I have been thinking a lot recently about the phrase “the love of my life”. I hear the concept frequently, in music, conversation, and stories. It denotes exclusivity and a hierarchy where one stands out above all others we have loved as the most meaningful, unique, and special. This goes along with an idealized view of love wherein there is only one connection in an entire lifespan that is the “real” one. Dropping this mythical standard and objectively looking at the way relationships really work, I see that the loves in my life do not exist in relativity to one another. There are many, they are different, and they are all the loves of my life.
My daughters are now 14 and 18; I have spent the better part of two decades being their mom. I have written before about how much I am in awe of them (“Thing One and Thing Two”). Like every parent, my love for them is all-consuming, piercing, and deep beyond measure. As much as my own parents shaped me, those girls are integral to who I am; their happiness makes me happy. Their sadness breaks my heart. They are the loves of my life.
My sisters are my best friends (yes, another flawed superlative, but it makes the point). I have written before about “The Triad”, and what they mean to my life. Our shared origin begets a sublime comprehension of one another. They are an unwavering source of comfort to me. The three of us see each other completely, without filter, and the unconditional acceptance between us is a permanent oasis in the scary unforgiving world. They are the loves of my life.
In my late teens and early twenties, I had a volatile relationship with a boy from my home town. We lost our boundaries and became inextricably connected. The relationship was unworkable in the long term because of its intensity and our inability to co-exist without extreme drama. The heart break when we parted ways was excruciating. Even though that was more than 20 years ago, thoughts of him still send my heart fluttering. I will love him always, even if I never see him again. He is the love of my life.
I spent 18 years with my ex-husband, and in many ways we grew up together. We built a life, had two kids, and had innumerable happy times together. As our marriage ran its course, we were able to create separate lives while maintaining an enduring friendship; we continue to cheer each other on along our respective paths. Ending a marriage is painful, and I regret the hurt we had to go through to get here. He is an amazing person, the father of my children, and he is the love of my life.
Today, I live with a life partner, and we have very little in common on the surface. He is a musician and a soft-spoken dreamer; a contrast to my logic-driven, black and white tendencies. The time we spend together is fulfilling and fun. Our differences give our relationship texture and intrigue, and I learn immensely from seeing the world through his eyes. We support each other constantly even without always fully identifying with each other’s direction. We reflect the best in each other. He is the love of my life.
I have always been surrounded by an abundance of wonderful people, and I am grateful the love that has graced my life. Co-workers, friends, running partners, and even family members have come and gone over the years, with connections ebbing and flowing as they naturally do. Some of those have become lasting bonds that I will always hold on to. They are all the loves of my life.