It was not until my high school years that my father talked to me of love. By that time, of course, I had succumbed to my fair share of crushes, passions, and fascinations (including one young girl who treated me so ill that I carved “LD” into the sole of my boot, that I might grind her initials into the dust with every step I took.)
By my sixteenth winter, though, the tenor of my heart had grown beyond such childish attitudes and sought more meaningful relations. One girl in particular had affected me deeply, and though my feelings were built of fragile glass, it was my first true adult love and I felt it as deeply and soberly as I was able. The day it all crashed down, the day that I at last admitted to myself the futility of my unrequited suit, I retreated to the blue shadows of my downstairs room, threw myself upon my bed, and wept.
Hours later, after I’d grown quiet, my father came downstairs and knocked upon my door. He came in, sat on the edge of the bed and, unexpectedly, he asked me about the girl: who was she? how did I feel about her?
I told him all.
When I was done, he did not try to cheer me up. He did not say I would “get over it” or that there were other fish in the sea. He did not tell me that the pain I felt was just a phase or that it was anything less than love. What he told me was:
“When your heart gets broken, it’s bigger when it heals, and the next time you fall in love, it will be deeper and stronger than the time before.”
This has proven true. Each time that I have loved it’s been the deepest, strongest, greatest thing I’ve known. Each time, the newer love puts former passions all to shame for pallid renderings of true adoration. And each time, I wonder if before I ever loved at all. The dark side of this lesson, though, is that with deeper love comes the risk of greater pain, but if not for love, what else is worth the risk?