Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Measure of Love

I have a guest post for you today.  My sister has a blog on being the mom of an autistic son.  It's called, cleverly:  You can find it here

She wrote a piece a few weeks ago that I found very touching, and I wanted to share.  Enjoy.


Yardstick not required.

Someone once said to me "I love you this much," and held up his thumb and forefinger stretched as wide as he could.  I said "what about this much," my arms stretched wide.  He said, "That's the same thing - my love is represented by how far I can stretch, whether it is stretching both my arms or my thumb and forefinger." 

The other day we stopped for lunch at a well-known west coast fast food restaurant.  When we went into the restaurant, it was lunchtime, crowded, with a lot of noisy activity.  We made it up to the front of the line to order and my son started being unable to process the sensory input.  He covered his ears and looked up at me.  "Do we need to go outside?"  He nodded, his eyes large.  We placed the order, and then let our companions know we were going to wait outside. 

We stood in the parking lot, resting against the car, enjoying warm sun in December.  My son explored in detail the mysteries of asphalt while I watched the traffic and folks going in and out of the restaurant. A man came out of the restaurant pushing a woman in a wheel chair.  I remembered seeing them in the restaurant while we stood in line, the man feeding the woman a bite of hamburger which she clearly relished.  They were both older, and she apparently did not have use of her arms or legs.  I watched as he carefully locked the brakes on the wheel chair and folded the footrests up.  He opened the passenger door of his car and then lifted her into the seat, her arms and legs dangling.  He arranged her limbs and leaned across her, drawing the seat belt over her to secure her.  His gentleness and her comfort suggested to me they were husband and wife and had been for a long time.

My eyes prickled.  The relationship I was observing was in its sunset years, and her condition was probably permanent. There was likely no hope of recovery for her, no strategy for improving her health or her ability to care for herself.  His actions were those of love with no goal other than continued caring until death. 

There are many things we do to show the measure of our love.  It might be making coffee for your mate every morning.  It might be listening with a caring heart to a loved one's deep fears and worries. It might be folding laundry the exact way your child wants.  I looked at my son and realized I was doing the same thing for him as the husband was doing for his wife.  Arms-wide feeding a hamburger to someone paralyzed, or thumb-and-forefinger safely removing someone from a distressing, high stimulus environment, are immeasurable acts of love, continued caring, regardless of the potential outcome.  How far you will go, the distance of your love is endless and measurement becomes, in the end, irrelevant.

Final note - As the man backed his car out of the parking spot and drove away, I saw the woman in the passenger seat.  She was leaning back against the headrest with her eyes closed in the sun's warmth. She was smiling.
~ "A new commandment I give to you,
     that you love one another" ~
John 13:34

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