A Love Story

love

The word ‘love’ gets bandied about these days with wanton abandon.  We ‘love’ cheesecake, I ‘love’ that dress, he ‘loves’ to watch sport.  It’s proof enough that the English language cannot truly convey what the word ‘love’ really means.

We hear the word ‘love’ all the time

Love is all around us, love lifts us up were we belong, all we need is love, love is a many splendid thing, I’d do anything for love, it must have been love, I want to know what love is, love will keep us together, I can’t help falling in love with you, can you feel the love tonight

But does the frequency diminish the value?

Sanskrit has 96 words for love; ancient Persian has 80, Greek three, and English only one. This is indicative of the poverty of awareness or emphasis that we give to that tremendously important realm of feeling. Eskimos have 30 words for snow, because it is a life-and-death matter to them to have exact information about the element they live with so intimately. If we had a vocabulary of 30 words for love … we would immediately be richer and more intelligent in this human element so close to our heart. An Eskimo probably would die of clumsiness if he had only one word for snow; we are close to dying of loneliness because we have only one word for love. Of all the Western languages, English may be the most lacking when it comes to feeling.” – Robert Johnson, “The Fisher King and the Handless Maiden

I am not going to extol the virtues of words and list all 80 of the ancient Persian words for love (although I do appreciate language), instead, I want to tell you a love story.

My son is just over a month away from turning 21 years old and towards the end of last year he got married.  He met his now wife through work and they dated for a short time before deciding to get engaged.  My husband and I were thrilled, she is a wonderful girl and the perfect match for our son.

Now you may think that this is a normal courtship, but you don’t know the whole story.  What makes this different is that my son’s wife is sick.  She was born with Cystic Fibrosis.  CF is the most commonly occurring, genetically acquired, life shortening chronic illness affecting young Australians today.  CF affects many of the body’s systems including lungs and digestion.  There is no cure.  To learn more about CF, click here.

My daughter-in-law is a brave and strong person.  She has lived her life to the full, never allowing her illness to hold her back.  Up until about 18 months ago she was managing her CF well and most people would never even know she had it, but not long after she met my son, her health started to decline.

As my son and daughter-in-law courted, she slowly got sicker and they were eventually faced with the prospect of a double lung transplant.  The engagement party we were planning turned into a surprise wedding as they made the decision to get married before she would need the operation.

tomkari

My beautiful, wonderful and sweet daughter-in-law, out of love for my son, gave him many opportunities to leave her and my son chose time and again to stay by her side.  To see these two young people navigate their way through the minefield of love was both inspiring and heartbreaking.

They have now been married for six months and my daughter-in-law has had to spend a lot of that in hospital and she is a high priority on the transplant list…it is just a matter of time now.

As a mother I have stood back and watched as my son has grown into a man.  To see this soft-hearted young man, who has never really had to face adversity growing up, walk this road has made my heart burst with pride.  He not only wants to be a strong and supportive partner, but he also wants to help make a difference for others who suffer with CF.

City2South  CF Queensland

Just this last weekend, we had the privilege of watching him compete in a fun run to raise money for CF Queensland.  He knows that there is not much he can do to physically help his wife, but he can help to raise awareness and much needed funds to find a cure and he is more than willing to do what he can.

This is love.  This is the kind of love that says, “I value you above myself”.  These two young people have shown more love for one another than a lot of marriages ever show. ‘Love’ is more than a word for them, it is their world.  I don’t think the simple word ‘love’ can fully encompass the depth and breadth of what I have seen displayed between them, it really needs ninety-six words.

agape

 

If you would like to donate to help CF Queensland you can do it here

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No Reservations

I am home, sick, today, snuggled up on the couch watching television. I am watching Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, a food/travel show. He is in Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua…I didn’t even know where that was (Central America for those of you who are ignorant like me). I happen to start watching the show in the middle of it where he visits La Chureca, the city dump.
The incredible thing about this place is that people live there and they sort through the garbage to find food for their families. The sort through industrial and medical waste to retrieve food. They live there, building homes out of refuse, sorting through garbage to find things that can be recycled and sold to support their families.
It really made me think. It made me think about how I live, how I eat. I live in Australia where you need to adhere to very strict regulations to sell food. Our food is sanitised to within an inch of its life. People don’t buy an apple or banana if it has a blemish or a bruise on it. People get upset if there is a single strand of hair in their food. But these people were eating food that had been thrown away amongst industrial and medical waste.
Australians throw away $8 BILLION worth of food every year. 20%-40% of fresh fruit and vegetables are rejected before they even reach the shops because of cosmetic reasons…perfectly fine food thrown away because it doesn’t look right. How do you reconcile this waste with the amount of hunger in the world…the amount of hunger in our own country?
I have always believed that to have a roof over your head and food in your stomach is the very basics of human rights. I am a feeder…I get joy out of feeding other people. I love to see people eating and enjoying the food I prepare for them and when I see things like this, I just want to do something, I want to feed the world.
My daughter-in-law suffers from Cystic Fibrosis and as such, food and nutrition are extremely important for her. She is currently in hospital and the food she is being served is pathetic. Over processed, over cooked, reconstituted gruel. How can our health system feed our most vulnerable people such substandard food? I have heard of a study that was done that showed the health and nutrition of children with Cystic Fibrosis declined while they were in hospital. The food is so bad in the hospital where my daughter-in-law is that she won’t eat it and we try to provide as many homemade meals as we can. We need a food revolution in our hospitals similar to the one that Jamie Oliver did in the schools.
We are a country of contradictions. On one hand we have the most vulnerable people in our society being given substandard food and on the other hand we have 450,000 garbage trucks worth of food being thrown away – 33% of which is FRESH FOOD. We have a national campaign aimed at getting people to reduce their intake of fast food, and yet we are feeding those in our hospitals with food that is no better than that.
Food is such an integral part of our lives, but we take it for granted. I ask you, today, to think about the food that you eat and the food you throw away. Maybe it won’t make a difference, but maybe it will inspire someone, somewhere.

food

Lost

lost

When I was a little girl I went to the zoo with my family and another family. It was a lovely day except for one little hiccup that has stayed with me for my life…I got lost. Well, technically, I didn’t get lost, my family lost me. You see, we had sat down for lunch after spending the morning wandering through the zoo and looking at all the animals. It was a delight for a child like me who saw wonder in everything. It was a nice day, sunny but not too hot. We had a picnic in a little park inside the zoo just near the elephant enclosure. I had finished my lunch and while I was waiting for everyone else to finish, I decided to go and take one more look at the elephants. The enclosure was not very far away, in fact you could see it from where we were sitting in the park. I can’t remember if I told anyone I was going or not (in my mind I think I did, but I cannot be sure), but off I went, secure in the knowledge that they wouldn’t leave without me. I was wrong. We I returned to the park, my family had gone. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t panic, I don’t think I even cried, I just remember walking to the bench where they had been sitting only moments before and sitting down to wait. I think a couple of old ladies came over to ask me if I was ok, but by then my mum had realised I wasn’t with the group and had come back for me. I wasn’t lost for very long and I don’t think I have been scarred by the experience, but I do remember feeling very, very alone. A feeling that has been plaguing me for the last couple of months.
There has been a lot of upheaval in my life and the life of my family recently. My eldest son got married and moved out and then only four months later, my youngest son moved to the UK. I found myself alone in my house. Yes, I have my husband and I have my dog and my cat, but my children are gone and it has left a hole in my life. The same feeling I felt when I returned to the park to find my family gone.
For the past five years, my husband and I have owned businesses (plural) and we have had to work very hard and very long hours. When I am not at work working, I am working at home. Consequently I have had no social life. Having to get up at 4am puts a bit of a damper of any evening activities and I work every weekend. Getting together with friends has been very few and far between. The inevitable has happened, I have become a hermit with barely any outside world contact. As I look around at my life, I discover that the world has passed me by. I am once again a lonely little girl sitting on a park bench all alone.
Is this what my life has become? I have only just turn forty-one years of age and my children have grown and gone. My dedication to work has meant that I have no social life and I am left wondering “who am I?” I don’t even know myself anymore, I don’t know where I fit, where I belong or what my role is. I have had a quote going through my brain constantly

What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul

While I have not gained the whole world, I have pursued it, and while I don’t believe I have lost my soul, I do believe I have lost something; I have lost myself.
When I was in high school my English teacher made us read a science fiction book called “The Ship Who Sang”. It was set in a futuristic earth where babies that were born severely physically disabled, but with fully functioning brains, could be turned into cyborgs rather than be euthanized. This meant that they were encapsulated within a machine from a very young age and grew up to become a living robot of sorts. Their brain functioned as the brain of whatever machine they are put into. I hated the book (probably one of the very few books that I have ever hated, Flowers for Algernon was another one, also from the same English teacher) but I am reminded of it these days as I am increasingly feeling like the only presence I have in this world is via technology.
I know that this is a season in my life. I am, in a way, grieving for my empty nest, which I assume is something most mothers of adult children go through. I also know that I won’t always have to work this hard, but my question is, what will be left when this season ends?

 

Disclaimer: While I didn’t enjoy these books as a teenager, there may be a chance that I would quite enjoy them today.  I haven’t read them since highschool and the opinion within this blog post is my teenage opinion.