"Surely it was a good way to die, in the place of someone else, someone I loved. Noble, even. That ought to count for something."
What is unconditional love? How do we recognize it? Wikipedia describes unconditional love as the following: Unconditional love is a term that means to love someone regardless of his actions or beliefs. It is a concept comparable to true love, a term which is more frequently used to describe love between lovers. By contrast, unconditional love is frequently used to describe love between family members, comrades in arms and between others in highly committed relationships. It has also been used in a religious context to describe God's love for humankind through the forgiveness of Christ. However, this can be seen as contradictory in some cases where God's "unconditional" love is predicated upon the believer's fulfillment of one or more criteria. But this love is not solely based on those met expectations.
Can we recognize it without confusing this love for the enabling of bad behavior? Ah, this is the tricky part. Too many times people, often women, confuse unconditional love with looking past the bad or inappropriate behavior of a spouse or significant other which results in physical or mental harm.
For my part today, it is interesting to note that Bella and Edward have such a relationship--sort of? Yes? Yes. No? It is kind of grey. Despite his claims, Edward is able to walk away from Bella in New Moon so that he doesn't continue to put her life in danger because of what he and his family are...vampires. And Bella?--she is able to love Edward despite the possibility that he may not have always honored human life. It doesn't matter to her. As far as she is concerned he has had 70 years to change his ways and go straight. Stay straight. His past for her is not what he was then but what he is now. She looks at him and sees a future--albeit a future like his. Edward? He sees a future with and for Bella too. However, in his foresight, Bella lives a human existence, grows old, dies and then he will have the Volturri kill him shortly thereafter. For a guy who can read minds, sometimes, he can be so unimaginative...LOL.
"He, for some unfathomable reason, wanted to be with me. Anything he gave me on top of that just threw us more out of balance."
I'm betting on Alice! If you have read the series, then you know what I mean. ..Anyhoo...It becomes a little grey and blurred when Bella becomes depressed as she pines for Edward. Her behavior is unhealthy and you may question [somewhere in the back of your mind] why she would choose to continue her affections for months, months, after he has left. Her need for him, at this point, is such a negative addiction that she endangers her life just to hear his voice "knowingly" scold her actions. And then the cogs in my brain clicked...hadn't I done this same thing at eighteen? Wasn't I in a messy break up that took me years to overcome? As I read the following quote my memories of that time came flooding back to me and helped me to remember why, as teenagers especially, we mourn the loss of love so deeply.
" When you loved the one who was killing you, it left you no options. How could you run, how could you fight, when doing so would hurt that beloved one? If your life was all you had to give your beloved, how could you not give it? If it was someone you truly loved?"
Bella Swan, Breaking Dawn, Book One Preface, p.1
It's true and I felt that strongly one in my life. Maybe time and experience has made me more rational as I aged. Who knows? I could feel that strongly again. Or will time make me so less passionate that I will logically go on with out this person in my life? I don't know--no one does. We only think we know until we are faced with those challenges and a new set of circumstances, ones we never imagined, are before us. It is then that we discover, as Bella did, what we are made of and to what lengths we will go to keep that love in our lives.
When Alice returns with bad news of Edward, Bella forgets herself, her problems, her anger and any hurt she felt in those months. She is completely selfless. Her focus becomes Edward's safety and his preservation, aiding in whatever way she can to save him--if she can save him. It is here that the character of Bella comes to an re-understanding, on some level what unconditional love means on its highest level: Dying for that person if that is what it takes. Giving of herself so freely that her own safety becomes irrelevant. Her conclusion doesn't surface until the danger passes. It is only then that she is able to put her actions and the consequences into a perspective she can understand.
"Option three: Edward loved me. The bond forged between us was not one that could be broken by absence, distance, or time. And no matter how much more special or beautiful or brilliant or perfect than me he might be, he was as irreversibly altered as I was. As I would always belong to him, so would he always be mine."
Bella Swan, New Moon, Chapter 24, p.527
How crazy is it that it takes danger, death defiance or near misses to help us understand what we would be losing? Think about it. How many people on their death beds say, "Gee, if I had only spent more time at my job, then I would have been fulfilled?"I am going to hazard a guess here and say, hmmm...none?! At the end of our lives that is not the kind of thing we want to remember. We remember love! The happiness it brought us. The sheer joy of being with someone, anyone--lovers, children, friends--who brought love into our lives.
"The way he stared at her! It was like a blind man seeing the sun for the first time. Like a collector finding an undiscovered Da Vinci, like a mother looking into the face of her newborn child."
Bella Swan, Eclipse, Chapter 11, p.242 [About Jared & Kim] Leave it to Baz Lurhman to burn into our memories the haunting song lyrics "...the greatest gift is to love...and to be loved in return..." Truer words were never spoken.
Let books and movies inspire you to find that "love of your life". Just keep in mind that you must stop dreaming and start living in order to find it.