I discovered the writer, Leo Tolstoy, in a muddy ditch that held more blood than rain. One of the soldiers loved his words—and then, so did I. ‘All, everything that I understand,’ he wrote, ‘I understand only because I love.’ That was so many years ago.
But words on a page didn’t teach me that lesson. I learned it on my own.
I learned it in trenches with bullets flying overhead; pressed back to back with grizzled starving men who would have laid down their lives for mine. I learned it from a ribbon tied around my ring finger. I learned it from a kick inside my belly. I learned it from death, and hardship, and brief acts of inexplicable kindness. I learned love from sacrifice. I learned love from living. And no matter where I’ve gone, or what I’ve done—all the dark things I do not regret, but will never speak of—that is the one part of me that I have always kept safe.
Imus was such a fool.
Tolstoy will live forever. Some people do. But that’s not enough. It’s not the length of a life that matters… just the depth of it. The chances we take. The paths we choose. How we go on after our hearts break. Hearts always break.
And so we bend with our hearts. And we sway. But in the end, what matters is that we loved… and lived.