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Today my Mom came home for lunch and told me that the husband of a long time family friend had passed away.

This man was a great man. He took care of his wife like no other man I have ever seen. He curled her hair in those back places that are hard to get to. She loved false eyelashes but had trouble putting them on, so he did it for her. He supported her through long illnesses and loved her.

Last night he went to sleep and did not wake up this morning. I cannot imagine the grief she is having. To know that the man she loved, who loved her, died beside her and was not awake to save him. That grief must be immeasurable. To know that the man who stood beside you in life, died beside you while you slept has got to be one of the most heart wrenching feelings in the world.

Times like these I think about my own life and relationships. I think about what I would do in her shoes. Part of me thinks its better to just love, because even when you have the hurt, at least you had the love too. The other part, the stronger part says “that is the reason why you don’t let people in at all”.

I have worked really hard at being strong and at being independent. I give advice more than I ever seek it out. I just dont show that side of me, even to the ones who love me and that I love. My fear is that if I make myself vulerable to them and they leave -for whatever reason- then what? I have become dependent on them and in turn, will be lost when they are gone. I have lost enough people who are special to me in this life to know that that pain is not a pain I want to soon revisit.

 There is a saying, when the heart is open to give it is open to receive. If you are willing to be there for people, your heart is bound to open to them, and when it does you are bound at some point to care about them. You cant help but love them.

So where is the balance? Is there a balance? Can you love without being hurt? Can you open yourself up and still be protected? Or is it better to stay closed and not love at all?

I am also curious about that protection. At what price does it come? Can you love fully while holding back? Is that an honest sort of love?

I don’t have any of these answers. I think that no matter the pain that you feel when those you love aren’t with you, it is the love that you know you have for them that sees you through.

My friend will hurt today and for a long time. She will feel excruciating pain and guilt. But she will have something else. She will know that she was loved, totally, wholly, and unconditionally. While that may be hard to see for a long time, she will come back to that. She will come back to see how much she was truly loved. Love won’t bring him back, but the memory will see her through.