Words on love from Neil Gaiman


Gaiman wrote this for some friends of his that married in 2017. In addition to being beautiful, it also perfectly captures marriage, or at least what little I know about it after almost 20 years in one. You can read this and more at his online journal here

This is everything I have to tell you about love: nothing.
This is everything I’ve learned about marriage: nothing.

Only that the world out there is complicated,
and there are beasts in the night, and delight and pain,
and the only thing that makes it okay, sometimes,
is to reach out a hand in the darkness and find another hand to squeeze,
and not to be alone.

It’s not the kisses, or never just the kisses: it’s what they mean.
Somebody’s got your back.
Somebody knows your worst self and somehow doesn’t want to rescue you
or send for the army to rescue them.

It’s not two broken halves becoming one.
It’s the light from a distant lighthouse bringing you both safely home
because home is wherever you are both together.

So this is everything I have to tell you about love and marriage: nothing,
like a book without pages or a forest without trees.

Because there are things you cannot know before you experience them.
Because no study can prepare you for the joys or the trials.
Because nobody else’s love, nobody else’s marriage, is like yours,
and it’s a road you can only learn by walking it,
a dance you cannot be taught,
a song that did not exist before you began, together, to sing.

And because in the darkness you will reach out a hand,
not knowing for certain if someone else is even there.
And your hands will meet, 
and then neither of you will ever need to be alone again.

And that’s all I know about love.

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The world feels so hopelessly dark.

Just this week, the assumed remains of two young people were found in our state and, as if to pile tragedy upon tragedy, some have used it to pontificate about the value of humans based on their country of birth and it’s as if our humanity is leaking from a crack beneath us and seeping into the earth. I don’t see how we’ll ever recover what we’ve lost. At some point, maybe we’ll just run out completely.

Personally, we have fractured some relationships this year. Some quietly, gently. Some like sharp, jagged cuts that won’t be healed, rising months later, screaming to make themselves known despite efforts to bandage them or simply turn away.

The kids go back to school in a few days (and if something awful doesn’t befall them like this week’s news seems to promise) they’ll end up going to college and moving away and it’s already more than I can take to imagine them gone eight hours a day; I can’t even imagine them divided among the coasts.

But, amidst the darkness, there is also so much good: Emily, who wants to study musical theater, her voice ringing through the house night after night, Claudia, so dryly funny and endlessly helpful, sweet William who dreams of becoming a veterinarian, and Eric who makes me believe that the world is full of people working for justice.

There are the new connections we’ve made this summer that have been both surprising and wonderful. I find myself understanding the phrase, “everything I never knew I always wanted.”

And, I have been writing. Pages and pages on, as Ellis Paul says, a town I’ve built inside of my head. It’s been incredibly hard and satisfying and I’m sure no one will ever see it, but I’m lucky to be getting to do it.

The thing about having so much to be thankful for is that you’re keenly aware of how much you have to lose and tonight, with all the difficult news, the weight of that bad stuff feels so much heavier than it usually does.

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When I was a teenager, my mom seemed to actually care about what interested me. Maybe it mattered to her, maybe it didn’t, but I felt it did.

Now that I have teenagers of my own, I try to treat them the same way and it helps that they like things I enjoy. I’m not sure that I could camp outside of concert venues with Claudia if it was to hear death metal or go to the theater with Emily if it was to hear German opera over and over. I like to think I would, but, ugh.

I assume there will come a day, maybe soon, when they won’t want to sit in the van in the driveway with me for hours listening to music while we sing along or worse, there may come a day when they would still be willing to but I might not be here to do it. In the meantime, I’ll be the super uncool mom who knows all the word to that one boy band’s songs and has the t-shirts to all the musicals.

It’s hard enough to be a teenager, you may as well have a mom who gets you.

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