When you at 21 make a mistake as stupid as marrying a mean, petty, and jealous alcoholic ten years your senior, you spend a lot of time thinking about why.
Because if love could be my mother, holding me close, whispering, “that hurt me more than it hurt you,” into my tear-filled ear, then love could be him, holding me down, spewing the words, “I don’t want this any more than you do,” into my tear-filled ear.
Because if love could be my father, working twelve-hour shifts at the ER and spending his spare time pouring over electroencephalographs and demanding quiet, love could be him, coming home at 6 am, sweating beer from every pore, demanding quiet.
Because if love could be my parents, kicking my older sister out of the house at 17 for having sex with her boyfriend and smoking weed, love could be him, locking me out of our apartment to weather his storm in the cold.
Because if love could be the long-suffering Jesus, splayed out on the cross, drying out under the ancient Palestinian sun, love could be me, balled up under the covers for days, dissolving, trying not to exist.
Because if love could be Fr. Mark telling us, “no one wants to chew gum that’s been chewed already,” love could be him, following me, reading my texts, smelling me carefully to make sure I’ve stayed pure.
Because the only love I knew was painful and lonely; love was sacrifice. Because I thought I was bad and deserved nothing more. Because I had no one else. Because I didn’t understand feelings. Because I was a black-blooded robot; because I was a sour green nub.