I believe in Big Love.
I talk and I date like I don’t.
I don’t have frivolous expectations for romance. I’m not looking to get swept off my feet. I am one of those rare, perhaps slightly jaded individuals who actually likes hookup culture and is happy to live in an age in which monogamy is not necessarily the norm.
But I believe in big love because I’ve had it.
I’ve had that massive love. That all-consuming love. That ‘I can’t believe this exists in the physical realm of this planet’ kind of love.
The kind of love that erupts into an uncontrollable blaze an then simmers down to embers and burns quietly, comfortably, for years. The kind of love they write novels and symphonies about. The kind of love that teaches more than you thought you could ever learn, and gives back infinitely more than it takes.
It is the ‘Love of your life’ kind of love.
And believe it works like this:
If you’re lucky, you get to meet the love of your life. You get to be with them, to learn from them, to give the whole of yourself over to them and allow their influence to change you in unfathomable measures. It’s an experience like nothing else we have on this earth.
But here is what the fairytales won’t tell you – sometimes we meet the loves of our lives, but we do not get to keep them.
We do not get to marry them, to pass our years alongside them, to hold their hands on their deathbeds after a life lived well and together.
We do not always get to hold onto the loves of our lives, because in the real world, love doesn’t conquer all. It doesn’t resolve irreparable differences, it doesn’t triumph over illness and disease, it doesn’t bridge religious rifts or save us from ourselves when we’re corrupting.
We don’t always get to hold onto the loves of our lives because sometimes love is not all that there is. Sometimes you want a tiny country home with three kids and they want a bustling career in the city. Sometimes you have a whole, wide world to go explore and they are scared to venture out of their backyard. Sometimes you have bigger dreams than one another.
Sometimes the biggest, most loving move you can possibly make is to let each other go.
Other times you don’t get a choice.
But here’s another thing they won’t tell you about finding the love of your life: not ending up with them doesn’t disqualify their significance.
Some people can love you more in a year than others could love you in fifty. Some people can teach you more within a single day than others could teach you over the entire course of a lifetime.
Some people come into our lives only for a particular period of time, but make an impact that no one else can ever quite match or replace.
And who are we to call those people anything but the loves of our lives?
Who are we to downplay their significance, to rewrite their memories, to alter the ways in which they changed us for the better, simply because our paths diverged? Who are we to decide that we desperately need to replace them – to find a bigger, better, stronger, more passionate love that we can hold onto for a lifetime?
Maybe we just ought to be grateful that we got to meet these people at all.
That we got to love them. That we got to learn from them. That we got to have our lives expand and flourish as a result of having known them.
Meeting and letting go of the love of your life doesn’t have to be your life's single greatest tragedy.
If you let it, it can be your greatest blessing.
After all, some people never get to meet them at all.
Get your copy of Heidi Priebe’s debut poetry collection, The First New Universe, here.
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