Many times I would catch myself staring at my mom – like in a movie, when suddenly the world goes slow-mo but only for the point of view of a particular character. It usually happens in the most pivotal parts of the story – when a car is about to hit a kid as he runs across the street going after his soccer ball or when lovers are about to be united, only the girl gets shot by her other lover. These are morbid examples, but I assume you get my point. It always has something to do with your entire life flashing in front of your very eyes and there’s nothing on this Earth you can do to control the unfolding.
These moments, though, are about my awe-and-almost-to-the-point-of-disbelief as to how my mother can love the way she does.
I would catch her behind my father, inside the car, leaning closely on his back, probably listening to him talking about something mundane, but listening carefully, still. I must have dipped into another dimension or so, ’cause in that moment, it’s as if I had sensed her love and light as physical things.
It’s as if I saw them around her, like a halo, not only surrounding her head but her entire body. As the scene went slow-mo I knew – I knew how much she loved him, as if I was an alien and I just discovered human love for the first time. It was a revelation to me.
I have always struggled with her decision to stay with my father despite all the hurt and trouble he’s caused her. I have always thought she lacked self-love and self-respect. However, in that moment, she was nothing but radiating pure love. I didn’t sense any codependency or foolishness from her. She was like an angel – grounded in her true nature, strong and full of compassion.
Days ago, a similar thing happened, this time it directly involved me. We were in the middle of an intense confrontation early in the morning and I was acting like a full-blown crazy person. I have said hurtful things to her out of overwhelm. The more she reached out to me, the higher the walls I put up around me. The more she wanted to connect, the more I backed off from her.
She was aiming for unity and resolution from the very beginning, and I was gearing myself up for an all-out war.
As I was blurting out hurtful things (with no intention to hurt her, but only because the situation called for honesty), the scene went slow-mo again and I actually started hearing myself talking. My words were like daggers. They shoot out everywhere. I thought they must have stabbed her in all her most vulnerable spots.
I was expecting she would arm up in total defense, but to my awe and almost-disbelief again, there she was – radiating pure light energy.
She was silent, not because she was waiting for her turn to hurt me, but because she was listening to me with the intent to understand and even comfort me. It made me wonder, how can that be possible?
How can one rise above rejection and feel compassion for the other instead? How can she love me when I was hurting her? How can she even dare to listen to me when I was acting like a total spoiled bitch?
Or maybe she didn’t see me that way. Maybe I was not. Maybe she really saw my pain and felt my humanity.
Are we even the same species? ‘Cause I don’t know for a fact if I have loved like that, if I can love like that. Again, it’s as if I was an alien, discovering love for the first time. It’s all puzzling to me.
Many of us think that we know love so well. We throw “I love you’s” like pebbles everywhere. We write poems and songs about love. We create movies about love. We even swear in the name of love.
We think we know love so well until we hit our limits, until we bump our heads in the ceiling of what we thought it was.
Love. Compassion. These are such big words. These are the same things Jesus from the Bible teaches us about. Love your enemies? Forgive seventy times seven? Redeem and ask God for forgiveness those people who have put you on the cross to suffer and die?
Jesus and my mom must be the same species. Their hearts are so…advanced.
I couldn’t even love those people who are simply annoying me. They’re not even my enemies. I find it so difficult to forgive even those people who didn’t intend to hurt me and in fact, continue to care for me. My concept of love and compassion is so tiny that many times it’s not even enough for me. I still struggle when it comes to loving even myself.
I remember a time when I asked my mom how she did it – enjoying moments with my father despite all her frustrations about him and their relationship. She simply told me,
“Just love. Just enjoy each moment, each experience. Just be happy. Just love.”
I was struggling with my own relationship with him and I couldn’t find my footing. I couldn’t bear to just “enjoy the moment” with him. Whenever we were together, I brought all my resentments with me.
Hearing that advice from her made me feel like a totally unevolved human being. I had no soul at all. I asked myself, “How the fuck am I gonna do that?”
Now whenever I go to church and hear about stories of Jesus, stories about love and compassion, I always pray and say,
Teach me how to love like you. Help me understand that what makes us human is not our ability to love those who are easy to love, when it’s easy to love them but our ability to love those who are most difficult to love, when it’s the most difficult to love them. Help me transcend my limitations and know that without this kind of love we are nothing. Nothing else matters.
This kind of love gives me goosebumps. It’s the same feeling I get when I join mass protests or when I watch a soul-baring musical performance. This kind of love offers us a glimpse of the Divine inside us, all around us. This gets me thinking, if love and compassion don’t make superhumans, I don’t know what does – I don’t know what can.
I don’t think there’s anything else that can connect us better to the Divine than those. If there isn’t a love like this, where would we be? With all our flaws and unlovability without this kind of love who could have we become – or rather, who could have we NOT become?