Love

The Day Love Arrived On My Doorstep

Photo: Syda Productions, benedek | Canva 
Woman standing in front of her homes doorstep

In the summer of 2020, I was searching for love in the form of a boyfriend. I created a profile on a dating app and spent the season swiping away. I went on a few dates, but none of them panned out. Either we weren’t feeling any type of chemistry or our conversations tanked.

As hard as I tried to find someone to love, no one showed up.

I became a bit frantic trying to find a man to spend time with, knowing that restaurants and bars would close again in the colder months ahead due to COVID. I lived alone and fretted spending the winter all by myself. I’m an introvert but cherish in-person conversations. Eating dinner solo every evening also sounded dreadful to me. So I begged and pleaded with the Universe.

Please, oh please, send me somebody to love and hang out with this winter.

During this time frame, my youngest son stood at a crossroads.

He attended college about 350 miles away. He was supposed to start his third year but had second thoughts. He realized he was in the wrong major and at the wrong college.

He was also struggling mightily with a relationship that turned sour and ended badly. His tender heart was broken.

To top it off, all of the challenging aspects surrounding his relationship with his dad were hitting him hard. The two of them never formed a deep bond and it hurt to accept that they may never have the father-son relationship he desired. His emotions were a tangled mess.

Unfortunately, all of this chaos happening inside him was unknown to me at the time.

The Day Love Arrived On My DoorstepMy son | Photo from author

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My son has always been fiercely independent.

Even as a young child he rarely accepted any advice from me and instead did what he thought was best. I’ve learned not to push him because he would always push back. I’ve mostly been a hands-off parent with him, simply standing nearby for the times when he reaches out for help. For the most part, this has worked out well and our connection has been strong.

However, during his senior year of high school, I let the parenting ball drop. I knew my marriage was crumbling and I wanted out. On the surface, I made a feeble attempt to save my marriage while secretly being involved with another man — not conducive at all to fixing my marriage nor to effective parenting. I was an emotional wreck. My time and attention weren’t on my son.

Sadness certainly welled up in me at the thought of my son leaving for college but I’ll admit the overarching feeling was relief. I’d always been the buffer between him and his dad. Now that my son was moving out, I could leave too.

For his last year of high school, I wasn’t the parent I’d liked to have been. This pattern continued into his first two years of college as my focus turned more toward healing my heart and mind. My hands-off approach in conjunction with processing all the problems in my own life kept me from checking in with him as much as I should’ve.

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The summer before he started his junior year in college I’d arrived in a much better place mentally and emotionally.

I’d worked through a lot of my troubles. I’d landed a great job and moved into a better apartment.

It was during this time that he called me and I heard pain in his voice. He opened up to me about all his internal struggles. For the first time in his life, he sounded stuck and unsure of what to do.

Soon after his call I planned a trip to visit him. When I arrived at his place and saw him my heart sank. His already slender frame had lost weight. His energy was zapped from struggling under the burden of so much hard stuff piled on him at once. He was in much worse shape than I’d imagined.

Guilt rose inside me. For years I’ve harbored a large amount of regret for marrying someone who as a husband and a father was incapable of having a deep meaningful connection with anyone. I’d always filled in those gaps for my kids. As I gazed at my son, it hit me hard that for the last few years, I’d done the same thing to him. I’d neglected our once-strong connection leaving him to flounder on his own.

As I looked at my broken son, I knew I had work to do to repair the damage I’d done so I suggested he come to visit me. Spending time together in a different location might help ease some of the heaviness and help me reestablish the connection I’d lost with him. He reluctantly agreed.

I set aside my quest to find love and focused on mending my relationship with him.

During that weekend with me, he slept a lot and in between his rests we had some heart-to-heart conversations. With a bowed head, he told me he didn’t want to return to school. I agreed that taking time off may be best for him and I suggested he move in with me. My place was small but I could make room. He could heal his heart and do some soul-searching.

He returned to his college apartment and started boxing up all his stuff. A week or so later I drove up to help him. We rented a U-Haul, packed it full, and made the trek back to my home.

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After he moved in we settled into a sweet routine that continues to this day.

Over dinners together many meaningful conversations are taking place. I’m catching up on my son’s life. I’m listening to his struggles and helping him process solutions when he asks for advice.

He’s an old soul and for someone so young he has an extraordinary amount of wisdom packed inside of him. We’re shedding a few tears together, sharing childhood memories, and enjoying many hearty laughs.

After dinner, he always helps me clean up the kitchen. When I stand at the sink to wash the dishes he wraps his arms around me and swoops me up from behind in a strong bear hug. He thanks me for dinner and tells me he loves me. Every time he does this, I stop my dishwashing and simply allow his expression of love and gratitude to soak in. My heart swells. Any tension from my work day still lingering inside me melts away.

Not long after his arrival and this routine formed, it dawned on me that the Universe answered my plea for love. It just turned up in a different bundle than I had in mind. I’d asked for a man to spend time with during the upcoming winter — someone to love and share meals, conversations, and hugs.

And the wise and benevolent Universe responded by sending me my son.

Love showed up on my doorstep in the most beautiful way — one better than I ever imagined.

Three years have passed since the day my son moved in with me.

Filled with healthy home-cooked meals and good old-fashioned motherly care he’s on a much better path. Most of his relationship wounds have healed. He’s finding his way and branching out. He’s back in college and next week he’ll fly overseas to spend his spring semester studying abroad. Although I’ll miss having him around I’m excited about his new adventure.

He’s still fiercely independent but now he’s setting his sail with a stronger bond between us. I’m eternally grateful for the opportunity to reestablish our connection and to right that wrong.

I’ve treasured this time with him. Although this bundle of love arrived in a form different than I had in mind it ended up being exactly what I needed.

It’s been exactly what we both needed.

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Kasey Sparks writes with a curious and open heart about making mistakes, gathering lessons, and finding meaning in everything. She's been wrangling words since 2017.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.