I discovered the writer, Leo Tolstoy, in a muddy ditch that held more blood than rain. One of the soldiers loved his words—and then, so did I. “All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.” That was so many years ago. But words on a page didn’t teach me that lesson. I learned it on my own. I learned it in trenches with bullets flying overhead; pressed back to back with grizzled starving men who would have laid down their lives for mine. I learned it from a ribbon tied around my ring finger. I learned it from a kick inside my belly. I learned it from death, and hardship and brief acts of inexplicable kindness. I learned love from sacrifice. I learned love from living. And no matter where I’ve gone, or what I’ve done—all the dark things I do not regret, but will never speak off—that is the one part of me that I have always kept safe.
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