True love has no past tense


This week it was chickens.

The backdrop for the life lesson that showed up.

That opportunity to be a better human.

So, there is this chicken club in town.

Every few months I get together with fellow crazies raising chickens in their backyards.

Always, a toe dipper who shows up.

Someone who is thinking about going clucky.

That’s how I encountered a special woman Sunday.

She came to learn about chickens.

And to teach.

She probably doesn’t know that part.

But she did.

A chicken feed, of sorts.

“I’m thinking about building my own coop,” she shared. “I’ll be using pieces of lumber my husband collected for years.”

We had a couple times to visit throughout the evening, this woman and I, between looking at coops, talking feed, and eggs.

Don’t get me started about the delight that is fresh eggs.

Laced throughout the conversation were mentions of this woman’s husband.

He wasn’t at the meeting.

Yet, it was clear he was very much with this woman.

She eventually shared, “he passed away in December.”

The slightest tear pooled in her eyes as she said it, as if she’s been practicing.

Saying this,

In public

To a stranger,

This day,

She could get the words out

and not cry.

As shared she shared a few more stories of her husband, I had to ask,

“What is his name?”

Yes, is.

“What is his name?”

I know Mrs. Anfuso, my drill sergeant 8th grade English teacher is cringing.

What’s with using present tense for a man who has been gone almost a year?

I stand by my choice.

Because of this woman

who came to talk chicken

But more importantly,

For me, at least,

Came to remind me,

There is no past tense in love.

When you love someone

Really love someone,

When they brand your heart,

Shape your life,

Tattoo your soul.

Past tense doesn’t exist.

There is no “Was” in love.

I suspect you know this, Dear Reader.

You’ve learned to be polite, be correct, to follow convention in public,

With people who you think you should be over this by now.

But you know.

I know.

Be it your husband who passed,

Your child who died years ago

The great love that wasn’t meant to blossom into marriage,

There is no “was.”

Sure, an English teacher or polite society might go with past tense.

But when you’ve really loved, Dear Reader, you know they live in your heart as sure as the last minute they were with you.

And that’s why I asked, “What is his name?”

The woman smiled back.

If a smile can say, “you understand and thank you,” this smile of hers surely did.

“His name is Tom,” she said. “His name is Tom.”

This column is for Tom.

For his wife who carries their love in the present tense.

And for you, who is no chicken when it comes to celebrating your own real love.

Love that forever is.