I’d bought the li’l framed knicknack at a dollar store years ago. Stuck it on my dresser. Looked at it every day. Absorbed its message, or so I thought.
“Love never fails.” If I were a biblical scholar, I would have realized that this is often translated other ways. If I were astute, I would have remembered hearing these other translations now and then. If I were only fractionally less spacey, I would have noticed that the remainder of that passage makes a big big big point of the ephemeral nature of prophesies, tongues, knowledge — basically everything in the world besides love.
But, well. I’m not any of those things.
“Love never fails.” So I had always interpreted this line as a testimony to the illuminating power of love, its ability to prevail over darkness. I believed this even though my own love hadn’t prevailed against the darkness that took my sister and my husband. I loved and loved and loved them. I tried and tried and tried.
Suicide tests our faith in everything, most of all the force and gift our of own love. The guilt that slams the living in its aftermath springs from a sense of personal failure, impotency, inadequacy. What we could have done but didn’t! How we might have loved but failed!
“Love never fails.” But we’re not called to be successful. None of us is. We’re only called to give it our best shot — to love and love and love, to try and try and try. To hold out our arms when we see someone falling, even if we don’t catch them. Even if we fall, too.
I held out my arms for my sister and husband. Though I failed to catch them, I loved them as well and as deeply as I could, and I still do. My heart still fills with wonder and gratitude at the thought of them both — at the joy of being Lucy’s sister, Chris’s wife. The love I feel neither fizzles nor fades; it only waxes, never wanes.
This is what smacked me, one night at my dresser. It was so ridiculously obvious. I wondered how I’d missed it, all these years. It’s not that love will always heal a wound or stay a final restless act. It’s not about power. The eternity of love — the way it stretches from me to you and us to them, wherever we are, wherever they are, whatever seen or unseen fabric lies between us all — that’s the miracle.That’s the point.
“Love never ends.” It doesn’t.