The language of love fascinates me and I have written about it before [Just Love, The Fur’s Flying in My Language of Love, Unconditional Love, A Much Loved Dog Has Many Names]. I think it’s because something that seems self-evident, universal, and easy, isn’t.
The person who loves hearing soft words won’t necessarily feel loved by the one who showers them with generous gifts or thoughtfully anticipates their needs.
To successfully love seems a study in self-awareness, recognizing how we express and perceive love and how those we love express and want to receive it. A complicated dance.
One that changes over time.
The other day as I bent down, focused on retrieving my flip flops from under the bench where they lay, upside down and half buried under other shoes, I failed to notice Pettigrew, lying inches away, until the soft thud, thud, thud of his tail on the rug jarred me from my reverie.
I paused. At that moment, it didn’t matter whether he had misunderstood and thought I was stooping to say hello and was greeting me back, or whether he, fully understanding my mind was miles away, was gently letting me know that he was close by and needing attention.
He didn’t leap up and rub against my legs, rest his head on my thigh, or lick my cheek as he might have in his younger days. Nevertheless, those languid waves of his tail and upturned eyes were a message. Continuing my downward trajectory, I sat on the floor next to him and rubbed his side. His tail subsided, eyes drifting closed. This, just this, was what he needed.
Pettigrew has rarely been one to come to the door to greet us when we return home [An Unnatural Dog?], yet his welcome has become even more subdued. Where he used to tilt his head and let his eyes roll to meet ours, now he barely moves, lids sleepily at half-mast, he watches. Even though the motion is smaller, it’s still there.
And, if I stay in one place for long, he will find me, curling up in the same room. Not necessarily touching. Not even within my line of sight. Needing only to share the space.
He notices. He’s watching. We matter, his actions say, but with an economy of energy.
Pettigrew’s language may have changed with the years, but I just need to watch, to look, and to keep my mind open to the changes in order to hear what he is saying to know our bond persists.