, take-a-ticket-and-step-aside” kind of deal. Keep reminding people how much they mean to you before it’s too late. It doesn’t matter if you’re young and busy, or old and weary, if you’ve found it, you know it. Don’t be afraid of the L-word.
I’m 16 years old, and I believe in love.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.