Unconditional love - Must one hurt to love?

Its always a joy to have my niece over.

Just the other weekend, my sis and her family came over to my place to visit my parents and like most normal family weekends, the day was spent watching tv, catching up and watching the younger generation just have fun.

This weekend, something happened that made me feel a strange intense emotion that I haven’t really felt before, or at least to this degree. My niece being the playful little girl ran, slipped and knocked her chin against the coffee table. When that moment happened, she was directly facing me and a few moments before that, I remember telling her to watch out. She fell. I saw her immediate reaction after the fall. She just looked straight with the shocked face, and then almost immediately started to wail.

At that precise moment, I felt something. I felt some form of intense sadness. It hurt me. Its as though a sharp knife went through my heart. She immediately ran towards my sister whom hugged her tight comforting her. I saw the tears in my niece’s eyes and how my sister was hugging her dearly and telling her its okay. When we realized that she was bleeding, I felt a second stab to the heart. “What happened”, “Did she break her teeth?”, “Did she cut something inside”, “Is it serious?” and tons of questions probably ran through my mind at that very moment.

Quickly, we (the adults) all told each other calmly not to panic in front of her, so that she wouldn’t freak out even more. Of course, being the strong trooper she is, after a couple of minutes of wailing and comforting, she stopped and calmed down and everything was back to normal. In case you were wondering, she just bit the side of the tongue which led to the bleeding.

But just in that couple of minutes, it felt weird for me experiencing happiness, sadness and comfort all in a short period of time. It also made me think quite a bit. As her uncle, I’ve already felt such level of pain to her small injury, I cannot imagine how it must have felt for my sister and brother in law when that happened. While we may not show it emotionally, I know it hurt them just as much or even more.

Was that how my mom felt when I cut my pinky finger while playing with the clothes hook in the toilet when I was 6? Was this the feeling of parental love?

Its funny how sometimes it takes experience to truly understand the meaning. Or maybe its just the sign of growing wisdom, I don’t know. But I do know that as I grow older, I start to understand and realize why our parents and loved ones do what they did for us when we were younger. Every new experience seems to be a deja vu experience of its own.

If it hurts that much to love, I wonder how would it feel when/if I myself become a parent.