Insight For The Modern Man

My first love. So many choices I could write about…

  • My first dog
  • The young women who I first had romantic connections with
  • First kiss
  • First “If I’d have known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have fucked that one up” girlfriend
  • First girlfriend I fell head over heels for and subsequently had my requisite heart-shattering being-dumped-by experience
  • My love of all things Boston pro sports … but I’ll spare you that since it would likely piss off most of y’all

No, not this time. For now, I want to write about my parents.

This most recent holiday season has been a weird and bittersweet one for me. The first love I ever had, I suspect this is true for almost all of you as well, was Mom and Dad. Both of my parents passed away in 2019, about five weeks apart (along with Max the Wonder Dog).

My earliest and most dear memories are things that my parents provided for me. Things I barely remember, but I know shaped me as a human – either something that they imbued into me, or something they shepherded me through. Much of what I live and do is shaped by them.

Even in their passing, they have continued to teach me about love. In my eulogy about Dad, I talked about how fitting it is that they went out so close together. They had been joined at the soul for 60 years. They went out the way that they had lived – together. I like to think about marrying something as chemists do. In a chemistry perspective. Marrying two (or more) things involves taking things, doing something to them and turning them into something new and different. My parents clearly were “married.” I am not so sure that my ex-wife and I ever really “married” each other in the way that my parents did. Don’t get me wrong – I loved and, in many ways, still love my ex-wife. The love my parents had for each other was something different … and sadly and wonderfully all at the same time, stronger.

Another lesson I learned from Mom and Dad this holiday season was about loss. In many ways the depth to which I love my parents is felt by me in how much I miss them. And maybe, just maybe, love cannot exist without incurring the loss that will ensue when that love cannot be expressed in person any more. Hell, I still love every pet I have ever “owned.” I put owned in quotations because I am not sure if I owned them or if they owned me – come to think of it, maybe love is having someone or something own part of me.

OK, so contemplating that a bit, and referencing my dog, let’s look at this idea for a bit. It is clear as hell that my dog loves me. Maybe it is because I am Food Source – a name that one of my son’s used to call me to the family dog at the time. Maybe it is because I provide warmth and safety for him. I suspect it is more because he has allowed me to own such a huge part of him. And he has clearly allowed it. So really him loving me is his gift to me.

Interesting food for thought – maybe love is allowing someone to have a piece of my heart. Or a wide swath of it.

This holiday season, each time I looked at something I inherited from Mom and Dad – physical stuff like Christmas tree ornaments, or the two Boston sports ball caps or the like, I have felt the pang of loss. The pang of love, if you will. And I am reminded again and again about the nature of love. Some say love is a choice to make over and over again. Some call love a verb. Some call love an action.

I think love is all of that and more.


A FINISHING NOTE – I am completing this writing on the day that Kobe Bryant passed away. It has been touching and heart-wrenching to watch and read all of the love that so many people have for this man. Clearly a beloved person. I am reminded of something that my friend Howard Spierer said to me shortly after our mutual friend Kurt Thorne passed away. I was finding it weird that I wasn’t feeling much grief about Kurt’s passing. I mean it was a sad thing. I just wasn’t all wrecked about it. Many men and women who had known Kurt were shattered when he died. I suspect many still have pangs about him today. Howard said, “You’re not feeling that grief because you were complete with Kurt. There was nothing left unsaid or undone with each other for you.” To that end, and especially given what I have witnessed today from all the people who have expressed their grief about Kobe Bryant, I encourage you to make sure that you say and do whatever you need so that you are complete with the people you love. Tomorrow is not a guaranteed promise, as all you have is this moment.

In that spirit, to all the people who have meant so much to me – I love you.

Thank you for everything you have given me, for who you have shaped me to be.