It takes a long time to love someone. It's hard enough to even find out what love is.

During the first half of my life, I didn't give love much thought. I wasn't a bad kid; in fact, looking back, I guess I was an okay guy, a decent friend, a fairly good son and an attentive boyfriend; not bad for someone without direction or counsel. But at age twenty-three, even after three years of intentional and deliberate searching, I still couldn't practice personal love. I could recognize and somewhat understand spiritual and universal love; but not that one-to-one relationship love that needs to be nurtured each hour of each day.

It was different with my kids. Somehow kids are easy to love unconditionally; but I didn't know how to give my first wife the love she deserved, and for this I am heartily sorry. In terms of love, I suppose I was still a lost soul when she left. Then I got so busy trying to make ends meet and organize all the details of single-parenthood, that love became a distant entity about which I could only occasionally dream.

But dreams did come, and words began to flow -- explanations, descriptions, instructions, meanings, reflections; and by the time I met Aubrey, I had finally caught a glimpse of love -- love for a companion. Aubrey loved me all the while, and like the velveteen rabbit, I became real. I learned trust, kindness and compassion. Now, when I see Aubrey off in the field, I think, sometimes out loud, that I love her; then I go to her and tell her so. I want to be near her always; no one could ever take her place; I'd be devastated if anything ever came between us. It's taken a long time, but I now know what love is and I'm not afraid to use it.


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