Why do you love me?

When Baron died of old age, Greg said no more dogs.  We were all heartbroken at losing Baron and Greg had the unenviable duty of taking Baron to the vet at the end because I was and remain a self-confessed chicken*#$.  Since he was the responsible one, he had every right to say no more dogs.  It was too difficult.  Loving an animal and losing did not seem to be worth the pain.

And, the pain was real.  We would come home expecting Baron to race off the couch to greet us but there was only silence.  Sometimes, I heard the phantom jingle of his collar in the other room.  I gave away the remaining dog food and decided what to do with the grooming tools.  The leash was moved out of the hallway closet.  Dog bowls were no longer underfoot.  In many ways life was cleaner and easier.

Without that critter in our lives we didn't need to have dog-sitting services when we went away.  There was an element of freedom we hadn't experienced for thirteen years.  That's how long we loved Baron for.  And, we did love that crazy Wheaten Terrier.  He loved us back, I'm very sure.  He taught us things about loving each other, guarding what's precious, and enjoying life with abandon.  He loved us so much that I was determined we needed another dog especially when we bought the acreage.

Dogs and acreages go together, it made sense to me.  So, I began the lengthy and delicate negotiation with Greg of getting another dog.  Well, you know Kanti is that dog and if you have read any earlier blogs from her puppyhood you know Greg is besotted with her.  It would be fair to say he loves her.  Sometimes perceptive visitors ask whether he loves her more than me.  I have moments when I wonder the same.  But in fairness there's enough love to go around for both the gals in the house.

As adults, we forget how simple and inexplicable love is.  At least, I confess to that.  It's easy to get caught up thinking love must be earned.  That messaging is all around us every day.  We must be slim, we need to be a perfect weight, we should be successful...  You name it, it always includes a "to be" factor which in Brene Brown's work translates to shame because we have been led to believe we are never enough.  We walk around a society of love zombies, unable to recognize the sheer joy and beauty of love when it smacks us in the face.

Yes, love can smack you in the face.  It smacked me in the face after we had been away for three weeks.  We had the family over for Sunday supper when we returned.   Sunday supper is a combination of squealing little people, chattering big people, and a couple of exuberant dogs opportunistically charging through the door if anyone opens it a crack.  The circular running track that loops between the front door, kitchen, dining room and living room usually has two small boys and at least one of those dogs on it for portions of the evening.  When we designed the house we thought about entertaining. We made sure there was room for a large table to accommodate family dinner, but we didn't consider the running track or how the noise of excited boys chasing a German Shepherd would echo in the open concept.  There were no little boys or German Shepherd in our lives when we designed the house, we only had the idea that maybe we'd be blessed with grandchildren sometime.

On that Sunday, we had polished off dinner and we were onto dessert with grandson, JMH, sitting on my knee to eat his ice cream.  The little boat he had been given was sitting on the table, anchored between cutlery and crumpled napkins.  Conversations were percolating up and down the table, when JMH turned his head to me and asked, "Nana, why did you buy me a boat?"

We had a little chat about how Nana had been away on a big boat so I thought that it would be a good present.  He thought for a while, then repeated his question, "Nana, why did you buy me a boat?"

This time, I needed another answer.  I realized that I had brought presents home because I loved the people who would be receiving them.  I simply said, "Because I love you."

"Why do you love me?" was the next question.  And, it quite literally stopped me.  Psychologically, physically, and emotionally.

Why?  Why, did I love this wonderful little person who was not afraid to ask a question that adults would fear to ask?  After catching my breath, I said the first thing my scrambling brain could come up with, "Because you are mine."

That answer was laced with power.  The power of belonging and being enough sat in that answer.  JMH did not need to do anything or behave a certain way to earn our love, he simply had to be.  Love so simple and mysterious, was right under my nose.  I thought that is how our Creator loves us.  I have been processing the interaction with my grandson all week.  This morning I woke up with the song from Dirty Dancing, Do You Love Me, going through my head.  Yes, that's a little bit of a veer to the left from Creator talk, but stay with me.  The song is catchy and I'll bet some of you end up hearing it yourself today just because I mentioned it!  But, here's the thing.  Do you love me - is the wrong question.  The question we all need to ask and answer for one another is - why do you love me?

When the answer to the why is no longer superficial, when it stops hinging on how someone looks, behaves, or makes us feel, then we have figured out the mystery and we can revel in the joy of love.  It's a scary question to ask, but try it on someone today and let me know how it goes.  Here's to loving one another just because.