One of the most quoted definitions of love is in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, which begins, “Love is patient, love is kind….” Now, don’t freak out.

This isn’t bible study. Instead, I just wanted to focus on the less known and recited part of this definition that is often overlooked. The part that reveals love as an action, a verb–and perhaps the hardest to live up to: “[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

When I used to hear that verse, I would whisper, “Love is impossible.” But as Shane, his mother, and his best friend reveal, in all of its forms–whether it be ¹Eros (sexual passion), Philia (deep friendship), Ludus (playful love), Agape (love for everyone), Pragma (longstanding love), or Philautia (love of the self)–love starts with vulnerability, and blossoms into everything we need and want from there.

¹Shoutout to Roman Krznaric’s article, “The Ancient Greeks’ 6 Words for Love (And Why Knowing Them Can Change Your Life). Before reading it, I thought there were only four.

(Shane) What is love? I ask this question every month. I still don’t think I have it figured out, but I believe it’s the light to your dark days, life to your dreams, and a strong mental desire we all yearn for. It’s the most powerful energy force in the universe. Sometimes you don’t fall, but you fly. Sometimes it feels like a song that is just sung for you–and no one else–and you can’t get it out of your head.

img_0347It’s the basis for being alive. It can feel like a trap–you can be in it right now and not know it. It’s a dangerous thing people use for their own gain but can be the best thing you feel, but make it feel worthwhile. It is one of the very few things that doesn’t need to make sense. You can fall in love like nothing else in the world matters. It’s a feeling that you want to explain but can’t. You just feel it. It’s family. It’s vulnerability. It’s the strength to keep going, even when it’s hard.

I remember waking up under the same roof with everyone I loved during the holidays, especially Christmas. Parents. Siblings. Great grandparents. I remember feeling warm all over. There was something special about the smiles on everyone’s faces–it was the greatest gift given to me. Just experiences like that have taught me about giving and receiving love as a man, and just how powerful it is when you treat others the way you want to be treated.

Shane helped save me….When his father died, I remember feeling like I couldn’t go on. I couldn’t breathe. I remember taking a bath and thinking, “I can’t do this.” And then he put his hand on my hand and said, “Mommy, I love you.”

(Mother) Speaking about love. Shane helped save me during the darkest time of my life. And I don’t even know if he really realizes it. I remember feeling like I couldn’t go on when my husband passed. I couldn’t breathe. I remember taking a bath and thinking, “I can’t do this.”

I don’t know when my son came in, but I just remember him putting his hand on my hand and saying, “Mommy, I love you.” It gave me the strength to do what I needed to do. Two months later, I was back in school and was there for eleven straight years. And that support didn’t just end at that moment. Throughout that entire time, he gave me compliments every step of the way that pushed me to keep going.

There’s something about a son’s compliments. I would dare say it’s better than the person you’re seeing saying it. All I know is that when I finished college and graduated from law school, to see my children’s response, in particular for my son to say, “Well done” to me was a speechless moment.

I always say that all of my degrees are my children’s degrees. I don’t’ think my son gives himself much credit. I may have supported him outside of the classroom, but he had to face every single one of those obstacles head-on. And he brought the best out of me as a mother. There’s no book to raising a child. For the longest time, it was just us. Even early on, Shane always stuck close to me. He’s my guy. He’s my inspiration and I am all that I am because of my children.

(Best Friend) I feel the same way as Shane’s mother. He’s actually taught me how to be vulnerable. No one in my family is very vulnerable. Not my dad, mom, or older brothers. I was never taught to be emotional, even though I’m a woman. I wasn’t a hard child, but I wasn’t emotional. But meeting Shane, and him having a sensitive and loving heart, helped me express my emotions in a new way. It’s not easy. It’s been a long process. I’m not the easiest person to do anything with. But he’s there for me, always.img_0348

(Shane) Both of these women have shown me the power of love and intimacy, and just how important it is to have that powerful close connection when I most needed it. For example, within the past year, Melissa (best friend) and I were going through a difficult time where we weren’t communicating. On that day, I came to my mother’s house and was preparing to go to sleep, so I went upstairs and started getting ready to take a shower.

I feel the same way as Shane’s mother. He  actually taught me how to be vulnerable. I was never taught to be emotional, even though I’m a woman. But his sensitive and loving heart helped me express my emotions in a new way.

As I’m talking to Melissa–we were arguing–I noticed that my mother’s husband, who was a police officer, left his gun in the bathroom. So, I’m talking back and forth with her, still arguing, when I suddenly knocked over his gun by accident. When it hit the ground, it went off, and the bullet shattered the glass door near me.

I was so shaken up. I can’t even put into words how I felt, but I definitely felt helpless. In that moment, I just wanted someone to hold me. I was so scared. At the time, Melissa was in a bad mood. So, I didn’t think she would come over because she wasn’t answering any of my phone calls. But when my mother came in, she held me like a little boy. I didn’t give her one of those, “Get off me, I’m a man responses, either.” It was exactly what I needed because it was one of the scariest moments of my life.

Hope for better days is what I felt at that moment. In her arms, I wasn’t the 20-plus-year-old Shane. The adult Shane. I was the five-year-old Shane that needed the warmth and love from his mother. The love no man would understand. Like I said, it was very well needed.  I wouldn’t be here right now if the bullet hit me.

And later that night, when I looked up, Melissa was standing right there. She’d come to check on me the moment she got off of work, and she stayed over with me and helped, despite whether or not she was upset. It just showed me the level of love that she has for me, during one of my most vulnerable moments.