what is love

I’ve been sweating over a Valentine’s post for weeks now.

I tried to write about the heart and it’s precarious balance of fragility and will. It became a daunting task.

I tried to recall the loves of my life. I imagined a sweet and gentle stroll down memory lane. But that jaunt was quickly paved with sharp, crushed shards of my poor little heart. I realized I don’t have the words, the will or the hours to catalog the crushes, the kisses, the failed flirtations, and the many cringe worthy moments of my romantic  past.

So, stuck again,  I just started thinking about love.

What is love? It’s not just the failed romance in bad 80’s pop songs. It’s not only the burning fire of Johnny Cash. It can be patient and kind as the Bible tells us. But it’s unique to each of us. We all have our own versions of what love is to us…what it should be.
So, for this special day set aside to celebrate love, I will share what love is to me…

Love is memories of mom singing foreign lullabies and making up bedtime tales of wild adventures. Laughing while being tickled on dads lap until the threat of peeing on him came true. It’s pretending to be asleep so I’d be carried up to bed at 6 years old…held strong and tight. It’s sleeping on the floor of your parents bedroom so if the boogeyman comes in you’ll be protected. Being thrilled and terrified watching scary movies with your big brother – secure that you have each others backs. No matter what.

Love is posters of rock stars covered in lipstick. It’s puppy love, secret crushes and messy kisses. Love is the first time your heart fills to bursting. The first time it breaks apart. Love is passion and butterflies. Hopeless devotion and frustration. Love is knowing when to say goodbye.

Love is honest. It’s equal friendships. Coffee dates. Bitch sessions. Quick texts that it’s all going to be ok. It’s a willingness to drive miles. To listen for hours. To support and cheer on. Love is unwavering loyalty.

Love is fuzzy and non judgmental. It’s dog tags and rabies shots. Nuzzles and nips. Playing catch. Long walks.  Chewed up sneakers. Pure heart.

Love is true. It’s building a home. Paint colors and unfinished projects. It’s compromises. Staying up all night. And sleeping in all morning. It’s broken dishes. Tax returns. It’s hard work. Commitment. A balance of freedom…of being yourself. It’s swimming in cool water under the hot summer sun. Watching the news next to the wood stove. Falling asleep on the couch…a strong hand on your back.

Love is selfless. It’s wiping the salty tears streaming from big blue eyes down soft cherub cheeks. It’s messy kitchens and dirty laundry. Chasing fingerprints through the house. Singing old lullabies anew. Tickle monsters and tree houses. Spit up stains on your favorite sweater. Love is stern voices and time outs. It’s fresh air and endless laughter. Baseball gloves. Science projects. Tracked in snow. It’s skinned knees and a split eyebrow. Sweet chocolate smiles and fierce goodnight hugs. Love is never-ending worry. It’s stunning pride. It’s acceptance.
Love is stepping back. Looking forward. Holding on. Letting go.

Alas, love is so very complicated.

Yet, once found…so very simple, indeed.

Happy Valentine’s Day.



  1. Olivia

    What great writing you do Marlies! This touched my heart. Speaking of love, I love and miss you old friend! Keep writing. Let’s catch up soon? Been way too long indeed. Happy❤️ Day to you!

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