When I was in quarantine, I thought quite a bit about love—after all, I write romantic suspense novels. But after years of theoretical flights of fancy, I’ve come to the conclusion that real love expresses itself best in a piece of buttered toast.
During my quarantined years, my parents voluntarily lived a “quarantine-safe” lifestyle so they could be near me. They avoided all perfumed products, hairsprays, fancy shampoos, and lotions, and they used only the soap and detergent I could tolerate. My chemical intolerances were so acute that if someone who wore perfume brushed up against my parents, and then my mom or dad came near me, I became extremely ill. That meant that if my parents had been around other people, they would have to change in the garage, put on a robe, and shower before they could approach me. The hoops my parents jumped through were extreme, and they did it out of love.
That brings me back to the slice of buttered toast. You see, whenever I would have breakfast with my father, he always made sure that when the toast was ready, he would butter my toast before he buttered his. He knew that I liked my butter melted on hot bread, and he made sure that as I bustled around the kitchen, my toast was prepared just the way I liked it. Dad buttered my toast out of love.
During my quarantine, my mother knew that one of the things I missed the most was shopping. I hated being unable to enter stores. On the rare days when I could get out of the house, she would drive me to a small town (large towns had too much car exhaust) and then she would park in front of a store so I could “window shop.” From inside the car, I would feast my eyes at the trinkets and bobbles in the window display. My mother’s willingness to “take me shopping” was another act of unselfish love. She’s terrific.
My family also rallied around me. They knew I couldn’t attend family gatherings, so many times, they would go to my house and stand outside my window and talk with me through the glass. They would lift their babies up so I could tap the glass and coo at them. They would stand in a flowerbed, hold their phones to the glass, and show me videos of their children’s special events. They made sure that as the years slipped by, their kids knew they had an “auntie” who loved them. They deliberately kept my place in the family open for me so that when I was finally able to leave quarantine, I still felt like I fit in. To me, that’s love.
Love comes in many shapes and sizes. It can be thought of as moonlit balcony scenes and romantic strolls on the beach. But after seven years of separation from society, I’ve come to the conclusion that love expresses itself best in the small things. To me, love is a slice of buttered toast.
“Love each other just as much as I love you.” John 13:34b (words of Jesus)