Game, Love, Verb

I have just resurrected, staggered outside with the dog, reeled into the kitchen to make coffee, and bumbled down the hall to my office. As I was staring blearily at my desktop, wincing at the state of my inbox, the sense of being watched tingled down my back.

It was my son, in his pajamas, regarding me from the office door. “There’s been an announcement.”

I was immediately wide awake and ready for battle, as if he was ten years younger and looking a bit green before school. “Okay. What is it? Are you okay?”

“You might be able to play Guild Wars again,” he informed me. “It’s coming to Steam.”

For a moment I couldn’t process the words. I was ready for fire, flood, or intestinal disturbance, not this kind of update. “Oh,” I said blankly. “That’s good. Did you stay up all night to tell me?”

My (adult) child gave me a look that can only qualify as pitying. “No, I just got up.”

I thanked him kindly, and he shuffled down the hall for the loo. He’s an inveterate gamer, and has been ever since the first Christmas I could afford to get both kids a DS and Pokemon games. He liked WoW, but the subscription plus the behavior of the parent company meant we were looking for alternatives a while back and settled on Guild Wars 2. Then that company decided they weren’t providing support for Mac anymore, and he was verklempt…until he saved up and bought a hand-built gaming PC from one of his friends. We do still sometimes bond over the mechanics, though I haven’t played in years. But he still tells us at the dinner table about running dailies, raid training, the DLC content, and what’s been nerfed. And we listen, ask questions, and nod thoughtfully even if we sometimes don’t quite understand.

He wasn’t really saying, you can maybe play this video game again, Mum. What he was saying was, Hey, I love you, I think you’ll be pleased by this.

And I was thanking him, yes, but I was also saying that’s great, I love you too.

It’s like my daughter baking a hummingbird cake for her best friend, or my writing partner sending me an opera article, or the two-line text to a friend that makes sense to nobody else. There are a million different ways to say I love you, even when you’re on opposite sides of the country or even the globe. Even when your children are adults, taller than you, and have their own lives. It’s not the words that matter, because love is a verb. It’s a thousand little things, each one a gift of grace.

I had to learn what love truly looked like and how to accept it as an adult, because childhood did not teach me. I was raised to think love was a one-way street, simply caring about someone who hurt you over and over again. It’s the work of a lifetime to undo that early training. Some days I stumble more than others.

I know that even if Guild Wars hits Steam it probably still won’t have Mac support–I’d need Boot Camp, I guess–but that’s not important. Even in the fog of just regaining consciousness, my baby boy was so excited at the prospect of hanging out slaying pixel monsters with dear ol’ boring Mum he couldn’t wait to tell me. That’s what I cherish.

May you receive a likewise gift today, dear Reader. May we all find a ways to say I love you, and may we all find ways of saying I know, I love you too. It does not alter the darkness; nothing will. But it strengthens the candle, bit by bit. That is all we get.

And it is, by some miracle, enough.