When Emilia was about six months old, Kyle and I set about getting life insurance. At the time, I joked about it: look at us! We are so mature! And grown-up! ADULT, EVEN! GO US. I also related the story of how, as part of the process of applying for life insurance, a nurse visited our home to take blood samples and I fainted. Twice. These were the things that I felt most comfortable sharing about that process: that it made me feel like a grown-up, and that it also made me faint.
The thing of it was, though, that it was much more complicated than that. It was, as they say, loaded. The reason that getting life insurance is a grown-up thing to do, the reason why it feels so adult, is because it requires confronting the sort of reality that only adults, for the most part, are equipped to confront, or that one becomes more adult in the process of confronting: the reality that your life is, in fact, finite, and that it is entirely within the bounds of possibility that you might reach the horizon of its finitude before you’re ready. So you best be ready. Especially if you have children.
In a nutshell: you could die, and leave your children without a parent. To say that this is sobering is to understate things in the extreme. This is the sort of thing that makes one want to crawl under the covers with one’s fingers in one’s ears. This is the sort of thing that one wishes that one could just push away and deny. But this is also the sort of thing that speaks clearly and loudly of the full force of parental love. This is the very definition of that love: it is a love that confronts fear and does not retreat. It is a love that looks at all the scary things in the world and asks itself, what must I do to protect my loved ones from from these things? And, what must I do to deal with the reality that, despite all my efforts to fight it, bad things can still happen? It is a love that doesn’t wear rose-colored glasses. It’s a love that looks at life and the world and time and everything and strains to see as clearly as possible. It’s not the kind of love that we usually associate with Valentine’s Day; it’s not warm and fuzzy and wrapped in red satin bows. But it’s the most important incarnation of love, arguably, because it is this love that takes care, and gives care, and actively fulfills its promise to honor and protect.
The question of life insurance came up again, recently, because of all the recent changes in our life. When we first got life insurance nearly 6 years ago, Kyle was the primary breadwinner; I was a dependent spouse. That’s changed – that’s reversed – and there are a lot of things about that change, that reversal, that have been difficult for us. But we had to confront it, and name it, and sign off on documents that said, now, YOU are the primary breadwinner, and YOU are not; YOU need to be more fully insured, whereas YOU do not. That was not easy. We had to wade through the thickets of we live a different life now, a life that’s proving difficult to navigate at times, a life that’s proving difficult, at times, for us to navigate as partners because the very nature of the partnership has changed. But we did it.
Because we’re grown-ups. And that’s how we love now.
That’s how we love.
Sponsored by LifeHappens.org, who are encouraging everyone who loves and protects someone(s) to celebrate that love today.