I don’t think getting out of bed and putting my pants on makes me brave or an inspiration. If those are the things that make me “inspiring,” we need to talk about not using tragedy as your pornography. That’s a different post.
There are people we don’t have a choice about loving. As children, we love our parents. I know that some people have to make the difficult choice to stop loving their parents, and I’m sorry for the complex pain of that loss. But as children, of course we love the people who care for us. For me, I can still love my parents. I’m not making a conscious choice to love them now, because that love was already in place. That love is part of being who I am. The same is true of my brother.
I didn’t make a choice to love people, at least, I didn’t make an informed choice. I knew what love and friendship were, but I didn’t know what it was like to have someone die. I didn’t understand the consequences of the choice to love. I’m not sure that 20-year-old me would have loved Jason so willingly if she’d known how it would end. I do know that 32-year-old me would make the same choice, even knowing this pain.
But I’m not sure that 32-year-old me has the strength to consciously love again. To choose someone and say, “Yes, I know heartbreak, and yes, I will love you.” Maybe 34-year-old me will. Or maybe 37-year-old me will. Or maybe I just won’t. I don’t know.
Bravery is the choice to love again. To look at someone and truly choose to love, even knowing they might die. Bravery is what I’m seeing from the other widows I meet who are falling in love again. Bravery is the people who are loving their children enough for two parents. Bravery is the people who are willing to put their hearts and souls out there and try again. That is bravery. The choice to love after really understanding how fucking terrible this loss is.