“That’s when I knew I loved someone: because I literally have and still will give anything in the world to know she’s okay.”
Relationship Status: Single
What is love?
When you think of love you often think of a couple, you think of the significant other in your life. I feel like it’s a way you express love, but not really what love is—because love is just different for everyone.
The best way for me to describe it is this quote I read a while ago, which described love as this difficult understanding that there’s something else other than yourself that is real. And when you’re reading that, you’re like what? But that’s always resonated with me because when you love someone it’s acknowledging, apart from yourself, there’s someone else out there whose life matters as much as yours does, and their reality and their existence is just as important as you are.
Have you ever felt love?
With my mother: the pain I felt in seeing her go through treatment—seeing all the pain she went through and seeing someone you love in that vulnerable state—that’s when you realize what it’s like to really care for someone, because you would do anything in the world for them. Every night I pray to God, “Let me hurt, don’t let my mom hurt.”
That’s when I knew I loved someone: because I literally have, and still will, give anything in the world to know she’s okay.
Watching your mother battle with cancer must be tough…
It’s like almost being powerless in a way, not being able to do anything. I see it with my dad as well. My parents never had the best relationship or the best marriage, and I never looked at them as a figure of romance or love, because I never saw them in that way. But recently my mom’s cancer got worse—she was first diagnosed with lymphoma and now it’s spread to her brain—and that’s when I really saw it in my dad. My mom being sick is the first time I’ve ever seeing my dad and her affectionate.
He’s cried to me so many times and I’ve never seen my dad cry, but he’ll just say, “I just want your mom to be okay.” And I can see that he genuinely loves her and cares for her. And not just in the sense that you want them to be with you, you just want the best for that person. All he wants is for her to be healthy—and that’s love, because you don’t think about yourself, you just think about that person, and their life and happiness.
You mentioned your parents didn’t set the best example of a relationship, so growing up, what was your perception of love?
I don’t even think I knew because I don’t think I had a good example of love. I think I’d see it on TV as falling in love, true romance, finding your soulmate. Now that I’m older I realize that’s not all that love is.
But you were an English Major, so did reading all those books for class have an influence on you?
Actually that’s a good point! [Laughs] Growing up I always thought Rhett Butler, from Gone with the Wind, was my iconic romance—I wanted a romance like that, that was true love. I’ve read lots of books so I thought of love as this big romantic gesture and I thought about that as the only love that exists. But that isn’t only type of love there is.
I always thought I didn’t know what love was, because I’ve never been in love—I never had a significant other in my life. But then this year, I came to the realization that it comes in all forms: it can be about someone, anyone, you care about. You don’t need to have that big falling in love to really know what love is. I’d love my books to come true, but I’m not waiting for that to happen because I know exactly what it means to love someone. I’ve figured it out on my own through my relationship with my mom.
Before the cancer diagnosis, and now with your mother battling lymphoma, were you two close while growing up?
She’s been my best friend since forever. When I found out she had cancer it was like a part of me was hurting, as well too. And even now to this day, when I look at her and I see her struggle, it’s like a part of me is hurting along with her. I think I will always feel that way as she’s going through this. We’re connected that way and she’s always been my best friend.
How do you think your relationship with your mother will impact your future relationships either with a partner or with other people in your life. What’s something you’re going to take away from this experience?
I feel I’ve already learned from my mom, because I’ve cut out people that I realize don’t matter as much as I thought. I think when you go through this kind of situation in your life you realize what matters and what’s important. And then you take a look at your own life and think, “Who do you surround yourself with that doesn’t make you the better version of yourself?”
That’s when you realize that there’s always going to be toxic people your life, there are always going to be people that bring you down, but the most important thing is to surround yourself with people that you genuinely care about. You’re always going to have differences, you’re always going to disagree, you’re going to have those friends that you bicker with and fight with. But, at the same time I just learned to surround myself with people who are going to bring out those good parts in me because that’s what I really need right now.
I also feel that because of my love for my mother, when I meet someone I’ll know when I love them like right away and I’ll know exactly what it means to love them.
What is the key to maintaining any relationship?
You have to have the understanding that they matter as much as you do. I think that’s the key. It’s that respect for each other that you both matter, as much as you do to yourself. That’s important in any relationship. It’s just that understanding that you don’t put yourself first all the time.
Love is…? Fill in the blank with one word or two.
Love is reality. When you look at people on the street, you see them having their lives and they’re existing but you have no connection to them.
When you go through life, you’re in your own head and think about your own thoughts, your own feelings. You put yourself first for anything because you’re stuck with yourself. But when you have love for someone, that’s not the first thing that comes to your head: that person’s existence and life comes before your own. You don’t look at them like a stranger on the street—in a philosophical sense, it’s like knowing that someone is as real as you are to yourself.
It’s like the love of a parent for their child. Your parents put you first before them, constantly. Your parents have the most true sense of love for you because they will always put you first and they will always care about your happiness and your existence and your life.