Love in All Its Forms

I have grown to accept change as a natural occurrence. It is just nature’s way that whenever a situation becomes manageable, it must change. This theory has held for most of my life, especially my childhood.

Growing up I was loved by two very different people: my mother, a Deadhead and free spirit, and my father, a business consultant. They divorced when I was quite young, leaving my younger brother and me to scramble for their affections. We were carted from house to house, and a semblance of normalcy was created. A balance settled; our crazy, fun mom for one week, and our conservative and quiet father the next.

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My mother’s love was tangible. She and I were best friends, talking late into the night, huddled under the covers exchanging secrets. Dinner with her usually involved both my brother and me spewing milk through our noses from laughing so hard.

We would sit for hours planning our dream of moving to Wales and running our own lavender farm. The only subject we rarely discussed was the possibility of her death in her constant fight with breast cancer.

Our rotation from parent to parent lasted 10 years until my mother died in 2004. This came as a shock to my brother and me, and left us to move in permanently with our father. Besides her tangible absence from my days, the hardest part of Mom’s death was our adjustment to the differences between living with her versus with my dad.

Mom had always shown her love through late-night storytelling and root-beer floats, but Dad did not find it necessary to tuck me into bed or listen intently to me talk about my day. His love was different. We didn’t talk about problems at school or the fissure caused by her death. My mother was a sore subject – something to be left in the past while I adapted to my new family.

Those first few years were rough and drastically changed my perception of the world. My father’s rules were a shock compared to Mom’s, which were nonexistent. In his house I was expected to keep my room clean and bathe regularly, something I fought with a passion. As a flower child, this strict doctrine crushed me, and I began to hide the possessions most precious to me, memories of Mom.

However, as is natural, I acclimated over time, and I learned the ways of my father’s heart. To him a bike ride was a time to talk, no matter how few words were exchanged. And although meal time was quiet and orderly, he did learn to regularly feed us brinner (breakfast for dinner). I have come to realize that the running T-shirts he gives us after marathons are his way of showing he cares. And while I have only seen him cry once (during “Apollo 13”), I have helped him loosen his tie a little. The most important thing I have realized is that there is more to him than work and order.

Life after my mom’s death has been a struggle of the heart, as I hid all those precious moments inside me, afraid the coolness of my new family would suck them away. These years have taught me to accept the unknown and what I can’t change. Unlike many friends in high school, I can recognize the importance of meeting with a grandmother for lunch or calling a father at work to convey love.

Although my life has been unconventional, I have grown accustomed to it. However, it would be naive to become too comfortable in these new patterns; I know that soon I must adapt again, hopefully gaining even more insight into the workings of the world.

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