How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love thee with a passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

My 21-year-old son has returned home after a year of adventuring in New Orleans.  He did a stint with AmeriCorps.  Through his work, he learned the lives of children very different from his own.  And, he learned things his mother doesn’t need to know.

So he is home for a time.  Plans are afoot for an apartment where he can revel in friends and music without parental controls.  But for now, he is home.

Every morning as I pass his room, a head pops up.  It is the head of our lumpy and ancient black lab.  She is happily nestled in the bed of Jamie-saturated clothing carpeting the floor of his room.

She looks up at me as I pass as if to say: “He’s home.  He’s my boy.  Sleeping in his scent is of course what I would be doing.”

It makes my heart flip, this sight.  Through the comings and goings of my three children and Cooper’s three children, Zoe greets each returning child as though they are the best present ever.  Her devotion to them is a thing of beauty and power.

In her brown eyes is liquid love.

How does Zoe love us?  Let us count the ways.


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