That’s Not What I Mean


I recently remembered a scene that struck me, between the characters played by Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton, from the movie “Marvin’s Room.”  It is towards the end of the film, where Bessie, played by Diane, and who had lived what must have been a difficult life taking care of others, is shown dying of leukemia, with her estranged sister Lee finally recognizing what a beautiful soul Bessie had.

BESSIE: I’ve had such love in my life…. and I’ve had such… such love.

LEE: They love you very much.

BESSIE: That’s not what I mean. No. I mean that I love them. I have been so lucky to be able to love someone so much.

LEE: Yeah. You are.

This scene moved me because Bessie gave all of her heart to the ones she loved, even though they caused her sorrow.  Even though she was the only one giving in those relationships, she was still deeply grateful for being able to love them.  My heart went out to her.  If only everyone who loved that much were loved back as much.  But that did not seem necessary for Bessie.  She had such love because she loved; not because she was loved in return.

These are some of my thoughts on the matter:  It is not the beloved who makes the love great or deep or true.  It is the heart of the lover, which has the capacity to see the good in the beloved, and to keep on loving despite all the pain, that qualifies love as special.  Such kind of love is undeserved, really, but it’s real and it’s there.  The lover cannot help but love.  The beloved can either return the love or reject it.

I am getting older.  The movies I remember are from last decade.  These days I see myself as conservative, old-fashioned, old school, strict, and, admittedly, boring.  But what I do have that is exciting, is the kind of love that Bessie had for others.  So I am still lucky.

As God has loved me unconditionally, so do I love others.  That’s how it works.

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