Last Sunday I visited my old church meetinghouse. It’s the building I first walked into with my high school boyfriend. The building I was later baptized in. And the building where I still find much solace and peace. After Sacrament Meeting came to a close, I stood, stretched and saw a familiar face a few pews ahead. It was somewhat different, of course. Tears of happiness and pain do that. Years do that too.
As I made my way forward, I wondered if I was so different than I was then. If he’d want to see me. Or if he’d rather leave the past there. In the past. But I wanted to see him. I had wanted to see him for some time.
When we were younger, my heart spoke loudly, but my mouth never echoed its song out loud. Hurt and pain stayed because I allowed them to. Deception stayed too. And despite forgiving him long ago, I had wanted to see him. To see if I had truly forgiven. To see if I had healed my wounds with the salve of my own heart. And my own truth.
After niceties were exchanged, we sat for a while. He told me about his families: the one he’d been born into and the one he’d created. And he asked about mine. We talked at length about high school. How he’d been lost, which I had known, and how he was sorry for the way he treated me, which I hadn’t. And I felt like I should say something then. Perhaps that I was sorry too. But he continued on. So I didn’t.
When he smiled, I couldn’t help but remember how I’d felt all those years ago. How first love strikes when you least expect. How it feels like netting stars and swallowing the sun. And how you are convinced. So convinced. It will never end.
But it nearly always does.
My first love ended. And when it did I was inconsolable. I didn’t understand how we shared so much and then shared nothing. How I was no longer the other half of the WE we had been. How it was just me. Alone.
Eventually, I understood the need to close that door. And the need to walk forward and open another. Then another. Eventually, I understood that odds are good we could have never made each other happy. And more importantly: that just because you share the past with someone, doesn’t mean you’ll share the future with them.
And that it’s okay not to. It really is.
There’s a reason it’s called first love. Because there’s supposed to be a second and a third until you learn what love really is. And what it isn’t.
Love is giving your last cherry Jolly Rancher and taking the burnt piece of toast.
Love is putting the lid down.
Love is picking up dog poop. Even though you don’t own a dog, but do own a lawn.
Love is sharing the fluffy pillow.
Love is watching hockey instead of Criminal Minds. Only to realize hockey is better.
Love is reaching for your hand when drifting off to sleep.
Love is taking the trash out before dawn.
Love is making sure you put toothpaste on both brushes. And always kissing goodnight.
Love is all the little things…
that make up a life.
So now, when I think about my first love, I’ll think about this one thing:
I’m happy he broke my heart.
Because it led me to The One who would rather break his own than break mine.
And that is what real love is all about.