By Tyler Mabry
Let me set the tone. The sun was shining bright in Los Angeles and my long term relationship had met its end. The “I love you’s” had come to a halt a long time ago. Time itself seemed to be pushing us in different directions. Oddly enough, this end made me feel strong, rather than weak. I felt ready to soar.
February 22, 2018
It was a rainy day in Nashville, Tennessee. The grey skies and a complete lack of sun permeated the city. Although it was the end of winter, nothing felt dead.
I was wearing a face mask to protect myself from the viral infection buried within the man laying in the hospital bed in front of me. Here was my creator, my dream maker, my father. This ending made me feel anything other than strong. I no longer felt the desire to soar. More like sore.
What do you say to an unconscious, dying man? What do you say to the man who has loved all of us unconditionally? How can I be strong and ready to make decisions, if the man who inspired my dreams is withering away?
I folded myself over my unconscious father. With a trembling lip, I told him that I should have loved him more. I didn’t know if he could hear me, but I felt I needed to talk to him. I told him that we can always love more.
Here’s the thing, though. He already knew this. It was the greatest lesson that he had ever taught me. I’ve carried this lesson close to my heart, as I have journeyed into adulthood and adventured across the world. We can cultivate this message into any relationship- there is no such thing as too much love. This perspective opened up countless learning opportunities that I would have never noticed otherwise.
When my long term relationship ended, it was natural for me to want to put up walls and recoil. I wanted to strengthen my personal boundaries. I told myself that I needed to learn how to tone down the love I give to others. I felt jaded and guarded as that relationship came to its natural conclusion. I’ve found that in any serious relationship, I often give too much of myself. At times, it feels like I love too strong. As I remembered the words of my father, I had an epiphany; you can never feel to much love or say “I love you” enough.
When I told my comatose dad that I should have loved him more.. I remembered the precise origination of that feeling. Flash back to me sitting on the sand in Miami Beach - a few weeks before the hospital - finishing the novel Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies at the End of the Story by Michael Ausiello.
The book follows the gut wrenching 11 month death of a man’s lover, Kit , who lost his life to a rare form of neuroendocrine cancer. Nevertheless, the author is able to effortlessly tie in short stories of their thirteen year relationship. These short stories include the peaks and troughs, the tears, the laughter, the awkward first encounter. In all actuality, it's the nitty gritty details that no one wants to talk about and it felt so real to me. In fact, I’ve never cried so much over a book.
The author portrays the reality of love in the modern world. We all seem to have this idea of a love that is unreal. We perpetuate unrealistic expectations:
I will feel like this...
I will act like this..
He should do this..
He should feel like this...
In reality, a lot of relationships have had to approach really taboo topics: monogamy, cheating, abandonment. The real challenge (or not) is to love someone even after the rose color fades into the periphery. This is the moment when we decide to see the real person. Is this love ephemeral or do we find long term limerence? Unfortunately, we find ourselves in ephemeral relationships more often than not. However, these short lived relationships provide lessons learned and reflection to improve all of the other evolving relationships in your life.
You will find similarities in all of these relationships. I’ve found there is a requirement to successfully be in a relationship with yourself, a significant other, and your family. It all requires a laborious amount of time, forgiveness, and gratitude. Give love exponentially and it will set the tone for all of your relationships. It is better to love too much, rather than too little. It was the best lesson a father could have ever given to his son.