I am constantly astonished by what my children remember and how they remember it.
In 2014, after I had asked the children's father to leave, I decided I would pull up the very old carpets in our house. Rumour had it that there would be beautiful oak flooring underneath in the manner of all the houses in our 1950's neighbourhood, and I had long wanted to do it.
Rumour was right. I pulled up all the 'Health Advisory Warning' post-two-dogs-and-two-kids carpets and there, lying hidden beneath, was a gorgeous oak floor. Sure there was the odd stain on the wood but it gave it all the more character and the house looked stunning. Friends agreed we should have done it years ago. Living in California, wooden floors made so much more sense and you don't have to worry too much about being cosy in winter.
What I had been unprepared for was the reaction of my eleven year old daughter. It didn't matter to her how gorgeous our house now looked, we had lost the home of her childhood. It looked different, it smelled different, it was different. And in the pulling up of the carpets was the external confirmation that our family was never going back to how it had been before. The divorce was real and it would be final.
For six weeks, she cried almost daily. Always bewailing the carpets, but really bewailing the loss of our family as she had known it. It was heartrending to witness, exhausting, and sometimes incredibly frustrating. We couldn't get anything done because we were "caught" on the irrevocable change wrought by the carpets' departure.
Fast forward a few years. "You remember that summer, Mom, when we went synchronised swimming with Kennedy? That was the BEST SUMMER EVER."
Yes. THIS was the "carpets" summer she was talking about. My mouth gaped open, "Are you sure, darling? That was the summer I pulled up all the carpets." "Oh yes, I know," she replied lightly. "But that summer was so much FUN."
Isn't it interesting what we remember? I look back on my own life and, when I think about the darkest periods, what comes to mind is not a forgetfulness of the awful but, with it, an overriding and clear remembrance of the good. The friends who stepped up. The precious moments at the beach. A late night conversation. A kind note. The moment I met someone in the supermarket. The funny thing one of my kids said. Hope.
Why is that? I can only think because the existence of love is stronger than everything else and doesn't fade.
My three dogs remind me of this. They can be so infuriating, and loud, and demanding. However, what they have in overwhelming supply is a never-ending abundance of love for me and the children. Whether we want it or not. They are always there jumping up for our attention, or wanting to be stroked, or game for a cuddle, or simply longing to love.
This is the insistence of Love that runs like a gold seam through every human life. I know this, because the gold seam shows itself in story after story of human history. Personal and global.
Think of the worst times in your life: where was love? Even for a second. You will find it because it is there. Read any news story. If your heart is moved by it you're the insistence of love right there in your compassion, no matter what else is going on. Love will be there.
Love will not be denied. In whatever channel it comes through, it will come.
Look for it and it will always be found.