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What Is LOve?

I Know What Love...

By Gigi GibsonPublished 4 months ago 5 min read
Top Story - March 2024
St. Lawrence River, September, 2013

“Don’t! I don’t want you! I don’t like you!” scolded my 3-year-old daughter as I kissed her chubby cheeks. She put her hand on my chest and pushed me away.

“That’s not nice!” I said, as though a hot knife had pierced my heart.

I thought back to the time when I first knew that I was pregnant. Now, I said to myself as I put my hand on my belly, I’ll have someone who will love me forever. The sting of my alcoholic father’s abuse and my mom leaving us to preserve her sanity would finally be over. I would truly be able to live happily ever after.

***

BAM! Dad slammed his fist down on the kitchen table, shattering the sugar bowl. His bloody hand dripped on the table and I ran for cover in my bedroom. My stomach wrenched in knots. I was only six, but I knew what love wasn’t.

***

BAM! Dad put his fist through the wall and smashed the glass milk bottle on the kitchen floor. My brother and I ran to our bunk beds and covered our heads. I was only ten, but again, I knew what love wasn’t.

***

Dad grabbed my mom by the collar of her shirt and raised his voice in anger. I got out of bed and stood between them. “Don’t touch my mother!” I taunted. Ashamed, Dad let go and went to the bedroom to cry. Mom sat in the kitchen with a cup of tea and lit a cigarette. I was twelve. I went to my bedroom and stayed awake until I knew my mom was safe. I knew what love wasn’t.

***

What was love? I longed for it. I yearned for it, but it eluded me… until one day when I was fifteen. I met a boy in the park. I was babysitting. It was “love at first sight” as they say. He swept me off my feet and pressured me for sex even though I told him that I wasn’t that kind of girl and that I wanted to wait until I was married. Over the next few months my “No’s” were met with stronger urgings, until the final ultimatum: If I didn’t give in, he was going to leave me for my girlfriend, who, he said, told him that she would have sex with him. My gut told me no, but I couldn’t face losing someone else whom I loved. I knew what love wasn’t, but I didn’t know what love was. I got pregnant three weeks before I turned sixteen.

***

We got married. He continued to drink and smoke up, and I had this beautiful baby girl, but felt so alone. He told me to go and visit my mom up north, and that if I wanted to have sex with other guys while I was gone, that would be okay, because he was going to have sex with other girls while I was away. When I got back home from my visit I left him. We divorced. I knew what love wasn’t.

***

I lived with another friend. He was stoned every day for three years and then we married. He told me that he chose me because I was beautiful. I chose him because I wanted security. We stayed mismatched but married for 34 years. He told me that he didn’t feel close to me anymore. He was emotionally cold and distant. I began losing weight. I felt starved for love, and empty in my soul. He was sick but we didn’t know how much. He died from leukemia a year later. I knew what love wasn’t.

***

Seven years after my husband, my Dad, and my stepdad passed, Mom seemed like a shell of her former self. She sat in her glider watching game shows much of the day, and only went out when I would take her. I decided to move us both back to our old hometown, where her sister and her old friends lived. I didn’t know where we would live, but I sold my house and searched for another one. I wanted to rescue my mom. I knew what love was.

***

I met up with old friends at coffee shops after our Sunday meetings. A kindly man, who we knew for forty years, became good friends with us after his wife died. “I would never marry him!” I said to another friend. “He jokes around too much!” I still didn’t know what love was.

***

On our wedding night, we stood in the hotel room, he sixty-nine, and me sixty-two years old. He held me in his arms, and said, “I’m so happy I could cry. I think this is the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.”

***

I know what love isn’t. But now I know what love is.

It’s when he tells me, “You are my most favorite human on earth”, even after four years of marriage, through the isolation of Covid, and the stresses of looking after my mom when she got sick and was hospitalized and then moved to a retirement home.

It’s when he woke up one morning, looked at me, and said, “Oh, it’s not just a dream. You really are here,” and he put his arms around me and told me how wonderful I am.

It’s when I go into mom’s room and she’s crying and frightened because she doesn’t know what she’s supposed to be doing, and can’t remember how to use the TV remote, and I put my arms around her and tell her that she’s going to be alright, and that I’ll always be there for her.

It’s when I adopted two little puppy mill rescue dogs a year after my second husband died. It took lots of work every day to win their trust. But when I scratched them on their necks, and they kissed my arm, I knew, and they knew what love was.

It’s when I volunteered to teach a friend’s autistic daughter how to do jewelry-making, and she texted me back, “You don’t know how much this means to me. Like, I’m squeezing you right now.”

It’s when I stand outside by the river before sunrise, and raise my eyes up to the glorious heavens, utter a word of gratitude for my life, and soak in the living painting that is spreading out before me.

It’s when I tell myself, so what if not everyone loves me? I AM loveable, I AM worthy of love.

And finally, I believe it. Now, I know what love is.

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About the Creator

Gigi Gibson

Gigi Gibson is a writer and poet. She loves little rescue dogs, interior decorating, and chocolate. “To evoke an emotional response in my readers… that would be the most satisfying thing that I could accomplish with my writing.”

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Comments (11)

  • A. J. Schoenfeld3 months ago

    What a journey you just took me on! I want to reach back through space and time and hug you at 6, at 10, at 15, and all along the way. I feel so fortunate. Yesterday I celebrated 26 years with my love and he still looks at me as though he can't believe I chose him. Everyone deserves that kind of love. I'm so glad you finally found it with your husband and with yourself. On the plus side, your past has made you into a very talented writer.

  • Andrea Corwin 4 months ago

    oh my. I am so glad you found love finally. He sounds wonderful. Trust is hard thing to give when you only know abuse. ❣️

  • Anna 4 months ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • Test4 months ago

    Amazing job! Keep up the outstanding work—congrats!

  • Chloe4 months ago

    this... is gorgeous, and so utterly true. <3 i'm so happy you have finally found love

  • zulfi bux4 months ago

    Wow !!! What an amazing story..I couldn't have wrote it better..I have been hurt while been in love and it shattered me to pieces but I picked up and in the end found my true love who cherishes every moment been with me..thank u for a great story and keep on writing

  • Willett4 months ago

    Wow so amazing 🤩 perfectly written. How long have you been on this app? I Wonder why i didn’t see your stories before now.

  • Shirley Belk4 months ago

    Sometimes it takes a lifetime to figure it all out...I'm still working on that, too!

  • John Cox4 months ago

    Gigi, this is a story of triumph over despair. I’m so happy that you have learned that you deserve to be loved and found a man who truly does. This is a heart wrenching and heart warming story!

  • Carol Townend4 months ago

    I had to learn love the hard way, but then I met someone who stole my heart in very difficult circumstances, and we have been married over twenty years.

Gigi GibsonWritten by Gigi Gibson

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