True love can come in many guises and many forms. This week we lost Carrie Fisher and only a day later her mother Debbie Reynolds. Debbie was reported to have wished only to be with her daughter again. Heartbreaking but, as a parent, understandable. As parents it can be hard watching our children take their steps away from us on their own journey through life. We want to protect them. We want to stay with them and hold their hands. Debbie did not want her daughter to take this step alone. She had spent sixty years as her mother, through all the ups and downs of their relationship, loving her. She wanted to be with her little girl again…is there any truer love than this?
Their story got me thinking about love and all the many types of love there are in the world. Sometimes we glorify romantic relationships as the ultimate expression of true love. But true love can be found in many relationships and as this bond between mother and daughter has shown us it can be just as fulfilling, heartbreaking, frustrating and exhilirating as any romantic relationship.
There is an episode of the sitcom ‘Fraiser’ which has really struck a cord with me since becoming a mother. In this episode Roz has just learned that she is pregnant and, in an attempt to console her, Fraiser tells her that great secret — the one you only learn when you become a parent yourself — “Roz, I’m going to tell you something that I didn’t learn until I became a father. You don’t just love your children. You fall in love with them.”
The truth of this hit me only after I gave birth. You do fall head over heels in love. This love can come slowly or all of a sudden, it can creep up on you or swamp you completely all at once. But however fast or slow it takes to hit you, the love for your child will utterly change you. And perhaps we are not entirely prepared for it. Personally, the love I felt was initially buried under layers of anxiety and new mum angst. But every day I would fall deeper and deeper; the worst crush of my life. There is no going back or falling out of love this time. No matter if you are rejected or pushed aside. You are stuck; helplessly and completely in love.
True love. Its something we see every day but don’t always realise we are witnessing it. We see it in the gentle cooing of a mother rocking her newborn baby, a father holding his toddler’s hand, a parent leaving their child on that first day of school. We see it in the proud smiles on graduation day. The beams on a sun-filled wedding day.
If Debbie and Carrie have shown us anything (and they have both shown us so much during their lives) it’s that true love exists in the everyday of life. It doesn’t have to be a big, Romeo and Juliet style affair. It is in the simple love between a parent and their child.