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What Love Is

I heard a song today, “I Try” by Angela Bofill, that I loved when I was 19. All about love breaking your heart, how you try to be what he wants and it still isn’t enough, because he doesn’t care that he holds your heart.

I still like the song. But it made me realize how much my ideas have changed since then, and reminded me of two real-life stories that, to me, show what true love really is.

In January 2007, a 65-year-old California woman and her 70-year-old husband were hiking when the man was attacked by a mountain lion. The woman fought the cougar off by sticking a pen in its eye, beating it with a stick she picked up, and screaming at it. The man suffered serious scalp and facial wounds, but survived to take the 40th-anniversary trip to Hawaii with his wife that they had planned—just a little delayed.

At the time, I thought, “That’s who you want to be married to—a woman who, when the mountain lion attacks, is going to do anything and everything she can to save you.” And then, last year, I heard a sadder story that drove the point home even more. In November 2012, in Midland, Texas, a parade float carrying wounded veterans and their wives was hit by a train, killing four servicemen. Two of those men, as the last act of their lives, shoved their wives off the float as the train was bearing down.

When I read that, I thought, that’s what real love is. Real love is when the most basic human emotion of all, the survival instinct, is overridden by the need to protect somebody whose life matters even more to you than your own. Parents feel that way about their children—I don’t think there are many mothers or fathers whose first reaction, when danger threatens, isn’t to shield their kids. But if you’re lucky enough to feel that way about your husband, or to know that he feels that way about you? You are lucky indeed, because that’s what it means to truly love.

Real love isn’t adolescent agonizing, breaking up in storms of tears and then making up in ecstasy. It isn’t a fantasy wedding day, wearing a white gown with a long train, having all eyes on you. True love is knowing, to the bottom of your soul, that you would die fighting that mountain lion to save the life of the man you love. And knowing that he would spend his last moment on earth pushing you off that float to save yours.

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Helene Komoda
Helene Komoda
7 years ago

I am so blessed to know that we would do anything to assure the well being of each other

MJ Guidry
MJ Guidry
7 years ago

What a lovely essay! Thank the heavens above that I AM married to such a person and have known it for almost 36 years! I’m truly blessed.

You made me cry. ;)

Mary from Boise

Chanpreet
Chanpreet
7 years ago

What a beautiful blog post. I recall reading about both events and bawling my eyes out over the latter. You’re absolutely right about what true love is. It’s important to remember that.

Rosalind James
Rosalind James
7 years ago
Reply to  Chanpreet

Thank you so much.

Julia
Julia
7 years ago

I vividly remember both of these events widely covered on network news. Both incidents are true examples of real love. It is so nice to know that others, especially writers, know the difference between real love and the over zealous infatuation which unfortunately is all too often displayed on television and mass media. Thank you for pointing out the difference.

Rosalind James
Rosalind James
7 years ago
Reply to  Julia

Thank you. I appreciate it.

Joan V.
Joan V.
7 years ago

A little late to this party; but I wanted to thank you for this blog post. It brought tears to my eyes because you really did say it very well. Many of us may not have found this type of love; but it’s what we all wish for and why we read romance books.

Rosalind James
Rosalind James
7 years ago
Reply to  Joan V.

Thank you. I really appreciate it.

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