Tuesday, October 27, 2009


My granddaughter S is soon to be nine years old. I remember the day her parents brought her home from the hospital. She was squalling at the top of her lungs as my son handed her to me. I took her in my arms and held her to my heart. She quieted immediately. That was the beginning of our special bond.

A few years later S was snuggled next to me on the sofa. Her new little brother J was on my lap. We were watching Dumbo for maybe the fourth time and had just gotten to the part where the circus elephants make a circle to keep Dumbo out when suddenly S knelt and put a hand on either side of my face. “MemerĂ©,” she said, “we need to talk about something.”

I looked into her earnest little face. “What do we need to talk about?” I asked her.

“Love,” she said. “It’s like this. When you love somebody, just because someone else comes over to play and you play with them, it doesn’t mean you don’t love the other person as much, right?”

I wondered what had brought this on. “I think I know what you mean,” I told her. “Last time I was visiting, your cousin came here and you went off to play with her. It didn’t mean you loved me any less.”

“Yes,” agreed S, “and just because J is sitting on your lap, it doesn’t mean you don’t love me, right?”

Ah, so that was it. “S,” I told her, “when you were born, I got to pick you up. I could feel your little heart beating against mine and I fell in love with you right then. I will never, ever fall out of love with you.”

“Did you feel J's little heart beating when he was born and fall in love with him, too?” she asked.

“I did,” I told her, “but that doesn’t mean I love you less. My heart is big enough for both of you, and for lots of other people, too.”

She snuggled back down beside me. “Good,” she said.

Later that evening, when S and I were holding hands while we drifted off to sleep, I thought about love in all its various forms. We’re born with a need to be loved and the capacity to love in return. All our lives we need to be surrounded by love, and if it isn’t there, something in us turns up missing. Because love is so vast a concept, it’s hard to pin one definition on it. It is always greater than the sum of its parts, is more than the respect, the trust, the caring, the delight, and the tenderness that go into it. And here was this tiny morsel of humanity, holding my hand and worrying about how much she was loved, how love could be divided and not be less than whole, and how she could share the affection of those she loved and not come up wanting.

The next morning she told her mother, “You know what, Mommy? MemerĂ© picked me up when I was born and she felt my heart beating on hers and BAM! That’s when it happened. We fell in love!”

Her mother looked at me and smiled. “I’m glad, S.”

“Me, too,” said S and she grinned up at me.

And that’s the way love should be – we should all hold our hearts against someone else’s and BAM! Think how big our hearts would be then.


steven said...

pauline this is beautiful writing from a beautiful big place - your heart! steven

JeannetteLS said...

Beautiful. GOOD tears. Just beautiful.

Molly said...

Oh, you have a talent for saying things I feel but can't find the words for. Lovely post. Lovely photo. Lucky S. Lucky you!

Anonymous said...

Well now....just what can you say about all that. Sweet and tender and honest and out of the mouths of babes.

Thanks for sharing that very tender moment.

Alan G

shara said...

Thank you Pauline. It's been a challenging few days, and your post was a delight.

Barbara said...

BAM! This one got to my heart. It says so much for all of us at any age. Knowing you are loved goes a long way to a feeling of contentment and self-confidence.

I'll bet young S. has many of your good qualities!

Flea said...

That is such a special post!
Happy 9th to S!
You are a great grandma, it even makes me look fw to being one one day.

etcetera said...

Oh, so wonderful. I was feeling a little self-absorbed today, but you just reminded me how amazing the heart is. I love you Momma :)

herhimnbryn said...

Oh P, this is just beautiful.

Meggie said...

I SO know that feeling! I have had it, with both my grandchildren. I loved to sit with those precious babies sleeping safe, so close to my heart.
My Grandson was a fractious baby, .. but he always stilled, & slept in my arms. We have a special bond, I cherish.

Land of shimp said...

Lovely post, Pauline. It's amazing to me that even as children, perhaps more so as children, we think of the bigger concepts in life without any fear. Life, love, death, all get discussed rather openly, even if in simplistic terms.

When we're little understanding things has a natural draw, and being around kids tends to draw us back towards those things. I read your post, and was sitting here thinking how infrequently adults are likely to discuss things like love. It's funny because adults learn to doubt more than children do.

Then I hoped that someone who was doubting read this post, and found comfort, reassurance, and peace in it.

Pauline said...

Steven - thank you! Love does that to you ;)

Awww Jeannette

Molly - your posts are always wonderful!

You're welcome Alan :)

Shara - glad I could help

Barbara - she is a marvelous child!

AD - you will LOVE it!

Trink - I love you, too!

Thanks HHB!

Meggie - isn't it the BEST feeling?

LOS - "we learn to doubt..." Oh yes indeed. It's little kids that help us re-believe :)

Thank you all for your kind comments!