So few people truly love me. Real love. Really real love, unconditional love that stretches beyond faults and bad habits, past disease and disappointments, through years of life’s ebb and flow. I can count them on my fingers and toes, and I consider myself lucky.
Kimani doesn’t have to take her shoes off to count those who love her steadfastly.
Ordinarily, falling in love is effortless. After a couple dates (or maybe after just a perfect smile) you realize your heart is hooked. Or, they place that baby on your chest and BAM – your heart explodes. Or maybe, as is often the case with our parents, you just wake up one day with the ability to put a label on what was always there. Ah, love… getting in is so easy.
It takes a while before you start to feel the annoyances, notice the failings, struggle with the reality of human nature. Depending on so many factors, many of which we don’t even understand, love will fade away, or endure. And you find yourself here and now, figuring out if you need to take your shoes off.
Kimani can’t make you love her. She can’t woo you, deceive you with her beauty, or flirt her way into your heart. She can’t entertain or enchant you. She can’t control her frustrations and faults long enough to let you experience the chemical reaction you need to have to fall in love with her.
It takes lots of exposure over a long time to get through what one might refer to as the purgatory, rather than the honeymoon, period. After a hundred times of being spit at, there is the treasured kiss. After a thousand frustrated screams, there is the sweetest calling of your name. After being pushed away, batted at, and kicked, there is the moment she climbs into your lap and nuzzles her face in your neck. And you know then that she loves you.
There is only one person outside our family that Kimani loves. I have watched their relationship develop over the past couple years, and it fascinates me. Kimani loves Eva, her personal care assistant who works with our family. She is a young college student finishing her degree in Special Ed, and she has a teenage brother with Down syndrome. Our whole family adores Eva (one of those people who likely has to take her shoes off when counting who loves her).
Kimani has put Eva through the wringer, and there were times I worried that Eva might look for an easier job, but she held on. I don’t really know why. I do know that over time they have come to love one another, and that has given me great hope that there might always be someone who is willing to trudge uphill through Kimani’s uncontrollable side to find the good, the dear, the lovable in her.