Love. It’s a small innocuous word. Trite sounding even. Only four letters. Only two vowels. Its structure is simple, not even any descenders (those tails on letters such as y and p). I have love, share love, receive love and am in love. Nothing comes close to describing the vastness, the depth, the impact of love on life. Love on life. Sounds like a topping.

Mate is also a four-letter word. Two vowels, no descenders. Husband is possessive; spouse is technical; better-half indicates erroneously that I am less than a whole. If I were a folk singer he’d be my old man, but I can’t carry a tune.

What do I call the person with whom I share my soul? The one who bathes me with the warmth of his eyes. The one who challenges my intellect and electrifies my spirit. The one who thrills me with his passion. Partner, lover, the chosen one, the only one.

I have always been a romantic. I believe in knights in shining armor and castles in the air and the kind of love that makes you swoon. Through rusty armor and crumbling houses, through broken hearts and passionless intimacies, I have always known that there could exist a bond, a melding of spirit and soul and flesh that transcends the scope of mere four-letter words with no descenders. And such a bond has found me.

The only one, for I can’t imagine that there would be another. I don’t know what I’ve done in life to receive such a gift of love. An unconditional, total surrender of self to another. I am taken totally. I am wooed, wowed and overcome with this entity between he and I.

The only one with whom I can rise above the petty elements of the day and escape the damage so often inflicted by familiarity.

The only one I trust with my soul because he will nurture it long after my flesh is gone.

I once thought great love was in large part about great sex. Now I know great sex is in large part about great love.

What can I say to the one who can bring me to tears with his tenderness? The one who sends shock waves through my spine when he walks through the gate? The one who envelopes me in the essences of life? I love with-only-four-letters-and-no-descenders you? It isn’t enough.

Saying he is the perfect mate doesn’t mean he lacks flaws as a homo sapien. It means we are perfect for one another. It means I am whole because of what he gives me. It means I am so much more than I otherwise would have been because he believes in me. It means I am sharper because he challenges my ideas with the sharpness of his own. It means I am stronger because he lends me his strength. It means I am filled with a zest for life because he shares his with me. It means I have so much more to give because he replenishes my well of compassion and caring. No doubt he would say the same of me.

I am loved for who I am, faults and all. I was once loved for who I could be. I was once loved for who I would be—when another mate finished reconstructing me. It wasn’t me who was loved at all, but the idea of me.

Most people are content. Some are happy. Few are enveloped with the intensity of a passion so complete it occupies every moment, every cell, every beat.

Robert Frost said it better than I: “The heart can show no devotion greater than being shore to the ocean.” It’s an image that I carried long before I was a shore to someone’s ocean. Both necessary to the creation of the other. Neither stronger nor weaker than the other but matched as equal partners in existence. One fluid, the other responding to the motion without fear or threat. Two separate entities but the edges indefinable without the other. It is not give and take, no, nothing quite so measured or counted. It is a state of constant movement—in response, in answer, in challenge, in knowing. There is comfort in its constancy. Like the ocean guided by the lunar cycle, lovers are drawn, gazing at the moon. Ah, moon, another four-letter word with two vowels and no descenders, but so much less complex than love.

Originally published in The Good Life magazine

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