The enduring part of love


I think back on all the loves I’ve had in my life, and there are a few that stand out profoundly from all the others.

There aren’t many—three to be exact—but I count them as the primary building blocks of my romantic history. Although I have some positive and enduring memories, these three relationships weren’t always pretty; my guess is that truly good relationships rarely are. But these were my teachers in the important lessons that we all need to learn:  The difference between fleeting puppy love and that which truly touches your soul. How to love and how to let go. That romance and sex and differing agendas can complicate life beyond what you can imagine. That the most important aspect of love has friendship at its core.

And that’s the funny thing—all these years later, I’m friends with all three.

In each case the relationship was ended primarily by an opportunity that resulted in relocation. Whether the romance would have survived had we both stayed in one place is anybody’s guess and doesn’t really matter. In the end we moved away from each other and moved on. We got married, had kids, and worked our way through unpleasant divorces. We lived our respective lives.

And now, years later, through the wonders of FaceBook and email, we’ve found each other again. No, not in a romantic sense, but as old friends who have some common history and share that comfortable space where you knew each other well. We swap pictures of our kids, lend moral support when life hands us crappy circumstances, and cheer each other on through promotions and little league wins. And once in a while we share a harmless little flirt together, just for old times’ sake.

I’m happy to have had these three men in my life, and grateful that they are in some small way again a part of it. I thank them equally for wonderful memories, some hard lessons learned, and the unique opportunity I’ve been given to see the amazing people they’ve become after all these years. And I thank them most of all for showing me that the most enduring part of love is indeed friendship.

And so, after all these years—and in homage to all those years ago—I say to each of them with all sincerity…

Happy Valentine’s Day, my friend. With love.

Colleen Clifford

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