Love knows no boundaries; it is an energy so strong that it crosses time and space, connecting different dimensions. And I mean love of all kinds, not just romantic love but also love between parents and children, among friends…love may be stronger or weaker, unconditional or not, but it is always a very special emotion, making the world go round.
When you lose someone you love and who loves you very much you feel devastated, lost; you feel desperately lonely but then, one day, you understand that somehow that energy is still around you and you are not as alone as it might seem. As happened to me a few years ago.
I had lost my dear father a little more than a year before. It was somewhat sudden. He was seventy three and in great health and spirits and suddenly we had the terrible news that he had liver cancer. A doctor himself, he refused treatment with radiotherapy and chose a high risk operation. In the end it did not work and he knew he only had a few months to live. He must have been in great anxiety but even so he tried to comfort us and he was very courageous until the end, giving us all a great example of fortitude and fearlessness. He used to say he had lived his life “his way” and he chose not to live it as a sick man.
We missed him very much. To me he was like a rock, someone I could always count on, and suddenly I felt helpless, truly orphaned; now I was really on my own. Always very independent, I missed just knowing he would be there for me, in case I needed him.
There was not – there is not – a day when I did not remember him through his words or the things he did for us. I even surprised myself by using his expressions, by saying things with his intonation…I told the boys about many times; I remembered old stories, how he was such a charming man in his youth, how he and Mom had met, how he was seasick during his first trip to Madeira to visit Mom’s relatives after their engagement; how he loved being a radiologist because he said it was a “clean” specialty of medicine…I remembered his wise advice – even if I didn’t always agree with him at the time – and his pride in me, what a happy and devoted grandfather he was to my boys…and, always there, palpable, was the love he bore us, a strong, fatherly love.
After all those months I was still trying to adapt to a world where I had no father and many times I remembered him with tears in my eyes because I missed him so much.
It was a cool sunny morning and I had just dropped my younger son Pedro at primary school. It was impossible to park in from of the school building so usually I parked my car on the sidewalk one street away for a few minutes leaving the hazard lights on (very common in Lisbon!) while I rushed with him up the street. I kissed him at the school gate and watched as he went up the stairs and disappeared from sight. I said “hi” to one or two parents that I knew and absentmindedly walked down the street.
My car was parked on the other side of the street and I clearly remember seeing the green light for pedestrians before deciding to cross it. Then it all happened in a fraction of a second – before I stepped out of the sidewalk and onto the street a sudden and urgent voice inside my head warned me: “Look left!” and as I immediately obeyed I saw a bus driving towards me at high speed and I only had time to throw myself backwards while the bus passed a few centimetres from my face in its crazy ride down the street. In my confusion I glimpsed the horrified face of its driver as also in a second he understood he was about to kill me – which in fact he would have, weren’t it for that mysterious warning voice that ultimately saved my life.
As I regained my balance I stood on the sidewalk, in shock, shaking all over, while people gathered around me asking me if I was all right and saying the driver was “crazy” and he had run a red light – and all the time I was saying “I’m all right” and thinking of the voice that had saved me and not for one moment did I have any doubt that it had been my father’s voice; I knew he had saved me because he wanted me to be there for my boys who were still so young and helpless, to help them grow into men and protect them as he had done with me.
I finally managed to get into my car and I drove very slowly, still mesmerized by what had happened and for the miracle that had saved me. Had it not been for that voice, I would have been violently hit by the bus and certainly died on the spot. Had it happened, I could picture my husband receiving a terrible phone call, going to the mortuary to identify my body and disconsolately telling my boys about their terrible loss, that their mother was no more. As it was, I felt reborn – I had been given a new chance at life, a new life in fact, the opportunity to go on living and see my boys grow into adulthood.
Once again, my father, my dear father had bestowed on me the gift of life; whatever dimension he was in, he sensed the danger and reached out to me so that he might save me. As I drove to work I felt the tears running down my face and I thanked him with all my heart; I knew that, wherever he might be, as he had reached out for me and I had distinctively heard him, he would know I was eternally grateful to him for having saved my life.
I believed I stopped feeling lonely from that day on. It is true that I cannot see him with my eyes but I feel him with my heart. Sometimes when I look at the night sky and see the twinkling stars I believe he may be one of them, shining on us from above and watching over my boys and me. For he has certainly done so in these past years and in times of great need he reaches out and we can feel his protective hand showing us the way.
You may say this story does not have a logical explanation. Maybe not, but for me it makes all the sense in the world. Does love have a scientific explanation? Definitely not. I can only say it again and again – love creates such a strong energy that it knows no boundaries. This energy connects us through space and time and even life itself as we know it, in a never ending chain. Because when love is true, it must be the most powerful feeling in the universe.