Toad and Frog in love
Huda Shulaiba/MiC.

I love “Frog and Toad.” In its simplicity, a story about the friendship between a frog and a toad provides its viewers with a guide to loving. No frills, fireworks or grand gestures — just sitting on a rock next to your dear toady friend. Loving was taught to me by two amphibians clad in pinstripe pants and earth-toned blazers. I devoured those stories as a kid and, while I may be a writer, I find love is best expressed through a reader’s lens, with the words of others.

Love is Sacrifice

Sometimes, I hope I’ll love people so hard that I’ll disappear. When I love, I give and I find myself wishing I could give enough until there is nothing left of me. If I loved hard enough, I think, I would cease to exist. What’s left after dispersing all the best parts of myself to all the people who deserve them most? 

“i killed a plant once because i gave 

it too much water. lord, i worry 

that love is violence.” 

José Olivarez, “Getting Ready to Say I Love You to My Dad, It Rains,” “Citizen Illegal”

Love is Effort

I don’t think you must be good to be loved, but sometimes I do think I must be flawless to love. Everyone who deserves love deserves it in its highest form, at least from me. And so I give all the love that I can! Unfortunately, it seems I’m unable to receive it.

Other times I find myself begging others to leave me. I don’t need your energy. Don’t waste it on me! Choose yourself! I forget that to be loved by someone is to carry a piece of them with you and to choose yourself you must choose all those you love, including me.

“I am what I am and what I will be.

I will make myself by myself,

And I will choose my exile.”

Mahmoud Darwish, “Counterpoint

Love is SICK

When you’re sick, you think accepting love might be the most useless act in the world. What a waste of love to be bestowed upon someone who can’t even figure out how to survive properly! You also think that if there isn’t enough of me to keep me going, there is at least enough to give to everyone else. Make them whole.

This is, of course, a flawed line of thinking. Everyone dies. It’s unfair of me to restrict others just because I might pass early; who am I to limit the lengths of their own loving? But I am sick and with that comes the headache of realizing you are a headache. When people love you and you are sick you either tell them and bear the weight of their stifling pre-grief or you don’t and lie by omission.

“Now I have to

Remember you

For longer than I 

Have known you.”

C. C. Aurel

Love is Enduring

As a child, I’d sit on my windowsill and wave to the dollar store across the street, my small body tucked under the heavy curtains. The store was owned by a man named Jerome, but I knew him as Jerome-call-me-Jerry-actually-wait-that’s-Uncle-Jerry-to-you-kid. He’d gift me free Better Made chips and Faygo whenever I crossed over to say hi because “you only turn 6 and 43 days old once!” What a privilege it was to witness first-hand the kind of people overflowing with affection to give. I didn’t catch on to his subtle signals of love at the time. I was an angry child. Being angry makes you believe you are the antithesis of loving until you discover the existence of apathy. Like this, you determine love can be violence. I know now that one cannot lack love if one cares enough to rage.

“everything i’ve ever let go of has claw marks on it” 

David Foster Wallace

Love lives at home

Love lives in scarcity and in siblings — both of which are one and the same, if you think about it. You can always find a new friend or spouse. Siblings, on the other hand, don’t grow on trees. Only with them can you find enduring life-long relationships, the kind where you feel just as comfortable laying your head on their shoulder as they feel swatting it away in mock annoyance.

“A husband or child can be replaced, but who can grow me a new brother?” 

Anne Carson, “Antigonick

Love is Grief

Love is grief; mourning the overflows of affection with nowhere to go after the passing of their target. It’s an aching reminder of all that was had, savoring its transitory warmth. To be grieved is to have your existence proved; an affirmation of the tangible nature of love left behind.

“I hope this grief stays with me because it’s all the unexpressed love that I didn’t get to tell her.” 

Andrew Garfield

Love is Creation

Love is creation. We’re here, aren’t we?

Finally, a lesson learned not from a book but from my mother: Love is obligation — something in spite and not despite. To love is to rest in the belief that they will be there at every turn.

Columnist Huda Shulaiba can be reached at