I am well aware that attempting to define love is a fool’s errand.
First there is the obvious factor that there are so many different types and forms of love that a singular definition is only a partial fulfillment of the goal.
We also then have to take into account the infinite variations dictated by circumstances surrounding the love expressed.
However, I am interested here in focusing on one particular instance, one particular case that honestly is, as the title suggests, the epitome of love.
My life, at least the last twenty-five years of it, has been a tale of woe and failure on an epic scale.
Loss of a well paid job due to chronic illness started the downhill run that is now littered with the wreckage of three failed businesses, the loss of numerous friendships, a mountain of debt and a permanently damaged spine that has ended my ability to provide for my family in any meaningful context.
All those things listed above are consequences of my poor decision-making, coupled with acts of immodesty and selfish greed that have been driven by an ego malformed by both a twisted childhood and my own mental illness, such as it is.
At this later stage of my life, it would seem I am finally learning.
Re-evaluating all of my priorities into an order based on less narrow-minded principles is seeing us finally climbing out of the mess I have made of things.
This is not self pity, nor is it meant to be an aggrandizement of my endurance; because it is not me that has endured.
I have suffered the consequences of my own actions, no more.
Anyone who would bemoan their woeful state when said woeful state is a direct result of their own actions is both deluded and a fool.
However, I am not alone in the suffering generated by these consequences.
My two beautiful daughters have grown up in a house of sickness and fiscal insecurity for their whole lives, but they are still with me, not just because they love me, though I am well aware that they do, but because they have had no choice.
On the other hand, there is one who has stayed with me through all of this and more, suffered the consequences more heavily than I have myself, put up with the stresses associated with caring for someone both physically and emotionally unwell and taken the majority share of responsibility for the upbringing of two amazingly well-adjusted children; all because of her love for and devotion to her family.
My wife is the breadwinner in our house at the moment, holding down a responsible position with a company whose management adore her and spoil her due to her diligent work ethic.
I am supposed to be the stay at home dad, but my physical limitations proscribe me from doing the majority of the house cleaning, so she gets this done on her weekends and days off.
She also manages the household finances, deals with much of the children’s school related matters and travels over an hour each way to work.
Despite the obvious imbalance, my wife has, from the beginning, supported my foray into writing; despite having seen very little in the way of reward from any of my previous ventures.
By now, most people would have given up, moved on and found someone with at least a few redeeming features to share their life with.
I have seen many marriages break up in my time, due to all sorts of reasons.
The common argument these days is that a relationship that is failing due to whatever reason should be ended to allow both parties to pursue a better life for themselves.
I would not argue that point one way or the other, as I do not judge anyone but myself, due to being unqualified to do any more than that.
Looking at my wife’s position in life through this lens, though, why is she still with me?
I love her desperately, it goes without saying; who the hell wouldn’t love a woman like that?
What have I got left to offer her, though?
I guess that is not what she is looking for, is it?
With my dear wife, there is no, “What’s in it for me?”, no quest for her husband to fulfill her better than he currently does and certainly no searching for a better alternative.
She lives for us, her husband and her children; sacrifices her time and effort to make our lives better with little to no thought towards her own needs.
For me, that is the epitome of love.
For this, and for so many other reasons that to count them would be to try to count the dust particles on the moon; she is to me the most wonderful and beautiful woman in the world.
Thank you, for being you, my love.