It’s a profound feeling when you realise that you love someone unconditionally. It’s frightening.
I arrived in my hometown this morning, and write this post from the bed of my childhood, in the house I was raised in. This room, house, town, will never become unfamiliar to me. Every morsel of physical matter has a memory attached to it – the cat bookends I bought in Sydney, the soccer field I canoed over in the floods, the swing my dad built for me. The most familiar thing, however, is my family. My little brother grows taller and skinnier every month or so when I visit. His hair longer. His vocabulary bigger. His round face exactly the same.
A few moments ago I had a wave of unconditional love wash over me. I was kneeling next to by little brother’s bed, rubbing his back as his eyes rolled with sleepiness. Rupa is eight, has Downs Syndrome, and is the person I love the most in this world. He has a flu at the moment, and was coughing in his sleep when I rushed into his room to make sure he was okay. He was. I left the room, to have dad come out to tell me that Rupa said I was his hero, and he wanted me back in the room with him. As I settles next to his bed, he thanked me in a small, weak voice for making him an easter egg hunt today. All day he was burning with a fever, but I had promised him an easter egg hunt, so I piggy-backed him while he hung on limply and pointed out the chocolate eggs I had strategically hid around the garden. I’ve never felt love in such a powerful way – knowing that I would do everything to keep my little brother safe. Everything.
Although I’m only 20, I know that this must be what it feels like to love your child. And feeling this overwhelming devotion and infinite care makes me realise that although I like to think that I’ll live my life for myself and myself only, never putting my dreams aside for the sake of having children, actually that no number of awe-inspiring experiences could ever amount to the feeling of loving someone so wholly and completely that you are prepared to give up everything for them. And really, what is the point of life? The simplest answer I can think of is to love. Nothing transforms people more positively than love.
Having these revelations opens a door of insight into my upbringing. My parents must have gone through so much pain when I went through my rebellious teenage period, pushing them out of my life and adopting some bad friends and habits instead. And now, I live on the other side of the country. Although they’ve had twenty years to adjust to my constant changing, I feel guilty for leaving them. For I’m sure, without a doubt, that they sat by my bed when I was a child, and patted my back with tears in their eyes as they marveled at how powerful and terrifying and strengthening love is.
And I’m sure I’ll do the same for my children when I have them. Until then, I’ve got my little brother.