By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Every day, more than four million Google searches are carried out.
People turn to Google to find everything from the closest pizza parlor to a recipe for chicken cordon bleu to news about the latest teen sensation, which at this instant happens to be the British boy band One Direction.
Earlier this week, the Google folks unveiled the top searches of 2012. In the U.S., the death of Whitney Houston topped the table, with Hurricane Sandy and the 2012 election not far behind.
But in 10 different countries, the most searched phrase in 2012 was the question, “What is love?”
So what is love, anyway? There are many different types of love, of course. We love chocolate or pizza, we love piña coladas and walks in the rain, we love our pets, we love our new car, we love curling up with a good book.
But that’s far from the type of love we feel for our spouses or significant others, for our kids and grandkids, for our parents and grandparents.
Love is perhaps the most-talked-about, most-written-about, most-sung-about topic in humankind, so we certainly should be able to define it without turning to Google.
We all know the words — love is all you need, love makes the world go ’round, love hurts, love stinks, love means never having to say you’re sorry, love is patient, love is kind.
We would do anything for love, we can’t give anything but love, we are lost without love, we have a whole lot of love, we have crazy love or endless love, we can’t buy love, we can’t hurry love, love moves in strange ways, love makes no promises, love will keep us alive, love is all that matters.
When we’re young and in love, we are consumed by joy and passion. We love like there’s no tomorrow and swear by all we deem holy that we will never, ever, take our love for granted.
But then life happens, and other things begin to get in the way, like work, family and other obligations. We still love, make no mistake about that, but in a quieter, less fervent way.
Years go by like that, decades slip away. And then one day, she gets a call something unusual showed up on her routine mammogram and she has to have another.
“It’s nothing,” you tell yourself.
Then the second mammogram comes back showing abnormal cells, and suddenly, she is facing a biopsy.
She is worried, she who sees the bright side of every situation. And you, who are always looking for the hidden pitfalls no matter how positive the occasion, are scared spitless.
So you talk about other things, try to laugh, attempt to go on as if there wasn’t a two-ton elephant in the room staring you right in the face. And you don’t use the “C” word, not out loud, but it dominates nearly your every waking thought.
The day approaches, and you begin bargaining with God. If one of us has to have cancer, you say, let it be me, not her, not dear, sweet her.
You try to be strong, you try to be hopeful, you try to be positive, to ease her anxiety, but you can’t. You try and imagine life should the unthinkable happen, but all you can see is a yawning abyss of depthless sorrow.
The day comes, and you are on your way to the clinic. A quick prayer in the parking lot and you are inside. She fills out the requisite paperwork, they call her name and you are left chatting with a loyal friend who is there to provide moral support and to keep you from curling up in the fetal position in the corner, sobbing and sucking your thumb.
After the longest hour of your life, out she comes, smiling, as always, but a bit unsteady on her feet. So you take her home, put her down for a nap, go back to work and try to think of something, anything else.
Then you wait, trying to be optimistic, talking to God, reiterating that deal you proposed earlier, but ultimately resorting to begging and pleading.
The night is long, the hours flying by like months as you both toss and turn, each lost in their own thoughts and wrestling with your own inner demons.
The next day dawns, and you hug her a little tighter than normal as you trundle off to work, and you plead with God all the way through the school zones and traffic lights.
Not even an hour into the work day your cellphone rings, and her name is on the caller ID. Your heart stops and the world goes cold and silent, is if you were instantaneously transported to the vacuum of space.
You hear the words “everything is normal,” before the tears begin to flow, from both of you. So you sit in your office, grinning from ear to ear, with tears streaming down your face, and you can’t decide whether to collapse in a blubbering heap or to run through the streets shrieking and laughing like a madman. So you settle for wiping your glasses and blowing your nose, as business goes on around you.
You know how lucky you are. You know not everyone’s tests come out so well, not everyone receives such wonderful news. And so you feel slightly guilty, but tremendously blessed at the same time.
And you know that no gift you will ever receive, this Christmas or for the rest of the Christmases to come, will ever mean as much.
That, my friends, is love.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.