Heaven Is A Place On Earth
When you look into someone’s eyes and see love there… it’s an extraordinary feeling. When you love them back it’s heavenly. But then, to look into once expressive eyes and see no recognition or emotion is desolating. I have loved Bob Bolton for what seems like my whole life: if I could have dreamed up the perfect man for myself it is him. He’s stubborn, handsome, vital, irrepressible, child-like, clever, loyal, loving, stubborn again – and I adored him from the first moment he kissed me. That’s all it took, and I knew something seismic had happened.
At times I saw impatience in his eyes, and irritation and all the other things we unconsciously express when we share our lives with someone, but his affection was never in question. Could I possibly be that lucky? To find one other that loves you faults and all; to be cherished even though you know (in my case), or suspect, you’re not particularly wonderful?
Was at a funeral service today and, whilst not religious in the traditional sense, I like to be reminded that none of us are perfect: we can have the grace to forgive ourselves and others, and that doing so brings us closer to the core of what most religions preach: tolerance and love. But the difference between ‘being in love’ and loving someone is, well, the difference. I’ve heard parents say they ‘fall in love’ with their children, and I can understand that; but falling in love with someone you’re not related to – that’s a different animal. It’s frightening and humbling – here is someone who has the power to reduce you to ashes – but if it survives it becomes the most enabling and influential thing in your world.
I would see Bob walk into a room and my heart would flip over: almost thirty years into our time together and he could reduce me to a puddle just by looking at me. Our relationship didn’t have the most auspicious start but it went from strength to strength somehow. I came to love his family, and they – I believe – grew fond of me. Their support ever since his injury has been unstinting and I couldn’t have survived without it.
Once, in St James’s, the Chaplain came in and asked if she could pray with us. I was hopeful of recovery so took every ounce of help offered. Some of her first words were ‘… and your wife’s love surrounding you, pouring out of her…’, and that’s how it seemed: maybe we believe if we love someone enough it will make everything all right. Maybe in a way it does, because I didn’t give up fighting for him when even I admitted it was not going to work.
It’s five years tomorrow since Bob’s injury. Where I once was hopeful of recovery, I am no more. However, my blessings – as always – are many, and I can’t adequately express my gratitude to all the gorgeous human beings who have held me up when I was falling down.