Celine Dion said it best when she sang, ‘Near- far- wherever you are- I believe that- the heart will- go on-' And it does. Bodies are temporary, yet love is eternal. A life may end, but emotions never stop. A character in my upcoming novel, WISH ME TOMORROW, said, "I love you more than I can say. My body might quit, but this,” he tapped his chest, “is yours. Forever.”We love those we’ve lost in the PRESENT TENSE. Love is an unstoppable force, and like energy, it can never be destroyed.
My very first experience with loving someone after they’d passed happened in middle school. My cat, Courtney, gave birth to three perfect kittens. I washed and held them before she so much as got a tongue on them. Best of all, my parents let me choose one for my own- Oreo- whom I named for her black fur and white belly. I adored her for all of her irreverent ways, like the collection of couch fluff she hoarded and snacked on under my bed, her insatiable need to lick anything shiny, and the joy she took from leaping into paper grocery bags then rearing up to scare us when we reached for another item. Yet it was her preference for snoozing on warm asphalt that was the death of her. Despite my shouts, my mother backed her car out of the driveway and killed a napping Oreo instantly. I couldn’t accept her death. For weeks, I followed my routine of waking in the middle of the night and opening the back door to call for her. Yet I knew she rested under our willow tree, her shoebox coffin packed with couch fluff. My love for Oreo has never stopped. Yet, like all hearts, mine’s expanded to love several more, unforgettable pets.
Another inspiring example of enduring love occurred when I moved into my neighborhood twelve years ago. At a welcome party, a lovely eight-year-old introduced herself by saying, “Hi, I’m Meghan and my best friend lives in heaven.” I returned her smile, shocked but touched, and asked her more about her friend. Her friend, Chelsea, had died of cancer a few months ago. Despite the loss, Meghan said she felt lucky that she was best friends with an angel and told me that she talked to her every night in her prayers. It melted my heart. For someone so young, this beautiful child had learned what we adults know, that our feelings don’t change when the one we love has passed from this world. I've watched with admiration and pride over the years as Meghan's worked tirelessly to raise thousands of dollars for Chelsea's Rainbow, a charity created by her family.
My neighbors, Marty and Kathy, however, are the ultimate example of love conquering all and the inspiration for WISH ME TOMORROW. They met as RN candidates in an anatomy and physiology class. Marty was the strong one, who took charge of a pig dissection while Kathy filled in lab sheets and peaked between her fingers. Yet soon it would be Kathy’s turn to make a courageous choice. Marty was diagnosed with Leukemia and expected that he and Kathy would break up when he shared the news. To his surprise, not only did Kathy stay with him, she cared for him during his treatments, helped him keep up with school work, and lifted his spirits by rarely leaving his side. Since they’d only dated two months before his diagnosis, it was more than Marty had dreamed possible. By their graduation, they’d fallen deeply in love and married soon thereafter. Twenty years later, Marty is cancer free and they have three beautiful children and a loving marriage that’s an inspiration to all that know them. Marty says that Kathy is the strongest woman he knows and I agree.
Thank goodness for Kathy, and brave people like her, who give their hearts freely to those who need love the most. Staying with someone who is ill, caring for them regardless of the future, loving them long after they’re gone, doesn’t give you a medal for bravery, but it should. If I could design it, the badge would read THE HEART WILL GO ON. It would be a testimony to the strength and willing sacrifice we make to stand by those we love, in good times and bad- knowing that no loss is final as long as love endures.
Please share your thoughts, stories, or a dedication to someone who is gone but always with you. Comment below and be entered for this week’s giveaway, a copy of Margot Early’s beautiful Heartwarming A LITTLE LEARNING about a widower who learns to share his heart again, friendship bracelets from me to you, and an autographed bookmark for my Young Adult romance CAMP BOYFRIEND with a scan code on the back to download the series prequel CAMP KISS for free. I will announce the winner here and on my facebook page www.facebook.com/JKRockwriters . Thank you for your courage in sharing your stories!