Deep Love

3:02 PM



Deep love. It’s the stuff of movies, popular music and poetry. We wait for it, jump into it prematurely, we fight hard for it, we read self-help books about it, and we grieve it’s losses.

The magnetic draw of attraction can be confusing, throwing us off course on our quest for love, but usually we recognize the real thing when we encounter it.

Deep, deep love is undeniable.

The first time I bonded with my newborn grandson, Finn, he was in the hospital, the NICU to be specific. Born a month early with a disastrous platelet count, this little man needed to be infused and incubated for a week until he was stable enough to go home. There would still be some challenges.

Although I watched him enter the world, grateful to be invited by my daughter Rachael to be present at his birth, the first time I had an honest-to-God opportunity to bond with Finn, he had three needles screwed into his sweet, soft head.

Watchdog NICU nurses, our heroes, were urgently attending to his care while limiting the amount of time we could hang out with him in this space. Manage the variables until the threat is contained.

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on him, this little warrior who had barely learned to breathe oxygen outside of the womb. The first day he was in the NICU, while they were scrambling to decide whether he had an autoimmune crisis in his own body, or whether he was having a reaction to the environment in his mom’s womb (it was the latter), I was gifted a few precious moments to rock him in my arms while tests were being run in the lab, and while Mama and Papa were talking to doctors.

While we waited, we talked, he and I.

I may have been the only one using words, but I’m pretty sure we were both communicating. It’s as if the conversation had picked up somewhere in the middle, like we had already established the exposition of Finn’s story, and the inciting incident; and now that we stood facing the terrifying climax, secretly we both understood that the resolution had already been written. It would be okay.

I commended him for being willing to enter the world engaging instantly in this little hero’s journey.

He quietly pondered that for a while.

I reminded him that he was up to the challenge, in case he had already forgotten, but he seemed to understand; this was all part of his storyboard, the scaffolding for his his future, his imprint on the world. I knew he was special…already.

It was in his eyes. His little bald baby head was a perfect match for the look in his eyes, the look of an ancient wise man. I remember referring to him as Yoda, not so much because of the funny shape of his head but because of the light that seem to live behind those eyes. He looked like he already had amassed the wisdom of a 60 or 70 year old man, at only two days old.

He’s been my main man for three years now, and I’ve hoarded this delightful honor of being his daytime caregiver while Mama and Papa go to work as teachers everyday.

I’ve also learned more about deep love.

Notwithstanding our now-three-year-old Finn’s perfection overall…his razor sharp intellect, verbosity, sensitivity, high EQ and his undeniable dance skills (See my moves, Lala)… these are not the reasons I love him.

That-I-love-him may be the reason, however, that I see him.

Deep love isn’t the stuff of romance, chemistry, or happenstance; it’s the result of painstaking, committed investment. We pour love into our children and grandchildren, and it grows.

They break stuff or pee on it, flush valuables down the toilet, tell us to go away, insist vehemently on one-more-minute-of-whatever. They demand our relentless, devoted attention, give us three million reasons to worry about them, and throw unreasonable prompts at us to elicit the construction of improvisational storytelling that wears out every molecule of intellectual energy.

So where does this kind of deep love have its origin?

I’m not going to pretend I know the answer, but I have a theory.

It may come from holding someone’s tiny hand while he struggles to catch his breath.

It may come from cleaning up messes without being grouchy, rocking him lovingly and fearlessly when he has a desperately high fever.

Deep love may show up unexpectedly when he tells you a joke, and you laugh loudly and authentically.

It’s nurtured in an environment of consistency, of showing up, of listening when you’re tired, of coming when you’re called, of saying no when you know it will disappoint and forever diminish your superhero glow.

The thing about deep love, true love, is that it can be trusted, not because it’s magical but because it isn’t. It’s just investment, empathy, and commitment to see, really see, the person sitting in front of you.

And enjoy him.

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