I think that love is a word overused in our culture today. Maybe I feel this way because there are so many different types of love, but only one word to describe the emotion.
One of the most beautiful things that I have learned from studying Spanish is that they have different words and phrases to describe the different kinds of love felt by people. And this time of year the word love takes on an entirely new meaning with Valentine's Day encompassing an entire spectrum of love and folding it into one rather superficial meaning, filled with jewelry and roses and grandiose gestures.
Knowing this, it's often hard not to be distracted by this presentation of love, wondering when “the one” will walk through the door. As someone living with cystic fibrosis, this question is immediately followed by a series of additional questions. How do I disclose that I have CF? What if I get sick? What will their family think of my disease? Is this fair to them? What if we can't have kids? What if I need a transplant? While I truly feel that I've found the perfect human for me, there was a point where I had given up on the idea of love and marriage because of these thoughts.
When you have cystic fibrosis, the people in our lives are heavily impacted by what we go through. The beauty of this is that we see, and experience, love on a different scale. And this love isn't limited to a companion or partner.
This love also shines through friends, parents, siblings and caregivers. It is demonstrated by selfless acts; not because someone else is watching, but because it is their first instinct.
These people -- our partners in the fight against CF -- celebrate our victories and cuss out the infections. They're our prayer warriors, our advocates and our reason to fight. They love us so much that they see who we are today and who we could be tomorrow … and they push us to be better. They're the people who know not to say that they understand, but to simply be there.
Loving them is letting them love you -- letting them get close enough to know when you can't do it on your own. Loving them is fighting when you have nothing left, knowing that they're in your corner. This love is bigger than a holiday and can't be described in a Valentine's Day card. And, I guarantee, if the world saw the love that cystic fibrosis has shown me, there would be a new word for it.