In my kitchen cupboard, there’s a small heart shaped vase that held a single red rose. Brian gave it to me on our first Valentine’s Day “together”. We ate out at a Chinese buffet then walked the beach at the Big Lake. Frozen stillness all around us that moonlit night but we were riding the big waves of affection and attraction.
I unearthed buried treasure up in the attic this week. Underneath the bassinet—the one that all the babies we made together slept in–was a big box. I blew the dust off and sneezed.
Inside, I found gold.
Love letters from me to him and him to me.
In “the good ole’ days” before voicemail, choppy text messages and Facebook, ink and paper documented our story.
Somewhere along the way, we started signing our letters with Naphshenu Echad which means “Our Souls are One” in Hebrew.
It’s even etched into the gold on my finger.
We thought we understood what it meant back then.
Actually we’re still figuring it out.
Don’t laugh but one of my favorite books in the whole world is called Sugar Cookies: Sweet Little Lessons on Love by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Jane Dyer.
Everything you need to know about love in 22 little cooking vignettes is right there.
It goes like this:
ADMIRE means, I really look up to you and the way you are with your cookies. You remind me of what is good and possible in this world.
HEARTFELT means, I made these sprinkly cookies for you because I know they’re your absolute favorite kind.
ENDEARMENT means, “Come here, my sugar, my cookie, my sweet little morsel.”
UNREQUITED means, He sure loves her cookies, but I don’t think she feels the same way about his cookies . . . or maybe she just hasn’t noticed them yet.
REQUITED means, Look! They both love each other’s cookies.
ADORE means, I think you’re simply delicious. Oh, I could just gobble you up.
BLISS means, Oh, my, the aroma! The divine taste! I’m in total cookie heaven.
TRUE LOVE means, I like a lot of cookies, but this cookie here, this cookie is extra-special . . . My love for it is pure and rich and endless.
CONSIDERATE means that I waited until you got home so we could lick the bowl together.
CONSTRUCTIVE means that if the cookie tastes funny, I’m going to be honest and tell you.
COMPASSIONATE means that when you burn the cookies to a crisp, I’ll be there to give you a hug.
SUPPORTIVE means that when your cookies are a huge hit at the bake sale, no one is happier for you than I am.
UNCONDITIONALLY means that even when you mess up the cookies, my love for you doesn’t change on single bit.
SELFLESS means, No, really, please, I want you to have the last cookie.
PROTECT means, I will always be here to keep your cookies safe.
EXPANSIVE LOVE means, I love this cookie, and I love this cookie so much too, and wait, I really love this cookie as well. My love keeps growing to make room for each new cookie.
HEARTBROKEN means, my heart feels sad and hurt, like a crumbling cookie.
FORGIVE means, I needed some time to get over what you said about my cookies-‘cause that wasn’t very nice- but now I think I’m ready to play with you again.
CONNECTED means, We’re making these cookies together so naturally and easily, like we somehow know exactly what the other is doing and what needs to be done now.
CHERISH means that there is nowhere in the universe I’d rather be than here in our kitchen, baking sugar cookies with you.
HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU means that even if I made cookies from morning to night every single day forever and ever and ever, it still wouldn’t even come close.
Love looks different now. Feels different too. I wonder at those words I wrote 28 years ago. It all felt so perfect.
But love gets messy in the cookie making business too. Not only do the cookies sometimes taste funny and burn, we realize we’re missing ingredients , and we don’t like each other’s cookies and neither one of us wants to clean up the mess after we cook together. Somewhere along the way it became less about “total cookie heaven” and more about “needing some time to get over what you said because it wasn’t very nice” and learning to humbly say, “I think I’m ready to play again”.
Now I realize that this side of heaven the best we can hope for is that even when “my heart feels like a crumbling cookie”, “there’s nowhere in the universe I’d rather be than here in our kitchen baking cookies with you.”
And that’s OK….
Quoting from the movie, Old Fashioned:
“I have a theory. …
Maybe love doesn’t have to be perfect to be worth it.”
And when we accept and live in that broken beautiful place, that’s when our souls really do become one.